Indigenous Australian, Lance Corporal Arthur George ANDREWS, 15th Infantry Battalion.
Arthur Andrews was born in 1880 to James Andrews and Rachel Claydon an Aboriginal woman, near Milton, NSW. Assigned to 8th Reinforcements for the 15th Infantry Battalion, Andrews trained at Green Hills and Frasers Camp, Enoggera, Qld. before embarking for overseas.
While in camp in 1915 he was almost discharged when his commanding officer complained that he had been a “continual source of trouble” but managed to redeem himself to be included with his comrades of ‘A’ Company when they embarked for Egypt in August on board HMAT ‘Kyarra‘. By the time the Reinforcements reached Egypt, much of the disastrous operations on Gallipoli had concluded and battalions were brought to strength for service in France.
Andrews embarked with his comrades from Alexandria for France in June 1916 and landed in the port of Marseilles several days later. While travelling on a ‘horse’ train to northern France, Andrews was knocked from the carriage when he went to check on one of the animals, he was severely injured as the vehicle passed over his left leg. Andrews was transported to the 2nd Australian General Hospital, Moussot. The leg was badly crushed and he became dangerously ill, so after examination the leg was amputated.
Two months later he was transported to the Beaufort Military Hospital in London, where he spent several months recuperating and it was during this time that he met Esther May Beesley, from Dorking, Surrey. They were married in a civil ceremony at Uxbridge in March 1917.
Lance Corporal Andrews was repatriated home just two months later in May 1917 and spent a considerable time at the repatriation hospital 4th AGH, Randwick. An application was made for free passage for his wife Esther and two children, Alexander and Phyllis. Outward passenger lists show that Esther May Andrews together with Alec and Phyllis emigrated to Australia in February 1919 and took up residence first in Rockhampton, then in Mt Morgan.
In 1920 Arthur Andrews applied and was accepted for ‘Home Service’ at 4 AGH Randwick and he remained there for more than a year, until the number of patients diminished, and staff numbers were reduced. Arthur Andrews dropped out of sight after this time, and his death was reported in 1929 at his place of residence, Heath Street, Ryde, New South Wales.
After Arthur’s death, Esther married William Alfred Damke and remained in Mt Morgan until her death in 1959. Her son Alexander (Alec) attended Glenmore State School in Rockhampton between 1927-1930 and was managing Brinston’s Iceworks Mt Morgan when he enlisted in the RAAF in 1940. While serving as an Air-Gunner with 103 Squadron flight Sergeant Beesley was sadly killed in September 1942 when his aircraft was shot down by a Luftwaffe night fighter during a bombing mission on Bremen, Germany.
Arthur Andrews two brothers, Thomas Leslie and Walter Ernest Andrews, also served.
Read more …
- Adopt-a-Digger entry
- ‘Remnants from Randwick‘
- Service record: Alec Henry Beesley
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100 | State Library of Queensland