Phil Mounsey shares the story of his Grandfather, Jonathan Mounsey and his Great Uncle, Walter Mounsey – both men served in the Great War.
Jonathan Mounsey was born in Ballarat in 1892. He was a toolmaker by trade, serving his apprenticeship in a blacksmith shop. Before WWI broke out he was working in a factory in Brisbane. Not wanting to be condemned for ‘dodging Military Training,’ he enlisted in the permanent army. He had just finished his rookie training when war broke out. He embarked aboard HMAT Argyllshire from Sydney on 18 October 1914.
Jonathan, also known as Jack, was proud of his regimental number 149. He served in the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Battery, 1st Australian Division, A.I.F. He was a driver and gunner. He served on Gallipoli from the morning of April 25, 1915 until the last night of the evacuation. He saw action at both ANZAC Cove and Cape Helles. After the evacuation, Jack was shipped to Egypt, then onto France and the Western Front. He was promoted to Bombardier and later to Corporal. Wounded in action, he remained on duty. The second time he was wounded, four days later, was more severe, being a gun-shot wound to the thigh.
Jack was evacuated to England to recuperate and then returned to duty in France, where he was promoted to Sergeant. He returned to Australia on the troopship Port Hacking and was discharged in March 1919. Although he walked with a limp due to his shrapnel wounds, he marched every year on ANZAC Day to remember the fallen. Jack died at the age of 90.
Walter Mounsey was living with his parents in Wonthaggi when he enlisted on 6 Janurary 1915. He joined the 3rd Reinforcements, 8th Battalion, 1st Australian Division, Australian Imperial Force. He had a letter with him stating he had his parents’ permission to travel abroad – he was only 19.
His regimental number was 1680 and after basic training at the barracks in Broadmeadows he embarked from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Runic on 19 February 1915 to Egypt. From there he was sent to the Gallipoli Peninsular and into the trenches at Lone Pine.
He was seriously wounded in action, with gun-shot wounds to his face, arm and leg. His leg was amputated and he was evacuated, severely ill, to Egypt. There he died from his wounds on 23 August 1915. He is buried at Alexandria Military Cemetery, Egypt. Letters sent to his parents by his mates in the trenches state that he was “not too bad,“ that he had taken himself to the base hospital and they had expected him back in a week or so. We can only imagine the confusion and anguish suffered by Walter’s parents receiving such conflicting information and holding onto hope – a mistake had been made. Lest We Forget.