Indigenous Australian, Virgil TEMPLETON, 26th Infantry Battalion.
Virgil Charles TEMPLETON, was one of four siblings admitted to Salvation Army children’s homes in 1901 after their mother Maria was declared unfit to care for them – Josephine age 2, Virgil age 4, Henry age 5, and Lomer/Loma age 6. The girls were committed to the ‘Industrial School’ and the boys to the ‘Reformatory’.
Virgil volunteered to serve with the first AIF in December 1915, just age 18 and named his sister Lomer as his next of kin, who was in the employ of Major A. Moon, in New Farm. Templeton trained at Vigden’s Paddock Camp, Enoggera for several months before finally being allotted to the 13th Reinforcements for the 26th Infantry Battalion, and embarking in April 1916 for overseas.
When they landed in Egypt the troops were taken to the training depot at Tel el Kebir, where Templeton was treated in hospital for several days. After being released Templeton was found to be AWOL – and after he was apprehended was fined and confined to barracks for 7 days.
The Battalion proceeded to England and France later that year, and Templeton joined them on the Western Front where they were conducting operations. After being hospitalized in England for anemia, Templeton again fell fowl of the authorities, he was found to be AWOL, drunk and disorderly, and missing from parade. He was punished for his crimes and returned to the front lines, where in June 1918 he was wounded in action.
The 26th Battalion was engaged in delivering rations and artillery supplies for the Brigade near Frechencourt, shell-fire at times was heavy on the roads leading to the lines, leaving both men and horses vulnerable to injury.
Templeton was severely wounded in his left hand by a high-explosive shell. He was invalided to England and admitted to Kitchener Military Hospital, Brighton for treatment.
Soon after he was again brought up in front of the military authorities charged with stealing and striking an officer, this time he was sentenced to 9 months detention. Templeton was admitted to the Lewes Detention Barracks, where he served 109 days before his sentence was remitted during which time the war in France had ended.
Shortly after being released Templeton attempted suicide and was he was admitted to the military hospital at Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. Finally Templeton was returned to Australia on the hospital ship “Medic” and he disembarked in Brisbane in May 1919.
The only image we have of Virgil Templeton is one taken to record his later criminal convictions, and where his left hand is described as deformed, whereas in fact it was wounded during his service on the Western Front.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: TEMPLETON, Virgil Charles
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 13th Reinf. 26th Infantry Battalion
- ‘South Brisbane Police Court’ The Brisbane Courier 13 April 1901 p. 6.
- 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