The AIF Project

Arthur Wesley WHEEN

Regimental number4386
Date of birth9 February 1897
Place of birthSunny Bank, New South Wales
SchoolNowra, South Bathurst, and Gordon Public Schools; Sydney Boys' High School, New South Wales
AddressKilburn Road, Roseville, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18
Height5' 7.5"
Weight122 lbs
Next of kinFather, Harold Wheen, Kilburn Road, Roseville, New South Wales
Previous military serviceTrainee, Sydney University Scouts.
Enlistment date15 October 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll24 September 1915
Place of enlistmentHolsworthy, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Battalion, 13th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/18/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A60 Aeneas on 20 December 1915
Regimental number from Nominal RollCommissisoned
Rank from Nominal RollLieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll56th Battalion
FateReturned to Australia 5 January 1919

Military Medal

'At PETILLON on 10th/20th July, 1916, Private WHEEN, a signaller of the Battalion Headquarters showed conspicuous bravery in laying and repairing under fire the telephone line across "NO MAN'S LAND". Both N.C.O.s of this Section were casualties, and Private WHEEN attempted repeatedly to get telephone communication between Battalion Headquarters in the German trenches and Brigade Headquarters. He repeatedly crossed and recrossed "NO MAN'S LAND" under heavy fire endeavouring to establi'S LAND" in search of wounded and showed a very fine spirit in bringing in wounded under machine gun and rifle fire.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 184
Date: 14 December 1916

Bar to Military Medal

'At BEAULENCOURT on 17th March, 1917, during an attack by the 54th Battalion, Signaller WHEEN displayed great coolness and courage. He advanced with a leading patrol and established and maintained communication to the rear, so that full reports of operations were transmitted to Battalion Headquarters. On days previous to the advance, when the enemy shell fire had cut all lines to the Companies in the front line, Signaller WHEEN mended lines and constructed new lines under heavy enemy shell fire. Owing to the good work and devotion displayed by this man the operations before LE TRANSLOY - BAPAUME, 16th/17th March, 1917, were in a great measure helped, and communication was maintained throughout the Battalion.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 140
Date: 27 August 1917

2nd Bar to Military Medal

Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 1
Date: 2 January 1919

Discharge date31 July 1920
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Allotted to and proceeded to join 54th Bn, Tel el Kebir, 16 February 1916.

Detached to School of Instruction, Zeitoun, 1 April 1916; rejoined Bn from detachment, 23 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Awarded Military Medal, 12 August 1916.

Admitted to 15th Field Ambulance, 14 February 1917 (pyrexia, unknown origin), and transferred same day to 5th Divisional Rest Station; discharged to duty, 21 February 1917, and rejoined Bn, in the field.

Awarded Bar to Military Medal, 3 April 1917.

Wounded in action, 26 September 1917 (shell wound, right hand); admitted to 6th Australian Field Ambulance, 27 September 1917, and transferred same day to 17th Casualty Clearing Station; to Ambulance Train No 32, and admitted to 32nd Stationary Hospital, Wimereux; transferred to 3rd Rest Camp, 3 October 1917; to 5th Division Base Depot, Havre, 6 October 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, 31 October 1917.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 17 January 1918; promoted Corporal Signaller, 24 January 1918.

On leave to United Kingdom, 23 February 1918; rejoined unit from leave, 13 March 1918.

Promoted 2nd Lieutenant, 7 May 1918.

Detached to 4th Army Signalling School, 28 April 1918.

Awarded 2nd Bar to Military Medal.

Wounded in action, Peronne (second occasion), 6 September 1918 (gun shot wound, machine gun bullet from aeroplane, left shoulder), and admitted to 15th Australian Field Ambulance, and thence to 41st Casualty Clearing Station.

Promoted Lieutenant, 7 August 1918.

Transferred to Ambulance Train No 22, 15 September 1918, and admitted to 8th General Hospital, Rouen, 16 September 1918. Transferred to England, 18 September 1918, and admitted to 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, 19 September 1918 (seriously ill).

Transferred to 56th Bn, 11 October 1918.

Commenced return to Australia on board HT 'Kanowna', 5 January 1919; arrived Sydney, 14 March 1919; discharged (medically unfit), 31 July 1920.

Medals: Military Medal & 2 Bars, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Awarded the NSW Rhodes Scholarship for 1919, he read modern history at New College, Oxford. His health broke down, and he took a third class degree. In 1924 he was appointed assistant librarian at the Victoria and Albert Musem, London, and remained there for the rest of his working life, becoming keeper of the library in 1945.

A gifted linguist he was best known in literary circles for his English translation of the works of the German writer (and First World War veteran) Erich Maria Remarque, most notably 'All Quiet on the Western Front' (1929).
Date of death15 March 1971 Amersham, Buckinhamshire, England
Age at death74
SourcesNAA: B2455, WHEEN Arthur Wesley
Sally O'Neill, 'Wheen, Arthur Wesley (1897-1971)', 'Australian Dictionary of Biography', Vol. 12, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp 455-6

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