• My Great Uncle Harry

My great uncle Harry James Garlick enlisted on the 22nd August 1915 at Warwick Farm in Sydney, NSW with his great mate Oscar Graham. Oscar was deaf and Harry gave him the answers to the enlistment officer's questions. Oscar was later discharged in the Middle East when his deafness was discovered.Born in 1893, he was a 22 year old Roman Catholic stoker on the Sydney Ferries.His mother Helena (my great great grandmother) was listed as his next of kin.He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 14th Reinforcements as a Private.By our standards today he was a small man standing only 5 ft 7 inches tall and weighing 10 stone 5 pounds.Harry embarked on the SS Osterley on 15th January 1916 enroute to Cairo. He was admitted to the Auxiliary hospital in Cairo on 28th February with bronchitis and discharged a week later.He proceeded to the Australian Reserve Brigade at the garrison camp at Zeitoun. From there he joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria.On the 29th March his battalion embarked on the SS Transylvania from Alexandria to Marseilles arriving on the4th April.Two months later he was assigned to the 8th Entrench battalion in Etaples in France and rejoined the 2nd Battalion in early July.The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley in July 1916. At midnight on 23rd July, thousands of young Australians stormed and took Pozières. Forty-two days later they withdrew, having suffered 23,000 casualties for the gain of a few miles of barren, lunar landscape. Despite the withdrawal, the capture of Pozières was heralded as a stunning tactical victory.During the assault on Pozieres village Harry was shot in the neck and was among the lucky soldiers to be stretchered out to hospital in the rear. Many of his compatriots were not so lucky. The battle of Pozieres was described as the most horrific bombardment of WW1.After the battle 39 of 203 men of his battalion were still alive.He was patched up and returned to duty a month later in August.Soon afterwards he was allowed to go to England on a weeks furlough and reported back for duty in Belgium in early September.By November he had reported "sick" with a case of trench foot, a common malady amongst the solders living in the filth and mud of the trenches.The battalion spent much of 1917 fighting in increasingly horrendous conditions around Ypresin Flanders, before returning to the Somme for winter.By September 1917 Harry's war was over.He had been wounded in action again in the fighting around Ypres and was transferred to England on the ship "Princess Elizabeth".He had been shot in the rights and left arms and left leg and suffered the indignity of losing both his leg and his scrotum.He was discharged to the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital in Southall to recover.Harry was cared for by a young nurse called Nellie Ainsworth who sent several letters to the Army after the war enquiring about his whereabouts.Once he had recovered he was transferred to a unit for amputees where they were put to work learning how to be a telegraph operator.Harry travelled home to Sydney on the HMAT Kanowna in February 1918.Between November 1918 and May 1919 the rest of the men of the 2nd Battalion returned to Australia for demobilisation and discharge.Harry, like many of his fellow soldiers, was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.Harry had a wooden leg and was later to work as a ticket collector on the ferry turnstiles out of Circular Quay. My father tells me stories how he would finish work and go to one of the many pubs in the Rocks called The First and Last and get drunk, then pick fights with people by stamping his wooden leg onto their feet.He later married Ettie and lived in Sydney Road, Willoughby for the rest of his life.Because Harry couldn't have children he and his wife took a shine to a deaf and dumb kid who lived next door.Harry worked for the Sydney Ferries and died in the mid 1960's aged in his 70's.
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