Good luck card
Lance Corporal John Alexander Walsh, took time out from serving in the trenches to send his aunt, Margaret Bacon in Paddington, this beautiful silk-embroidered post card. He was serving with the 2nd Australian Pioneer Battalion in Northern France. He wanted to let his family know that he was "still alive and kicking" as he had been seriously wounded on August 1916, with a gunshot wound to his arm and had spent many months recuperating in England.
He gives them a weather report, no doubt the conditions were miserable at the time. But he wishes everyone good luck, the best of health and "all sorts of good things". He also notes "next time you go to Dunwich call upon the carpenter's wife Mrs Kelly, & tell her, her son is keeping well & he is a mate of mine".
His mate, wasGeorge Frederick Kellyfrom Dunwich, Stradbroke Island, who enlisted on the same day as James. They served together in the 25th Infantry Battalion before they were both transferred to the 2nd Australian Pioneers.
He was well thought of by his Battalion, it is noted on his service record that his Company Commander congratulated him on his 'good and gallant conduct in the field' at Pozières in August 1916.
In October 1917 the Battalion was in the area of Zonnebeke, Ypres, filling in and bridging craters, carrying and laying duck-boards, clearing and reforming roads. The work was dangerous and couldn't be done at night, so the men were always in danger of being gassed, hit or sniped by enemy fire.
Lance Corporal James Walsh's luck was extinguished on 21st October 1917 whilst on duty. Mortally wounded, he was initially buried with others of his battalion as shown below.
This image from the collection at the Australian War Memorial is of the original grave of five soldiers of the 2nd Pioneer Battalion killed in action near Ypres, Belgium on 21 October 1917. 635 Pte Charles Collins Miller; 2423 Pte Harry Poole; 2030 Pte Charles Michael Hardy; 1793 Pte George Norman Slade; 3673 Lance Corporal James Alexander Walsh. Following the Armistice their remains were exhumed and re-interred in the Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ypres, Belgium.
To commemorate Lance Corporal James Walsh's service, his name is scheduled to be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra - the next date is Thursday 21 May, 2015 at 3:41 am.
George (also known as Frederick) Kelly returned to Australia in 1919 and married Beatrice Ballauf in 1924, he died in 1947 aged 50.
Many thanks to James Walsh's descendant for donating his postcard to the State Library of Queensland and allowing us to tell his and Fred (George) Kelly's stories.
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland