• John Charles Aitken

Army / Flying Corps
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  • Military Medal (MM)
  • Birth

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Stories and comments
    • Don't Think I Can Stand The Strain
    • Posted by ww1research, Saturday, 16 August 2014

    Letter from Staff Sergeant J. C. Aitken, 2nd Field Ambulance, to his brother Walter , South Street, Preston, Vic. “We have been kept been kept very busy lately running a hospital near the front line. We had a bad time down on the Somme and rumour has it we are going there again. I hope not, as I don’t think I can stand the strain. My nerves are all run down after the sights I have seen lately. I think it’s up to them to give us a rest. It is now two years since we started and out of that I have not missed a day, except for eight days leave in England which seemed to pass too quickly ... "... down on the Somme we took over a dressing station – an old chateau – it was battered around a bit. I kept 30 men there for dressing and feeding the wounded. Besides, we had our own wagons there too. Then we had our stretcher bearers of 110 men and bearers for other field ambulances bringing the total up to 600 men I had to look after ..." "... I had to work the battlefield from Castel Maison to the main dressing station, which was called “Casualty Corner” and also from Pozieres, one hundred bearers being on at each post for 24 hours and 12 off, the wagons working from Casualty Corner to Beacourt Chateau, and from there by motor ambulance to a place called Worboy where the patients were dressed again and sent on to a Casualty Clearing Station ..." Although his letter gives the impression that he was close to breaking point, "Charlie" Aitken, was later promoted to Lieutenant and was awarded the Military Medal in 1918. Born in Preston, he was living with his wife in North Richmond when he enlisted and was discharged in mid-1918 suffering from emphysema and bronchitis.

    • Lieutenant John Charles Aitken (Military Medal)
    • Posted by ww1research, Saturday, 16 August 2014

    He was born and raised in Preston, Vic., attending South Preston State School, and the local Leader newspaper published one or two of his letters to a brother, William living in Preston. He was 32 years of age, and was with his wife in Smith Street, North Richmond when he enlisted in August, 1914, his occupation given as tramway employee. Aitken had spent four and a half years in the infantry and another eight years with the Australian Medical Corps prior to enlisting and given the rank of Staff Sergeant, later promoted to Lieutenant. He was awarded the Military Medal in November, 1916 for conspicuous gallantry after bringing men from under fire at Gallipoli. Aitken was downgraded following a Medical Board hearing in June, 1918 which found he had a number of problems including bronchitis, emphysema and arthritis. He spent time in hospital in England before being repatriated back to Australia in August.