Andrew Phillips tells the story of his great-grandmother’s brother, Aloysius Banks.
He enlisted in Melbourne on 13 April 1915, aged 18 years, joining the 24 Battalion in the AIF (service No. 1333). He left Melbourne on 8 May 1915 aboard the HMAT Euripides.
The battalion spent July and August training in Egypt, then proceeded to Gallipoli. Private Banks landed at Gallipoli on 30 August 1915, where his battalion fought at the battle of Lone Pine.
He contracted severe dysentery while in the trenches, and on 30 September 1915 was transferred on the Maheno to a hospital in Malta. He re-joined his unit on 28 December 1915 at Alexandra, Egypt.
The battalion proceeded to France, disembarking at Marseilles on 26 March 1916, and Aloysius was appointed Lance Corporal on 10 May 1916. The battalion fought at the battles of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July and August 1916, with Aloysius receiving a gunshot wound to the shoulder on 7 August.
He was transferred on the Stad Antwarpan to a hospital in England. After recovering from his wounds he was given furlough in England where he contracted mumps and was again hospitalised.
On 29 September 1917, he re-joined the battalion at the Le Havre. Aloysius Banks was killed in action on 4 October 1917 while fighting near Broodseinde Ridge at the Battle of Passchendaele – one of the 6,500 Australian casualties from this battle. His body was never found.
His death came three weeks after his 21st birthday. During his enlistment, he had served in three of the major battles involving Australian forces in the war: Gallipoli, Pozieres and Passchendaele.
His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium. My great-grandmother, his sister, gave her second son the name of Passchendaele in his memory. Below is the last postcard send home from Aloysius.