In the hands of the Turks

The Diary of Bart Creedon, Prisoner of War

When Private Creedon, 9th Infantry Battalion, took shelter in a dugout on June 1915, he had suffered a blow to the head and been wounded in both hands. He dozed while he waited for dusk, when he woke, to his horror he was looking down three Turkish rifles.

Maryborough Volunteers 1914Maryborough volunteers, for the European War   Top left F.W. Neal, centre D.B. Creedon

Creedon was taken prisoner during an advance on the Turkish positions at Sniper’s Ridge and the Knife Edge, where his group became separated from the rest of the battalion.

Tragically Bart Creedon did not survive the conditions of the camps in which he was interned, he died at Angora, Turkey in February 1917.

Fellow prisoner Private Jonas Palfrey Havard, a New Zealander, kept Creedon’s belongings and on his own release handed them, including his brief diary, to another POW, Sergeant John Halpin, 12th Light Horse Regiment, who promised to return them to Bart’s mother Kate Cowhey in Maryborough.

AWM DiaryCreedon’s diary was donated to the Australian War Memorial, several copies were made by his friend Lance Corporal Frederick William Neal, one was donated to the State Library of Queensland.

D.B. Creedon Diary

Curiously the brief diary was serialised and published in the Illawarra Mercury in 1920. Private Bart Creedon’s story can be read through the transcribed copy of his diary held in Brisbane, now available online.

Much more of Creedon’s story can be revealed however via the correspondence available on his Red Cross Wounded and Missing files, available at the Australian War Memorial.

Frederick William Neal

Lance Corporal Frederick Neal

Fred Neal wrote to London in 1917, hoping to recover some of his friends personal effects. Lance Corporal Neal had enlisted on the same day, with his mate Bart, and was also assigned to the 9th Infantry Battalion.

In 1919 the Red Cross contacted Private Jonas Havard, asking if he could supply them with information about Creedon’s care, illness and death.

In his response Havard, who spent quite some time in the company of Creedon, related how his belongings had come to be in the hands of Sergeant Halpin, the circumstances of his death, and place of burial. It would have meant so much to his family.

Red Cross FileRed Cross Wounded & Missing file

Havard had been captured in Gallipoli in August 1915, with wounds to his hands, he had also lost sight in one eye. Havard was repatriated to Egypt in 1918 as part of a prisoner exchange program, he was evacuated to England, where he remained until being returned to New Zealand in September 1919.

While we can observe ANZAC day here in Australia, and at many sites across the globe, we are unable to visit the memorial for Daniel Bartholemew Creedon, originally interred in the Armenian Cemetery in Angora. These graves were undistinguishable after the end of the war and a Special Kipling Memorial was erected in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.

Ballarat POW Memorial

Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial

Today the Baghdad War Cemetery is located in a very sensitive area, of a country still at war, and where our countrymen today continue to serve. For the Creedon family however, and those who wish to commemorate other prisoners of war, there is now a significant memorial in Ballarat, Victoria, where his name is carved in the granite  panels.

Bart Creedon’s name will be projected on the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory this month, on the 9th May 2016 and throughout the World War 1 commemorative period.

Further reading:

Other servicemen mentioned in the diary:

Marg Powell
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland