Private Walter Frederick Bauer of Tiaro
A wartime wedding photograph which was recently located in the John Oxley Library collection is that of Private Walter Frederick Bauer and his bride, Charlotte Jacobsen, who were married on the 5th July 1916. The photograph was incorrectly described as being that of Walter Bauver with a general time frame of 1914 to 1918. However with some detective work Walter's correct surname, the name of his bride and the date of the wedding could be determined.
Walter Frederick Bauer was born in Maryborough, Queensland, in 1885. His father was Felix Bauer, a German born emigrant, and his mother was Mary Ann Tighe who was originally from Ireland. The couple had five daughters and five sons.
Tragically, the eldest child Cecilia, who was a nurse at the Maryborough Hospital, died on the 6th June 1905, while nursing a family who were suffering from pneumonic plague. She was 22 years old at the time of her death. Another nurse, Rose Wiles, died at the same time and a brass plaque was hung in the central building of the hospital in 1910 with the inscription: Erected in memory of nurses Rose A. Wiles and Cecilia E. Bauer who died while devotedly discharging duties in the service of the institution during June 1905". (Source: Maryborough Chronicle, 16 June 1910, p.6) In 1966 a fountain was erected in Lennox Street, Maryborough, to commemorate the sacrifice of the two nurses who courageously volunteered to nurse the plague victims.
Another tragedy struck the family in 1908 when the mother, Mary Ann (Annie) Bauer, died after a short illness. Another blow fell in 1910 when the children's father, Felix, was thrown from his horse while rounding up bullocks and died from a fracture of the skull.
Walter Bauer (service no. 7086) was a member of the Gympie Infantry Brigade before the war and enlisted on the 5th April 1916 in the 15th Battalion, 1-23 Reinforcements. He was 27 years old and was working as a grazier in the Tiaro district. On his enlistment paper he gave his next of kin as Miss Lottie Jacobsen who became his wife exactly three months later. Walter embarked for overseas service on the 25th November 1916 in Sydney on the HMAT Beltana A72 and trained at Codford Camp on the Salisbury Plain in England.
On the 4th June 1917 he was transferred to France where he joined the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion which during this period took part in the fighting in Belgium at Ypres and Polygon Wood. In 1918 the 15th battalion shifted to France where they fought significant actions around Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel and Amiens. Walter spent several periods in hospital suffering from various illnesses, including otorrhoea (discharge from the external ear). He was later wounded in action in France with gas poisoning on the 25th August 1918 and was transferred to England for treatment at the Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol.
After the war Walter returned to Australia in August 1919 on the troopship Argyllshire, and at long last was reunited with his wife, Lottie. The couple had been separated for over three years and due to Walter's war service had never lived together as man and wife. They settled in the Tiaro district and Walter worked as a timber getter at Blackmount, and later as a dairyman at Boompa. He and Lottie had five children; four girls and one boy, Desmond Walter, born in 1923. Walter died in Tiaro in November 1958 at the age of 73.
Walter's older brother, Arthur Bauer (service no. 815), also participated in the war. He enlisted in December 1914 and served with the 5th Light Horse Regiment at Gallipoli and in the Middle East. Arthur appears to have been a colourful character with a healthy disregard for authority. According to his service records he was continually in trouble for being absent without leave and also for drunkenness. He was disciplined for entering a sergeant's canteen and falsely representing himself as being an officer. In November 1918, while intoxicated, he suffered a serious injury to his neck which was thought to be a fracture to the base of his skull. Fortunately the condition rectified itself and he was able to return to Australia in June 1919.
From one small, misidentified, photograph the story of the Bauer family of Tiaro has unfolded to reveal another Queensland experience of World War I.
Lynn Meyers, QANZAC 100 Content Curator