Locals enlisted at Gallipoli

A number of men from the Beecroft Cheltenham area served on Gallipoli.

Bruce Little, of Copeland Road Beecroft had enlisted in the 2nd Battalion in September 1914. He went ashore on 25th April 1915 carrying his pack, rifle and a small amount of firewood, with that unit on the first day after watching the first wave assault the beach. Also in his unit was Harry Noad, the brother of well-known local lady, Mary Seale. Noad was killed in action the day after the landing.  Another man from near the district to lose his life in the first few days with the 2nd Battalion was Captain George Concanon of Wahroonga, who was reported to have been warned about being killed as he advanced towards the enemy.

“That’s what I came here for,” he replied, and was killed the next minute.

The 2nd Battalion were involved in heavy fighting and Bruce Little suffered a gunshot wound in action above Anzac Cove within ten days of landing. He was transferred to hospital by ship. Little returned to Gallipoli after recovering from his wound, but was again evacuated after falling victim to severe stomach problems – not surprising in the appallingly unhygienic conditions where flies moved from the unburied waste and open latrines to the men’s food without a break. Over the next three years of the war he served in France and suffered from numerous illness as well as trench foot, shell shock and was eventually gassed in France just two months before the end of the war. While overseas and recovering from his wounds and various ailments in England, he married the daughter of a grocer in Richmond. Around the same time he was in trouble for going absent without leave – possibly the attraction of his bride was too strong to resist. He survived all of this to return to Australia in 1919 – no doubt a greatly changed man from the 19 year old who had left four years earlier.                               

Serving on Gallipoli at the same time was Bruce’s brother Robert. Their exploits were recorded in the local newspaper, the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate. Robert was also wounded in early June while serving with the 7th Light Horse. Not long after his injury his father, Henry, was one of those men in the suburb instrumental in forming a recruiting association to encourage local volunteers. Like his brother, Robert recovered from his mild wound and returned to the front on Gallipoli only to be invalided out as sick with dysentery – another victim of the appalling lack of hygiene on the peninsula. Robert’s unit was not at the landing but had come ashore in the second half of May. The unit was commanded by a man with some local connections – Colonel J Arnott, the brother of Herbert Arnott who built the landmark house Brunoy on Beecroft Road in 1916. The house is now a part of Beecroft Chesalon Nursing Home.

 Parramatta District Soldiers