• Herbert Cornelius Bourne

Army / Flying Corps
  • 3rd Australian Field Ambulance
  • Private

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  • 1914–1915 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Birth

    Adelaide CBD, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Morphettville SA 5043, Australia

Stories and comments
    • Herbert Bourne
    • Posted by NAAadmin, Monday, 20 April 2015

    Herbert Bourne’s family always lived in the shadow of World War I. After Herbert’s death in 1976, his son Donald wrote to the Repatriation Department to ask: ‘Could you tell me the nature of my father’s sickness and invalidity after he returned from Gallipoli?’ Donald explained there were family stories that Herbert had been buried alive. Was this true? His father had lived over 50 years with a ‘dual personality problem’, Donald wrote, and it would be a comfort to the family to learn that this could be attributed to the war, and not some fundamental problem ‘in his nature’. The department replied briefly that it was unable to disclose the information requested. The family never received any answers, or the comfort of knowing if they could blame the war for their father’s extreme temper and unpredictable personality changes. Herbert Cornelius Bourne was 21 when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 19 August 1914, just weeks after the outbreak of war. He was from Adelaide, and although he had trained as a jeweller and watch maker, he was working as a clerk. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as a stretcher bearer with the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance. Bourne served in the same unit as John Simpson Kirkpatrick, who famously, used donkeys to transport leg-wounded men to the beach. Simpson died on 19 May, shot by a sniper. Stretcher-bearing was extremely dangerous and exhausting work, but Bourne endured almost the entire campaign until finally in December he was evacuated, having suffered for months from influenza and typhoid. Having no other frontline service, he was eventually discharged from the AIF, diagnosed with a heart condition, and returned to Australia in December 1917. Bourne’s Repatriation files record in extensive detail that he had poor health for the rest of his life. He told his doctors that he was ‘blown up’ on Gallipoli but this was not mentioned in his war records. Many veterans faced this dilemma. If an adequate record of a medical event was not kept and preserved at the time – and often it wasn’t – a veteran had little to back up his or her claims about their post-war health. They were also subject to the varying medical knowledge, experience, beliefs and values of the doctors who examined them. With financial support from the department, Bourne established himself as a jeweller and a watch maker, and lived for many years in Moonta, South Australia. For a decade after the war a small pension helped him through times when he was unable to work. This tended to happen in the summer, as he found the heat very difficult. By 1951 he had moved back to Adelaide and worked at General -Motors Holden as a fitter, but suffered shortness of breath, fatigue and palpitations. By this time his doctors were sceptical about his heart trouble. One doctor believed that Bourne’s symptoms were due to an ‘anxiety neurosis’ concerning his heart. He added: ‘In so far as this is the cause of his heart condition, there is a disability’. Grudgingly, the pension that had been withdrawn some years before was restored. In his final years Bourne was constantly troubled by heart problems, diabetes, varicose veins and ulcers which eventually became gangrenous, resulting in amputation of one leg in 1968. He was divorced in 1966 and cared for by friends in his final years. He died in a nursing home in 1976, aged 83.

    'Having lived over 50 years with a dual personality problem …'
    • Admiration
    • Posted by websitings, Tuesday, 28 April 2020

    The story was wonderful to read, thank you for submitting