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2000/9/6 Letter from Captain Frederick E Boddington to his mother and father from hospital in Cairo, Egypt regarding wounds from Gallipoli, 11 Bn. A.I.F., World War I, paper, Australia, 8 August 1915. Click to enlarge.

Boddington family World War I archive

Made by Boddington, Frederick E in Australia, Oceania, 1915.

In 1914 the Australian government vowed to fight in defence of Britain ‘to the last man and the last shilling’. At first many of the men who volunteered saw it as a great adventure, an opportunity to travel and spend time overseas. The postcards sent back by the Boddington boys are typical, with their images of exotic scenes and foreign cities. However the tragedy of Gallipoli followed by the terrible trench warfare of France soon changed all this. Of the 300,000 Australians who fought overseas,...

Summary

Object No.

2000/9/6

Object Statement

Letter from Captain Frederick E Boddington to his mother and father from hospital in Cairo, Egypt regarding wounds from Gallipoli, 11 Bn. A.I.F., World War I, paper, Australia, 8 August 1915

Physical Description

Letter from Captain Frederick E Boddington to his mother and father from hospital in Cairo, Egypt regarding wounds from Gallipoli, 11 Bn. A.I.F., World War I, paper, Australia, 8 August 1915

Letter dated 8 August 1915 from FE Boddington to his mother and father written from Luna Park Pavilion Hospital in Cairo, Egypt. Relates with boyish bravado the risks he took prior to, and up to, sustaining a serious wound at Gallipoli:

Luna Park pavilion hospital
8-8-15

"Dear mother and father

"You will have heard long before this that the Turks have scored a bull with me at last. They had previously scored four or five grazes which however were not worth calling wounds being hardly deep enough to leave a scar. This one went in the tip of my nose and came out under my left ear and will probably leave one side of my face nearly as ugly as Jessie's."

It is very annoying to be here, tho, while the others are having fun over there, but have not much cause to grumble as very few of the landing party lasted as long or saw as much as I did. I am also lucky in being in the same hospital as C. and am having a good time with an occasional run into Cairo. C. has been to see me twice.

I have not given you any account of the campaign so far as our letters were censored before leaving the peninsula so will give you a short description of the stunt in which I was hit. It was what we call a "Please shoot me" or in other words a volunteer stunt and I have made a point of volunteering for any fun that happens in that line, tho I didn't feel too keen this night as I had had a premonition for a week that I was going to be killed the next one I went in.

The Turks had put up a trench about 30 yds in front of ours at a place were call "Tasmanian Post" and as they were throwing bombs all day 200 volunteers were called for to rush the trench. Our engineers drove tunnels and put mines under the Turks and the signal to get out of our trench and charge was the explosion of the fourth mine. About 11 p.m. 3 exploded quickly and thinking the fourth had missed we got out in any sort of order just as the above fact occured to us some waiting for the report a few seconds longer than the others. However it went off and as some of the more eager ones had reached the trench by then they got blown up also. The few remaining Turks in this part of the Trench were soon dug out with the bayonet and we scrambled in, some improving it while the others fired on the Turks who counter attacked strongly having a large number of men in a trench in places only 15 yds away so it was pretty close range fire. By this time the Turks had heavy artillery and machine gun fire playing on the ground between the trench we had taken and our main trench, to prevent us bringing up reinforcements. I was pumping lead into the Turks for about a 1/2 hour when our Captain gave me an electric torch and told me to signal the stretcher-bearers to come out for our wounded. As it was unlikely that anyone was on the lookout for Morse signals from us and I was sure to have my hand shattered flashing a torch with the Turks so close, I suggested running the gauntlet. He agreed and I raced over getting merely a scratch over the right eye in the journey. I got back O.K. and later made another trip to say that he wanted bombs and machine guns sent out. Having made 3 trips safely, I suppose I got careless of my direction going back until I was brought to my senses by cries of "Allah Allah" right under my nose. I looked up and nearly died of fright to see I had run within 5 yds of the wrong trench packed with Turks with fixed bayonets. It all occured much quicker than I can write it. I saw a chap just in front of me throw up his rifle to fire and not having time to fire myself just threw my rifle at him to put him off his aim. However his shot bowled me over like a skittle and I can tell you I lay very still to pretend I was killed but kept a good watch on them out of the corner of my eye. After a few minutes I saw another poor mug making the same mistake as myself and noticing that all the Turks had their attention taken up by him, gave a yell to warn him and broke all records for our own trench. I reported the position of the Turkish trench and went and had my wound dressed. Later I had the satisfaction of hearing that when they cleared out they left 6 dead so can write off my a/c for the wound as settled.

I had a bad two days in the Hospital ship with two operations under chloroform, but since them everything has been like a fine holiday and my wound is progressing so well that I hope to be back in the trenches before you get this.

Well, no more news, but hoping that all at home are well and J. no uglier than usual.

Love to all at home from F.

Marks

No additonal marks

Dimensions

Height

175 mm

Width

220 mm

Production

Notes

Written from Luna Park Pavillion Hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

History

Notes

Out of respect, and to humanise the otherwise depersonalised experience of distant death and burial, official efforts were made to recognise and honour the sacrifice of the soldiers and those they left behind. Medals, scrolls and commemorative plaques didn't return the Boddington sons, but they remain as important symbols of their courage, and premature deaths. They also survive as reminders of the social cost and loss Australia sustained back on the home front.

It is very unusual for such a complete group of objects to survive, since they were often split between successive generations of descendants. This archive is particularly special with its supporting documentation of family photographs, letters, and postcards. Before their deaths at Bullecourt, the Boddington brothers were at Gallipoli, landing at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915 as part of the Infantry Battalion, AIF - the famous 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade which was first ashore at ANZAC Cove. A letter from Frederick to his parents describes in vivid detail the occasion of his wounding when accidentally running at night into a Turkish trench.

Formation of the Division in which the Boddington brothers fought:
In January 1916, Major General A.J. Godley, then commanding the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, put forward a proposal to use Australian reinforcements, then training in Egypt, to form two new divisions. The Australian government concurred and the Fifth Division began forming in Egypt in February 1916. The new division included some existing units: the 8th Infantry Brigade. 8th Field Company, 8th Field Ambulance and 10th Army Service Corps Company but only the 8th Field Company had fought at Gallipoli. The 14th and 15th Infantry Brigades were formed by taking half the personnel of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades.

Initially, the division was stationed on the Suez Canal. In June 1916 it moved to France, taking over part of the 'nursery' sector near Armentieres. There it became involved in the disastrous attack at Fromelles in July. In October it joined the First, Second and Fourth Divisions on the Somme around Flers.

In March 1917, leading up to the First Battle of Bullecourt on April 11, a flying column of the Fifth Division pursued the Germans to the Hindenburg Line, capturing Bapaume. In May the Division relieved the First Division in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, holding the breach thus gained against furious counterattacks. In September it managed to turn an allied defeat into a major victory at the Battle of Polygon Wood.

In March 1918 the Fifth Division was rushed to the Somme region to help stem the German Offensive. There it guarded the vital Somme River bridges. In April it counterattacked at Villers Bretonneux, recovering the town.

The Fifth Division fought in the Battles of Hamel in July and Amiens in August. In September it forced the Somme River at Peronne and fought on to the Hindenburg Line.

Dateline for Bullecourt, 1917.
11 April. First Battle of Bullecourt begins on the Hindenberg Line on Western Front in which 3000 Australians are killed, including FE Boddington - on the first day, 11 April 1917.
3 May. Second Battle of Bullecourt begins in which there are 7000 Australian casualties, and during which time GK Boddington dies on 12 May of wounds sustained on 10 May.
12 May. Australian and British troops capture Bullecourt and repulse a German counterattack.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of the Boddington and Humphries families, 1999

Acquisition Date

11 January 2000

Cite this Object

Harvard

Boddington family World War I archive 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 July 2019, <https://ma.as/9629>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/9629 |title=Boddington family World War I archive |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 July 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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