Name: Ferninand Cyril Church

 

Birth Date: 30th November, 1892 Where: Launceston,Tasmania
Died: 29 July, 1916 Where: Pozieres, France
Place of Enlistment: Claremont, Tasmania Age: 22
Serial Number: 1795 Battalion: 26th
Rank on Enlistment: Private Rank on Discharge/Death: Private

Awards: 1914 - 15 Star, British War Medal 1914 - 1920, Victory Medal, Military Medal

 

Photograph Church

Service Details:

 

 

8 June

1915                      Enlisted

17 July

1915                      Embarked Australia

10 Sept. – 12 Dec.

1915                      Gallipoli

21 March

1916                      France

6/7 June

1916                      Trench Raid

29 July

1916                      Killed in Action, Pozieres (Sausage Valley)

 

 

 

 

Biographical Details:

Ferdinand Cyril Church, a bushman, the eldest son of Alfred and Emily Sarah Church, was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 30th November, 1892. His grandfather, George Church, was a convict sent to Australia  in 1843 for stealing two sheep from his employer, a farmer in Buckinghamshire. Ferdie, as he was known to his family, grew up and was educated in Scottsdale where he made his living cutting timber.


Ferdinand enlisted on 15th June 1915 and received some training in Australia before embarking on the Orsova for Egypt in July 1915.  Here the 7th Brigade completed its training before proceeding to Gallipoli in September 1915.


Ferdinand volunteered for and took part in the June 6/7th trench raid where he was part of Captain Caless’s trench party.


In late June 1916, Daniel Quinn, who also took part in the raid, wrote a letter to his mother which was published in the The Mercury on 25th July, 1916. In this letter Daniel refers to his Tasmanian pal Church who Daniel was convinced would receive a D.C.M. (Distinguished Conduct Medal). In fact Ferdinand was one of only two soldiers who were awarded Military Medals for their part in that raid.


The gazetted statement of Ferdinand’s MM cited “bravery in the field”.  Brigadier Paton’s recommendation was more explicit:
On the night of the 6th/7th June during a raid on the enemy trenches he led the way up their trenches, personally bayonetting two Germans and was the means of taking two more prisoner. He showed coolness skill and courage.


His MM was to have been formally presented by the Corps Commander, General Birdwood, at Brigade headquarters in August, 1916.


On July 29th, the 7th Brigade was involved in in action at Pozieres.  Daniel was initially posted as missing in action.
An informant quoted in a December 1916 Red Cross enquiry into Ferdinand’s Death stated:
I saw the stretcher bearers bringing in a wounded man about July 29th near Pozieres.  I asked who it was, and they said it was Pte. Church. I think that was the night when our attack was a failure and we were tangled in the barbed wire.


In July 1917 a formal court of enquiry found that Ferdinand was killed in action.


Ferdinand’s body was never found and his death is recorded at Villiers Bretonneux. His personal effects, sent to his father were simply listed as: strap, 3 pipes, Testament

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In August 1917 Ferdinand’s mother placed the following notice in the Examiner:


CHURCH - Killed in action at Pozieres on July 29th, 1916, Private Ferdinand Cyril Church, eldest dearly beloved son of Alfred H. and Emily S. Church, of Scottsdale. Aged 23 years and 8 months.
Previously reported wounded and missing. Your death has made us sad, dear Ferd., We are sorrowed by your fall; But you died an Australian soldier, 'Tis the grandest death of all.