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Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Lemnos Heroes - Lakes Entrance's Private William Cleave Carstairs

Grave of Private William Cleave Carstairs, Portianos Military Cemetery. Photograph Jim Claven 2012

William Carstairs was a 22 year old labourer from Cunninghame, Lakes Entrance, Victoria, when he enlisted in the AIF on the 10th December 1914 at the recruitment centre at Bairnsdale in Gippsland.  He was enlisted into the 4th Reinforcements of the 8th Battalion. William would have stood out amongst his fellow recruits, standing as he did at over 6 feet tall.
The 8th Battalion was one of the first Battalions raised by the AIF during the First World War. Recruited from rural Victoria, along with other Victorian battalions (the 5th, 6th and 7th) it formed the 2nd Brigade. It was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Bolton and embarked for overseas October 1914.
After training in Egypt, the 8th Battalion took part in the landing at anzac on the 25th April as part of the second wave. Ten days later, the Battalion was transferred to Cape Helles to take part in the attack on Krithia, losing a third of its strength in the attack.
The Battalion returned to Anzac Cove to help defend the beachhead. William was one of the reinforcements to the 8th Battalion at Anzac on 26th May 1915.
The unhealthy conditions on the peninsula began to take their toll on William. On 4th June 1915 he was reported sick with "cough and pains" and was evacuated to Egypt aboard the Hospital Ship Clacton. He arrived at Alexandria and was transferred to the British Convalescent Camp at nearby Mustapha. He was diagnosed as suffering from influenza. 
British Convalescent Camp, Mustapha, Alexandria, Egypt. AWM image.
William returned to his unit at the Gallipoli peninsula on 27th June 1915. He then served for next few months, taking part in some of the major engagements of the Anzac campaign there. While William was with the 8th Battalion at Anzac it took part in the August Offensive at Lone Pine. They were positioned along Second Ridge at Courtney's Post, between Quinns and Steele's Posts. The were involved in providing covering support for the attacks on Johnston's Jolly and the German Officers Trench
Camp area on the steep hillside held by the 8th Battalion from June to July 1915, Steele's Post, Anzac Area. William would have served here. AWM image P01580.015
The poor conditions on the peninsula, which resulted in thousands of the Anzacs being brought down with dysentery due to the unsanitary conditions, now brought down young William.
On 16th September 1915 he was reported sick and transferred from the peninsula to the Australian hospitals at Lemnos. By the 24th September he was reported to be "dangerously ill". After suffering for three weeks, Williams succumbed on 18th October to the effects of dysentery while being cared for by the Austrlaian nurses at the 3rd Australian General Hospital.
Tent lines of the 3rd Australian General Hospital where William was treated, Turks Head Peninsula, Lemnos, 1915. AWM image J01438
He was buried in Plot 4, Row A, Grave 181, at Portianos Military Cemetery on 18th October 1915, with Chaplain J.A. Kuhnig officiating.
Two AIF Army chaplains on Lemnos. AWM image J01407
Through the correspondence contained in William's service records and the Red Cross file, the anguish of his parents - especially his mother Alice - back in Lakes Entrance, is revealed as they sought to find out more about their sons death and their desire to have his personal effects returned to them. This must have been the experience of many thousands of Australian families as they faced the reality of the future without the return of their loved ones.
The surviving members of William's unit would follow him to Lemnos in December 1915 as the peninsula was evacuated. It is touching to think that some of his comrades may have visited his grave at the nearby Portianos Military Cemetery. Portianou (as it is now called) lies on a few kilometers from the main Anzac Rest Camp at Sarpi.
A group of officers from William's 8th Battalion on Lemnos, December 1915. AWM image C01197
For Jan Davis.

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