Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Into the Great Unknown...

"What a cruel thing is war: to separate and 
destroy families and friends, and mar the
 purest joys and happiness God has granted
 us in this world." ~ Robert E. Lee


The events which led up to the war now in progress, and the main features of the Campaign will be published in a much more complete form than I could possibly hope to arrange.

My desire is to carefully chronicle as far as possible all details affecting the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade which I have the honour to Command, and also particularly my own personal experiences from the time of the acceptance of my services by the Defence Authorities of Australia to the completion of the war, or as far as I am destined to participate in such war.

The "Graduation List" of officers published by the Military Board in connection with the 1st Expeditionary Force shows clearly the names of all Officers serving and their appointments.

There are in Australia at present in existence 26 Militia Batteries, from which 3 Brigade and 9 Battery Commanders are required for the A.I.F. artillery. The R.A.F.A. provided 1 Brigade and 2 Battery Commanders, thus leaving 2 Brigade and 6 Battery Commanders to be selected from 26 Militia Batteries.

Of these Batteries the 44th Howitzer (raised by me in 1908 and commanded by me till June 1915) has provided 1 Brigade and 2 Battery Commanders, leaving only 1 Brigade Commander and 4 Battery Commanders to be provided from the Remaining 25 Batteries. It is also significant that every officer who has graduated through the Howitzer Battery is serving in the 1st A.I.Force.

On July 1st I was appointed to the Command of the 5th A.F.A. Brigade New South Wales, and in consequence had to vacate the position of O.C. 44th (Howitzer) Battery. This Battery had been raised by me in 1908 and had always maintained a high standard of efficiency and Readiness.

Upon my vacating the Command my Captain (Major Rabett) was promoted to rank of Major and given Command of the Battery.

The Creation of the 5th Brigade had barely been completed when war was declared and the 44th Battery as a whole – officers and men – was the first Unit in the Australian Commonwealth to volunteer its services in the defence of the Empire.

When the British Authorities accepted Australia’s offer of a complete division, I was posted to the Command of the 2nd Battery in the Expeditionary Force, which was in fact really the 44th Battery, and at once commenced its organization.

The Artillery from Australia for the Expeditionary Force was made up of 1st 2nd and 3rd Brigade, Batteries numbered from 1 to 9, with their Ammunition Columns and also the Divisional Ammunition Column.

The 1st Brigade was Commanded by Major Christian R.A.F.A., and was raised in N. S. Wales, the 2nd Brigade, raised in Victoria, was Commanded by Lieut. Col Johnstone and the 3rd Brigade was Composite, and consisted of 7th Battery drawn from Queensland, 8th Battery from W. Australia. 9th Battery from Tasmania, and details of Ammunition Column from all states. This Brigade therefore has representatives in its ranks from every state of the Commonwealth, and is therefore essentially Australian.

On August 26th I was given command of the 3rd Brigade and set to work to get it organized as quickly as possible. Lt Jopp RAFA was appointed Adjutant and Lieut Clowes R.M.C. appointed Orderly Officer. I was promoted to rank of Lieut Colonel on September 17th 1914.

I visited Queensland in Company with Col Hobbs, Divisional Commander, and Major Anderson, Brigade Major, spending a couple of days in Brisbane. I then returned to Sydney where I remained some days, thence journeyed to Melbourne and Tasmania, putting in some days in Brighton Camp near Hobart with the 9th Battery. I then returned to Sydney, via Melbourne, stayed there some days attending to arrangements for men and horses embarking from Sydney for Tasmania. I also at this time inspected the Troop Ship "Rangatira" (A.22) lying at Pyrmont wharf and was delighted with the general Arrangements. The boat was fitted out by the Garden Island Authorities. I sent my Orderly & Horse to Brisbane by this Transport and some days afterwards myself left by rail for Brisbane. I found it terribly hard saying "Goodbye" to my wife and second son at Sydney railway station, and never again hope to have a similar experience.

I arrived at Brisbane on the evening of September 24th and immediately reported to the District Commandant who gave me certain instructions and information. On the morning of the 25th in Company with the District Commandant I went by Launch to Pinkenbar, and boarded the Transport which had been loaded with horses the night before and was ready to leave at noon.

I have shut down my practice and closed my doors. My connection must look after itself. Henceforward my records will be in Diary form.

~ Charles Rosenthal

Thursday September 24 1914

Took our horses down to Pinkenba today, also our harness, kit bags and blankets, our guns and ammunition.  Wagons where sent down to Pinkenba a few days ago.  About 60 men where kept behind to pull down tents and tidy the place up a bit and as luck would have it I was amongst the ones to stop behind and we worked like deamons so good we got finished by 2 p.m. and the Officer in Charge let us off till 9 p.m. so I went to Taringa and said goodbye to those there and then went back to camp and had to sleep in what we stood up in and not much of that.

Members of the 7th Battery parade down Queen Street in Brisbane
on their way to the embarkation point at Pinkenba Wharf, 24th of
September, 1914.

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