ANZAC #1 – Private Andrew Boyd

Road to Pozières: In the distance the village ...

Pozieres (Image via Wikipedia)

I mentioned some time ago that I am going to try and research the twelve Australian Great War Soldiers buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth. Thanks to the Australian National Archive’s wonderfully open approach to service records, I can now begin to tell their stories.

46 Private Andrew Boyd

Andrew Boyd was born in Scone in New South Wales. He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 7 April 1915, taking his oath on 12 April 1915. He was 23, a Carpenter, and his parents were Andrew and Mary Boyd, of Hill Street in Scone. Boyd was 5ft 9 1/4 inches tall, weighed 153lbs, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and good eyesight, brown hair, and was a Presbyterian. He effectively joined the AIF on 26 May 1915, at Liverpool, NSW.

Boyd joined the 18th Battalion of the Australian Infantry, part of the 5th Infantry Brigade. He was a stretcher bearer, and also a member of the Battalion’s band. On 25 June 1915 he embarked from Sydney on the HMAT Ceramic. Most Australian recruits left Australia soon after joining up, and underwent training in the Middle East. From there the ANZAC Division fought at Gallipoli, a campaign for which the Anzacs will always be remembered.

on 28 November 1915 he was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance, and then on 4 December 1915 he was admitted to St Andrews Hospital in Malta, having been taken there by the Hospital Ship Glenart Castle. He was suffering with enteric fever, by no means a rare illness at Gallipoli. By 16 January 1916 he was in Alexandria, and on 22 January he was admitted to the Australian Hospital in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. He was not discharged as fit for duty until March of the same year. Medical reports suggest that it took some time to recover from even a mild attack of enteric fever, as Boyd’s case was described by doctors. At one stage a medical assesment recommended that he be sent back to Australia, but for whatever reason, this did not happen.

On 18 March 1916 he left Alexandria, sailing to Marseille to join the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. On 18 June Boyd was punished, for being in a restricted area without a pass, and being found in an estaminet (bar) without permission. He was awarded 168 hours of Field Punishment no.2 – being shackled.

On 2 August 1916 Boyd was wounded in action, during the Battle of the Somme. The Germans had just launched their final counter-attack on the Australians during the Battle of Pozieres. Boyd was admitted to 1/2nd Field Ambulance with a shell wound in his thigh, and was transferred behind the lines to 44th Casualty Clearing Station. 6 days later he was put on an Ambulance Train to 13th General Hospital in Boulogne. On 12 August Boyd was taken onboard the Hospital ship St Denis to England. The same day he was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital in Portsmouth, where his injuries were described as severe. By 22 August he was seriously ill, and sadly his condition did not improve. He died on 30 August, from the gunshot wound to his left thigh and contusion of the abdomen. Private Boyd was buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth.

His personal effects were sent on to his father –  cap comforter, brush, stamp, book letters, postcards, 2 small bags, 2 testaments, pipe, razor, identity disc, pendant, 2 note books, mirror (broken), wallet, shaving brush, belt, photos, one franc note, 2 stylo pens, 2 handkerchiefs, toothbrush, 2 souvenirs, pipe lighter, scissors, ring, 8 badges (various).

Intriguingly, Boyd’s files contain a letter from his only surviving sibling 50 years later. In 1967 David Boyd wrote to the Army Records Office requesting his brothers Gallipoli star. At the time David Boyd was living at 18 Edinburgh Road, in Marrickville, NSW.

If anyone can help with any aspect of Private Boyd’s story, or any of the other ANZACS buried in Portsmouth, I would be very pleased to hear from you.



Filed under Pompey ANZAC's, World War One

18 responses to “ANZAC #1 – Private Andrew Boyd

  1. John Erickson

    Why was he buried in Portsmouth, if he had family back in Australia? Wasn’t the standard to expatriate the remains of deceased soldiers? Sorry to sound kinda stupid, this was one facet of Commonwealth service I never studied.

    • James Daly

      Thats an interesting aspect of the story John. When soldiers first started being killed in 1914 the commonwealth didnt really have a policy on war graves. Wealthy next of kin paid for their sons bodies to be brought home, which obviously was not something that mr and mrs smith living in their terraced house could afford. So early on the British Government made the decision that all war dead should be buried close to where they fell, irrespective of rank or wealth. And given the status of Australia as a colony at the time, they followed our lead. This policy remained in the Second World War too. The other issue with Australian war dead is the huge distance, which in 1914-18 could only be travelled by sea. Taking thousands of bodies by sea on a voyage that could last weeks wasn’t really a sanitary option.

    • John Erickson

      Thanks for the info. I would’ve thought there would have been a drive to return “Australians to Australia”, especially once the war was over. Obviously with hasty battlefield burials that’s not an option, but for deaths like this gent’s, where the body (forgive me for sounding gruesome and grisly) was intact and where he died “within civilisation”, there would have been a greater likelihood of returning him home. (I also understand the cost problems, my thought being a government-to-government transaction.)
      Besides, the US has thousands of overseas graves, so I do know about the “leave them where they fell” sentiment among many families, and I certainly won’t fault any family for embracing that concept.
      Thanks again!

      • James Daly

        As far as I know there doesn’t seem to have been any great concern about brining fallen servicemen home. I guess British and Commonwealth societies were well used to men going away to war and not coming home again. Up until Waterloo and beyond dead soldiers were simply dumped in mass pits, and this carried on until the Victorian cult of death. Thats why memorials only began to spring up after 1918. Note that many war memorials have a sarcophagus or urn incorporated in them – for many families who could not afford to travel to war graves abroad, these were surrogate graves.

    • Harry Willey

      During WW1 and WW2 The remains of Australian Servicemen, KIA or died of other causes were not returned to Australia.
      Of the 700 men an women who have their names on Memorials and Honour rolls in the Scone, NSW. District 130 were Killed or died of disease.

      • Harry Willey

        Further to the above reply, The Australian Prime Minister in 1967 The Hon Harold Holt, gave a Gallipoli Medallion to all Service personal who served on Gallipoli. If Deceased their next of kIn were issued with the Medallion. irrespective of where they were residing, eg Medallions were sent to England, New Zealand, Poland, Russia and Norway with regards to the men who enlisted from Scone, NSW.

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