Private Maurice Edwards died on 8th April 1918 serving with the 28th Battalion, Australian Infantry, Australian Imperial Force. Born in 1896, he was the younger of the two sons of parents, John (a coachman) and Alice (née Johnson) who had married in the Dudley area in 1892.
By 1901, John and Alice were living in Moseley with their two children, John Frederick (known as Fred) and Maurice. Sometime between 1901 and 1911, the family moved to Acocks Green where Fred and Maurice were both working as gardeners in a nursery. Maurice had apparently attended Olton Council School.
Around 1914, when Maurice was 18, he took an unassisted passage to Australia to work on the land. After the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 6th February 1916 at Cootamundra, New South Wales. He gave his occupation as farmer, and stated that he had previously volunteered for service but was rejected on the grounds of his chest measurement.
This time, there was no issue and he embarked with the Australian Infantry on 6th June 1916, arriving at Plymouth on 21st July 1916. Whilst at Larkhill, Wiltshire, he went absent without leave for three days in September 1916, forfeiting nine days’ pay. Later that month he embarked for Belgium, so it is possible that he went AWOL in order to visit his parents before going to the Front.
He joined frontline forces in the field on 24th September 1916 but was wounded on 10th November 1916, and sent back to England aboard the Hospital Ship Panama suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck and left thigh. On 20th November 1916 he was admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital, based at the University of Birmingham, but including Auxiliary Hospitals across the West Midlands. The Hermitage in Solihull and Berkswell Rectory were both attached to the 1st Southern General Hospital.
After treatment, Maurice was discharged to duty on 16th December 1916, granted furlough and told to report to Perham Down barracks, Wiltshire on 2nd January. Presumably, this means that he was able to spend Christmas 1916 with his family in Acocks Green.
In June 1917, whilst still in England he again went AWOL for two days, receiving two days’ detention and forfeiting four days’ pay. On 14th October 1917, he embarked for France, arriving at Le Havre the following day. He joined his unit in the field on 19th October 1917.
He was killed in action and is buried at Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension on the Somme. He is also commemorated locally on Olton war memorial.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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