Brightlingsea Brides

This year will be the centenary of the arrival of over 10,000 Anzacs who, between 1916 and 1919, were billeted in Brightlingsea, England and trained at the Australian Engineers Training Depot before being sent on active service to the Western Front and beyond.

9448 EVANS, William Weston  |  11th Field Company Engineers, Section 3, Military Medal

William Evans, from Toowoomba, was aged 30 when he married Agnes Hempstead, 28 in All Saints Church, Brightlingsea, in October 1917.

William had been wounded in action in France, earlier that year, with a gunshot wound to his right leg. He was evacuated to England for treatment at the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. Lance Corporal EVANS was awarded the Military Medal in August 1917.

After William recovered, he was sent to the training company at Longbridge Deverill, then on to Brightlingsea, where he remained before being returned home, invalided.

Agnes and William left London for Australia on the Osterley in January 1919. They settled in his home town of Toowoomba, on the Darling Downs, where William worked for many years as a postman, William died in 1939.

21827 MURTAGH, Patrick Francis  |  13th Field Company Engineers

Patrick Murtagh, an artesian well borer, enlisted in December 1917 age 33, he arrived in England in May 1918. Patrick was transferred to the Engineers Training Depot in Brightlingsea in June and there he met Mary Cross, who resided with her family Spring Road, Brightlingsea, they were married on 8 Sept 1918.

When the First World War ended in November, thousands of Australian servicemen were still deployed to Europe and many remained until the spring of 1919. Patrick Murtagh was returned to his unit in Abancourt in Northern France until they were no longer required.

In September 1919 Patrick and May Murtagh sailed for Australia on HMAT Berrima and disembarked in November 1919. Patrick was discharged from the Army in December 1919, and they settled in New South Wales. Sadly May died, aged 40 in May 1929. Patrick remarried, Emily Mitchell in 1941, he died in March 1955, aged 91.

9469 WALKER, Troughton Hodge  |  11th Field Company Engineers, Section 3

Troughton Walker, a carpenter, born in Yorkshire, enlisted in Brisbane, age 31 and served with the 11th Field Company Engineers. He was repatriated to Australia in 1918 with chronic bronchitis where he was medically discharged. Troughton returned to England in April 1919 to marry Edith Emily Field in May 1919, they settled in Brightlingsea where Edith’s family resided, and had one son, Malcom in 1923. Troughton died in February 1938, age 56.

69 WOOD, Carl Clarence  |  3rd Field Company Engineers

Just 20 years old, Carl Wood enlisted in August 1914 and served on Gallipoli before embarking with his unit to England. Wounded in the leg by a gun shot, he was considered medically unfit for service on the front line, but continued to serve with the 3rd Field Company Engineers, in England. He spent quite some time at the Training Depot at Brightlingsea, no doubt that is where he met his future wife Olive Kidby.

Wood requested he be discharged in London at the end of the war, so that he might complete further engineering training and stated his intention to marry. Granted permission to stay, he married Olive Eleanor Kidby in August 1920, and they lived in Essex until March 1923. They were granted passage on the Hobsons Bay and sailed together to Australia and settled in Ipswich, just outside Brisbane, where Wood was employed as an Engine Fitter with the Queensland Railways.

Further Reading:

Marg Powell


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Thank you, Marg, for helping to recognise the men of your state's commitment to The Great War. I'm very happy that we have made connections with Queenslanders and Brightlingsea in Essex. I shall drop into your blog from time to time.

Most interesting story and well done Brightlingsea Museum. Excuse me for a grammar correction. ANZAC was a acronym for a formation that existed in 1915. It quickly became a word which is spelt Anzac.