Garnet Emerson Archer

June 16, 2015

ARCHER, Garnet ‘George’ Emerson– – – – – SPC 1909-1910

DoB:– – 1896, Korumburra, Gippsland

Father:– – Frederick William Archer, Bena Hotel

Mother:- Ellen, nee Noone

George was a boarder at St Patrick’s College from Bena, a small town in South-East Gippsland.

Service No:– 4428

Rank:– – Private

Unit:– – 54th Battalion

Private Archer enlisted on 31 August 1915. He was 21years old, had a fair complexion with blue eyes and brown hair, and was five feet, six and a half inches tall. He also had two tattoos -“ on his left forearm a lady’s head, on his right, crossed flags.

George Archer embarked at Sydney on 16 February 1916 on the HMAT Ballarat, and initially joined the Signal Corp. He later was transferred to the 54th Battalion and went to the trenches in France, via Egypt for further training.

After disembarking at Marseilles, he was wounded in action on 19 July 1916 at Fleirbaix, France suffering from shell shock. He was initially reported missing in action. After some time recuperating at a military hospital in Boulogne, he marched out to rejoin his unit on 14 September.

On 25 September 1916, a Field General Court Martial charged Private Archer with desertion while on active service on His Majesty’s Service. The finding was, -‘Guilty of absenting himself without leave’. He was sentenced to 90 days FP (Field Punishment). The findings were confirmed by Brigadier General C H Hobkirk, DSO.

By early December, Private Archer was back in the field, and was again wounded in action on 13 December 1916. He sustained a gunshot wound to his thigh, leg and back. He was transferred to the Carisbrook Castle hospital ship at Havre and sent to England where he was admitted to hospital, his wounds considered -‘severe’.

After several months in hospital he marched out on 23 February 1917 to No 2 Australian Communal Depot at Weymouth. For the next seven months he was at Brigade Signal School. However, he proceeded overseas to France on 12 September 1917 to help reinforce his unit.

A few weeks later, Private Archer was again placed under military arrest and was Court Martialled in January 1918. There were two charges brought against him: Charge 1 -“ when on active service, disturbing His Majesty’s Service; Charge 2 -“ conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline in that he, in the field, on 28th November 1917 was in unauthorised possession of a bicycle, the property of the British Military Authorities.

The finding for Charge 1 was -‘Not Guilty’ of desertion but -‘Guilty’ of absence. The finding for Charge 2 was -‘Guilty’. The sentence imposed was one year without hard labour. These proceedings were confirmed by Major General Sir J T Hobbs, in command of the 5th Australian Division.

From France, Private Archer was escorted back to England where he was prepared for return to Australia. The report of the Corporal to whom Private Archer reported in France, stated that -‘he has been a continual nuisance to his battalion and absolutely useless in the line’.

So George Archer returned to Australia on the Essex in June 1918, suffering from neurasthenia (shortness of breath on exertion) which was aggravated by his service in the field, and having been wounded twice. He was deemed by the medical board in England to retain only a quarter of his physical fitness and ability to continue employment on return to civilian life. In October 1918, he was granted a pension of 45/- per fortnight.

The College was not able to trace Garnet George Emerson Archer after his return to Australia.