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Edward William SOUTAR


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Sgt 2019 22y 8 Jan 1915 27 Feb 1919 4

Sergeant Edward William Soutar (1892 - 1966) 

Soutar Brothers Booklet

Edward William Soutar enlisted in January 1915 at the age of 22, and served in the 9th Infantry Battalion until he was wounded in the left ankle by a shell fragment in the Hazebrouck area in late April 1918.  Post-war he married and worked as a carter salesman for Tristram and Co. (a well-known Brisbane manufacturer of soft drinks and cordials), but eventually the effect of his injury meant he had to cease such work.  He died in 1966, aged 74.  

Family background

Edward was one of the five sons of Alexander Soutar and his second wife Catherine nee O’Sullivan.  Scottish-born Alexander was a joiner journeyman when in 1878 in the town of Montrose he married Jane Stormant, with whom he had one daughter - Elizabeth Jane. Jane died in 1880 and Alexander emigrated to Australia with his daughter Elizabeth.

After one year in New South Wales, Alexander moved to Queensland, and in Brisbane in 1885 he was married to Irish-born Catherine by the Rev. Charles McCulloch, with Presbyterian rites.  They had seven children together before Catherine passed away in 1902, and five of these offspring were living at the time of Alexander’s death in 1911.

Alexander was buried in Toowong Cemetery with the Rev. Dr Ernest Merrington from Saint Andrew’s (then Presbyterian, now Uniting) Church officiating.  Alexander’s children obviously thought very fondly of him - they regularly placed tributes to him in the newspapers over the following years.

Alexander’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth continued as a member of the Saint Andrew’s congregation, and was part of the family connection that saw Edward’s name – and that of his brother Charles who also served in the 1st AIF and is the subject of a separate entry -  included in the World War 1 Honour Boards in the Merrington Peace Chapel in the Church.

Enlistment

Edward was born in Toowoomba, Queensland on 30 June 1892, and when he enlisted on 8 January 1915 in Murwillumbah, NSW his occupation was recorded as labourer.

He was aged 22, stood 169.5cms tall, weighed 61kg, and had a fair complexion, brown eyes, and black hair.  One of his older brothers was given as next-of-kin, and Edward’s religion was stated as Presbyterian.

He was placed with reinforcements for the 9th Infantry Battalion, and embarked on the HMAT Kyarra A55 in Brisbane on 16 April 1915.

Gallipoli

Nine days after the reinforcements set off from Australia, the 9th Battalion was in the first wave ashore at Gallipoli in April 1915 and casualties were very high.  The reinforcements were rushed to Gallipoli to fill the gaps and Edward was one of those who went ashore there on 22 June 1915.

Gallipoli was a dangerous place – nowhere was safe from artillery shelling, quite apart from machine gun fire, snipers, bombs and raids even when the two sides were not engaged in a major attack on the other.  After horrendous casualties in a failed attempt by the Anzacs in August 1915 to breakout from the small area in which they had been confined since the landing, something of a stalemate existed, although the dangers for tired men in unhygienic conditions on a limited diet meant diseases such as dysentery added substantially to the casualty numbers.

Edward seems to have survived these dangers – although what made it into service files was often not comprehensive – and on 29 November 1915 he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant-Cook.  The Anzacs evacuated the Peninsula in the following month, ending that campaign, and re-grouped and re-organised in Egypt.

Further service

Edward remained with the 9th Battalion, and proceeded with the Battalion to France in March 1916, disembarking in Marseilles on 3 April 1916 and travelling by train to the north.

In June 1916 the 9th fought at Pozieres in the Somme Valley, and then Ypres in Flanders, before wintering back on the Somme.  In March the German Army staged a withdrawal to the strong defences of the Hindenburg Line and the Allies followed in pursuit.

Edward was posted to the 1st Anzac Corps School in France on 21 July 1917, and attended the 2nd and 4th Army Cookery Schools for short periods in September 1917 and February-March 1918.  By late March 1918 he was back with the 9th.

The month of April 1918 saw the 9th in the Hazebrouck area, and the German artillery targeted their billets in the village of Borre on several days.  There were significant casualties on 17 April in particular - including the death of one cook - and early one morning later in the month closer to Meteren, Edward was hit by a shell fragment in his left ankle, losing a chunk of flesh and the bones being exposed (but somewhat fortunately not shattering them).

In the 8th Stationary Hospital in France his ankle was operated on and placed on a splint, and in England Edward was admitted to the Central Military Hospital in Chatham.  On 27 May 1918 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxilliary Hospital in Dartford – and nine days later his brother Charles, who had been wounded on 24 April 1918, arrived there.  One imagines there was a happy re-union for the two brothers.  

After discharge from Dartford on 30 June 1918 Edward returned to Australia on the HMAT Kanowna A61, disembarking in Sydney on 3 September, and back in Queensland was formally discharged on 27 February 1919.

Post-war

On return to civilian life Edward was employed by Tristram and Company – a well-known Brisbane manufacturer of soft drinks and cordial – as a carter salesman.  He had a slight limp with his left leg being a little shorter than the other, and on discharge from the Army was not fitted with surgical boots.  His uneven gait and stance meant that the walking and lifting involved in delivering up to six tonnes of drinks a day to 40-50 shops was to take its toll on his spine over the years.

Edward married in Toowoomba on 8 November 1919 in St Luke’s (Church of England) to Amy Shears, third eldest daughter of Francis Shears, a baker and Mary (nee Hughes).  A report of the wedding noted that Edward had been a member of the ‘famous 9th Battalion’ and that his best man, George Walker, had also served in the 9th.

The couple took up residence in Gordon Street, Coorparoo and had one daughter (Daphne Anna) and four sons, two of whom predeceased Edward (one very young, the other Eddie at age 17 in 1939).  From at least 1925 Edward’s eldest sister Elizabeth Jane Soutar lived with the family, until her death in 1957.

Edward coped with the delivery work for Tristrams up until the early 1950s, when he needed increasing periods of leave, but the Company was sympathetic and gave him clerical work, and in 1955 supported his claim for a pension review, commenting that “We feel sure that Mr Soutar would not put in a claim to obtain a benefit to which he was not justly entitled’. Eventually Edward was granted a totally and permanently incapacitated pension by the Repatriation Commission.

He died on 15 December 1966 in Mount Olivet at Kangaroo Point, aged 74, and was buried in the Toowong Cemetery with Church of England rites.  Amy, daughter Daphne and sons William Keith and Ronald James survived him.


Select bibliography
• Australian electoral rolls.
• Australian War Memorial – embarkation rolls, unit war diaries.
• National Archives of Australia – service and repatriation records.
• Queensland births, marriages and deaths registers.
• Harvey, N. K., From Anzac to the Hindenburg Line: the history of the 9th Battalion, AIF (9th Battalion AIF Association, Brisbane, 1941).
• Wrench, C. M., Campaigning with the fighting 9th (in and out of the line with the 9Bn AIF) 1914-1919 (Boolarong, Brisbane, 1985).
Courier Mail (Brisbane) 17 December 1966.
Darling Downs Gazette 13 November 1919 p3.

Written by Ian Carnell AM, Buderim.  May 2017.

 

 

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