THE THREE ANZAC BROTHERS
Lynden Thomas Gale
The young men, several of whom were still in their teens, embarked for active service on the HMAT Berrima in Hobart on 1 July 1916. They disembarked at Devonport, England on 22 August 1916, and after three months training at Larkhill, proceeded to France on 23 November 1916.
Shortly after landing in France, the battalion was posted to Armentières, a small town situated on the Belgian border, northwest of the city of Lille. Before the war, Armentières had been a large industrial town with a population of 36,000. In December 1916, the town was deserted with many public buildings destroyed and the population reduced to 6,000 civilians. Several factories were still in operation and there were a few small shops open making a roaring trade, dealing mostly in souvenirs, eggs and chips and beer.
The battalion set up camp and in the first week carried ammunition and gas cylinders to the trenches.
Then on 9 December 1916, the battalion relieved the 38th Battalion in the trenches to the south of the river Lys. This was the battalion’s first exposure to the front line. They remained in position until 16 December 1916 whereafter they were relieved and became a support unit as had been when they first arrived.
Soldiers would generally be cycled through the three lines of trenches, moving from billets into the front line, then through the support and reserve trenches, before getting a welcome break in billets. 
Then on 20 December 1916, the battalion took over the same trenches as before, spending Christmas there until 28 December 1916.
Flooded trenches and bleak icy condition made the going very difficult. Trench rats were rife and there was no escape from the mud—mud in the dugouts where they slept, mud on equipment, not to mention standing knee deep in mud for hours on end. Frank Clifton Green of the 40th Battalion described the conditions:
“Trench rats were always persistent in getting at the rations. The wet trenches had driven them from below ground, and they foraged among the trenches and dugouts in great numbers. A few cats lived about the ruined buildings and trenches, but the job was too big for them, and a strict neutrality seemed to be observed between them and the rats. A biscuit left in a haversack meant a ruined haversack, as the rats gnawed through it, or if a man went to sleep with food in his pockets, he would wake to find his pocket eaten through.” 
Immediately after relieving the 38th Battalion on 3 January 1917, the 40th Battalion received its first baptism of fire when it was subjected to heavy bombardment followed by a German raid immediately thereafter. Casualties were 23 wounded and eight killed, among whom was one of the Elliott boys, John McLeod Davies, who was just 19. John McLeod Davies' military portrait can be seen above (Australian War Memorial P11169.001).
Trench raiding by troops on both sides of no man’s land continued in the ensuing days, weeks and months. In one incident, on 31 January 1917, after heavy bombardment, the enemy made yet another attempt to raid the trenches.
The enemy dressed in white camouflaged against the snowy background crept up to the parapet without being seen. They were spotted and eventually driven off and the attempted raid failed. However, in the commotion, Lynden was injured after receiving a gunshot wound through the thigh. He was one of over 60 casualties on this particular day.
On 6 February 1917, Lynden was repatriated to England onboard the Princess Elizabeth and sent to the Edmonton Military Hospital, just north of London. It was a BEF hospital specialising in orthopaedic cases.
The extent of damage to Lynden’s leg was severe. Medical records state that a foreign body had entered over the femoral triangle, fractured the femur and emerged posterior to the greater trochanter, near the hip.
On 1 May 1917, Lynden underwent sequestrectomy. Then on 17 July 1917 he was transferred to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield before being discharged to No. 2 Convalescent Depot at Weymouth in August 1917. While at Weymouth, Lynden was reported absent without leave and had to forfeit three days’ pay.
Lynden left England for Australia per hospital ship, Beltana, on 18 October 1917, disembarking at Melbourne on 10 December 1917. He then sailed with 33 wounded soldiers, arriving at Launceston on 13 December 1917 per the Rotomahana. Many including the Red Cross Society welcomed the soldiers. A reception band played patriotic songs as the men stepped onto the wharf. Afterwards the men were conveyed to a military base hospital. Majority of the injured had gunshot wounds, however, there was one who suffered severe burns from liquid shellfire.
No sooner had he returned to Elliott than Lynden was at his former school giving out prizes and certificates.  He was on hand to greet the children at the conclusion of the school year on 24 December 1917, just before the children began their school holidays.
By this time, Lynden would’ve learnt of his cousins’ death, Alfred Claude Matthew Fleming who died on 17 November 1917 from gas poisoning and bronchial pneumonia, and his brother, John William Fleming, who was killed at Passchendaele on 2 May 1917. 
In the following year, Ernest James Armstrong was also killed followed by Lynden’s brother who died from his wounds in August 1918. 
It was not so long ago when on that fateful summer day in February 1916, seven men in the prime of their youth boarded a train at Elliott to make their way to the Claremont training camp. Five of them were to never return.
Rupert Franks was fortunately one of the returned servicemen. However, he had also lost a brother who was killed at Pozières. 
After his return, Rupert attended a welcome function held at the Central Hall at Wynyard, which was organized by the local Patriotic Committee. The hall was decorated with a welcome home sign surrounded by evergreens and flags of Australia, Great Britain, the United States as well as flags of other allied countries. Just below the welcome home sign, an Australian wattle occupied a prominent position.
Rupert was among 20 returned servicemen who were given a welcome. At the conclusion of the speeches, the attendants sang the national anthem and God Bless our Splendid Men: 
God bless our splendid men
Send them safe home again
God bless our men
Keep them victorious
Patient and chivalrous
They are so dear to us
God bless our men
Another son of Elliott killed in action was Frank Tasman Poke. He was with the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column when he lost his life on 15 August 1918 (refer to blog dated 13 August 2017).
Three years after the war, on 17 November 1921, the Bishop of Tasmania, Dr Hay, gave an address at the St Barnabas Church at Somerset. In the evening the Bishop proceeded to Elliott where he dedicated various memorial gifts, namely a silver chalice set with amethyst and a silver paten, the gift of Harry Franks and Annie Gale in memory of their son, Ernest John Franks; silver and cut glass credence vessels, the gift of Mrs Hyland in memory of Colin Glasgow; and a blackwood sanctuary chair, the gift of Captain F Marriott, in memory of old boys of the Sunday School who fell in the Great War.
Such was the momentous sacrifice of a small town as Elliott with a population of just 200. In fact, there was not a community or town in the Tasmanian Northwest untouched by similar losses, of sons, fathers and brothers who would never return.
Lynden went on to lead an active life. In 1921, Lynden returned to the Launceston Military Base Hospital to have further surgery. He was in hospital eight weeks and when he returned his health appeared to have improved markedly.
In the 1920s Lynden began to play cricket again and was captain of a tennis team when it won a premiership in 1929. In the early 1930s, he took up golf and became a member of the Seabrook Club.
Lynden married in 1936 and passed away on 4 September 1980 aged 84.
 Australian War Stories: Charles Alexander Timms by Timothy Campbell published 2014
 The Fortieth: A Record of the 40th Battalion AIF by Frank Clifton Green with a foreword by Sir John Monash, published 1922
 Lyndon Thomas Gale, nicknamed Cap, was the son of George Gale and Catherine Grace Fleming, born at Somerset on 19 December 1895. Lynden’s primary education was at the Elliott State School, and after completing his schooling, he went to work on his father’s farm as a farmhand.
 Both brothers had been transferred to the 51st Battalion after their arrival in England
 Ernest James Armstrong was transferred to the 49th Battalion after arrival in England
 Ernest John Franks killed in action between 19 and 22 August 1916
 Around mid 1915, God Bless Our Splendid Men was published in The Age. Some State school teachers, recognising the appropriateness, taught them to their pupils, and had them sung as an addition to the National Anthem, God Save the King. The Minister of Public Instruction at the time, approving the practice, decided to give it official sanction and to make it general throughout the schools. Other Education departments of the Commonwealth followed Victoria’s lead, and many church authorities had the verse printed and inserted in their hymn books. This led onto a wider practice of singing the verse at public gathering.
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