The AIF Project

John DAVERN

Regimental number2474
Place of birthKilfenora, Co Clare, Ireland
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationLabourer
AddressCarnamah, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation27
Height5' 8.75"
Weight160 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs M Davern, Kilfenora, Co Clare, Ireland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date2 June 1915
Place of enlistmentBlackboy Hill, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name16th Battalion, 7th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/33/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A51 Chilka on 18 June 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll16th Battalion
FateReturned to Australia 17 June 1918
Discharge date4 September 1918
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli

Embarked Fremantle, 18 June 1915.

Taken on strength of 16th Bn, Gallipoli, 2 August 1915.

Captured by Turkish forces whilst engaged in combat near Hill 97, 8 August 1915; interned at Afion Karahissar, 15 October 1916; repatriated from Switzerland to 3rd Stationary Hospital, France, 16 February 1918 (gun shot wound, fractured femur). Proceeded to England on HMD 'St. Patrick' for further treatment, 17 February 1918; admitted to King George Hospital, London, 18 February 1918; transferred to 1st Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, 27 February 1918. Marched into No 2 Command Depot, Weymouth, from furlough, 21 March 1918.

Commenced return to Australia on HT 'Matatua', 17 June 1918; disembarked Fremantle, 8 August 1918. Discharged due to wounding, Perth, 4 September 1918.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.

Statement by 2474 J. Davern upon repatriation to United Kingdom reads in part: 'I was made prisoner of war by the Turks during an operation near the village of Anafarta, Gallipoli, on August 8, 1915. It was the same operation in which my friend Paddy O'Connor was captured. He and I spent some considerable time together as prisoners of war in the hands of the Turks. I understand that our main objective was the capture of the Turkish village of Anafarta. The Ghurkas were on our right and I fancy an English unit on our left. For about a fortnight before, my Bn had been in Rest Gully. Our Bn Headquarters was on Anzac Beach but I did no[t see] guards there. It was on August 6, that we began to move up, along the beach and over level ground covered with prickly bushes. It was early in the morning that we first came into touch with the Turks. We were close up against Hill 971 when the Turks first began to make their presence generally known to me. We could see Turks in the trenches on the hill But the Turkish snipers had been very busy for an hour before. We could not see te snipers, but they had managed to bowl over a number of our fellows. At about 6 o'clock in the morning, we charged up the hill. Besides my own Bn in this "stunt" there was the 14th, Australians, the Gurkhas and I can't say what other units. As we charged, the Turks bolted for it and we captured quite a number of them. They handed themselves over to us. I myself saw 10 or 12 so taken, but there were many more. We advanced well over a mile and then proceeded to "dig in." Besides our entrenching tools we had also picks and shovels. We were armed with rifles and bayonets but had no bombs. As we were digging in, the Turks shelled us continuously and wickedly. At the same time, the enemy snipers marked off a number of our chaps. Altogether we found ourselves in a very hot corner. One of their snipers we shifted with a bomb. He had been having a gay old time. But eventually he was spotted. The bomb made an unholy mess of him and we had quietness from that particular direction afterwards. But there were others - many others. We put in the whole of that day digging [trenches] and the necessary communication gaps. We first of all filled a sandbag somehow or another. Then we lay down behind this filled sand-bag and scratched out a protecting shelter hole as well as we could - and as quickly as we could. We spent that night in the newly-dug trench and started out at about day-light to attack Hill 971. But we had not advanced a very great distance before we had to retire. The rifle, machine gun and shell fire was fearful. Our fellows were dropping down on all sides and could not make headway against it. Lieutenant Jeffery was the last man I remember seeing. I had had my left thigh badly fractured by a bullet and Lieut. Jeffery said to me, "I'll send down a stretcher to you as soon as I possible can." He went away, but none of our stretcher bearers ever turned up. I lay in a bit of a dip or gully till very late in the evening. After I had lain in that gully for abou a couple of hours, about 50 or 60 Turks came along. A couple of them advanced upon me with fixed bayonets. They were jumping about and wildly excited. I felt quite satisfied they meant to "get into" me. But a German officer who appeared from somewhere, "got into" them instead. He sailed into those Turks with his fists, did that German officer, and the Turks left me alone. Furthermore this German officer gave me a pannikin of rum and put an armed Turk to guard me till he could have a stretcher sent along. Two Turks eventually appeared with a stretcher. They first of all stripped me naked, taking everything except my pay book. This they did not see for I had placed it under my knee and they missed it. The Turks stripped all our chaps - wounded and dead. When they had stripped me they rolled me on to the stretcher and they were not to easy about it either. I was carried to a dressing station - a bush shed in an area that appeared to be allotted to Turkish officers. There were a lot or Turkish officers here and some German officers also. The German officers appeared to be "the heads." I was at that dressing station for about an hour. They put bandages on my wound but did not bother to clean or dress it. Placed in roughly built bullock carts, a Victorian chap named Hudson and myself were carried down to the waterside. Hudson belonged to the 15th Bn and had been shot through the thigh., like me. He died afterwards at the Turkish hospital at Tash Kisschler. A small launch carried us out to a fair sized steamer that was flying the Turkish hospital flag - a Red Crescent. While we were waiting to be taken aboard by the launch, Turkish convalescent soldiers who were on the beach spat at us and kicked us. There were a number of Australian wounded prisoners there, but the only man I knew was Hudson. There were Turkish officers at hand but they didn't appear to be able to keep the Turkish soldiers quiet, even though some of them used a whip on the more unruly Turks. The Turkish officers would go across to the boat and as soon as they had gone the Turkish soldiers started their bullying again. There were no German officers about at the time.'
SourcesNAA: B2455, DAVERN John

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