It is an unfortunate fact of war that some are lost forever to the fields, or oceans, of battle with no hope of a proper earthly burial. This is none more evident that in the case of those who die whilst at sea. Seafarers have forever accepted that if you live on the sea you can also die on the sea, and that burial at sea is just a way of life. For the young men of AIF however this was probably the last thing on their minds as they departed on their voyage from Sydney, Australia to Alexandria, Egypt.

“The Euripides slipped away from Bradley’s Head at 6:30 a.m. on October 20th, 1914, and passed through the [Sydney] Heads to the accompaniment of shrieking siren calls from the early ferry steamers”. – pg 22, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935

Their six day uneventful voyage would take them down the south coast of New South Wales, through Bass Straight (between Victoria and Tasmania) past South Australia and finally arriving in the southern port of Albany, Western Australia on 26th October 1914.

“At noon on October 26th the Euripides steamed slowly to an anchorage in King George’s Sound, the picturesque harbour of Albany”. – pg 23, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935

The voyage continued on 1st November 1914, with the Euripides combining with 37 other troopships carrying Australian and New Zealand contingents to the front. The troopships all formed up outside King George’s Sound and were flanked by a flotilla of Australian, English and Japanese warships. The days leading up to the 6th November 1914 was uneventful and filled with dull routine.

“The weather was perfect, with scarcely a ripple on the water. A little diversion was caused on November 6th, when the Orient mail steamer Osterley passed close to the starboard line. The following day [7th November 1914] the battalion had its first casualty. Private V.H. Kendall of A Company passed away. He was buried at sea at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, November 8th, [1914,] with full military honours. The service was impressive. Naturally there was gloom throughout the whole ship”. – pg 25, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935

The name Kendall as it turns out is actually spelt incorrectly and should be KENDAL with one “l”. He was 147 KENDAL, Varley Hadden and he is now listed on the Chatby Memorial in the Chatby War Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria, Egypt. The following day his death was overshadowed by one of the most decisive naval battles of World War 1, of which the Euripides and the other ships nearly blundered straight in to.

“November 9th [1914] was the most exciting day of the voyage. The morning’s work was well under way and groups of men scattered over the troop decks were busily engaged in their various tasks and exercises when suddenly, as if drawn by a magnet, all eyes turned to the Japanese warship Ibuki, at this time not far distant on the starboard side. The flashing of helio messages and the clearing of the decks for action signified beyond doubt that something out of the ordinary was happening. All ranks paused in their work to watch the business-like methods of the Japs. The Ibuki, with dramatic swiftness, left her position in the line and ran straight across our bows, only to be suddenly recalled to her post – an order which, we learned later, caused great chagrin to the officers on our gallant ally. The cruiser on the port side of the convoy, H.M.A.S. Sydney, had previously disappeared over the western horizon. About 11 a.m. the message came through that the German raider Emden, in an engagement with the Sydney off Cocos Island, had been beached and was done for. There was great excitement on board. All work was suddenly forgotten and the remainder of the day was declared a holiday. While the news of the Emden’s fate was filtering through, Private Jack S. Lowe, a signaller in B Company, lay dying of illness. He was buried at 3 p.m. the same day”.  – pg 26, Eric Wren, Randwick to Hargicourt, 1935

LOWE’s name is actually 295 LOWE, John “Jack” Selby and he is now listed on the Chatby Memorial in the Chatby War Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria, Egypt.

The loss of these two men, whilst tragic, were luckily the only deaths for this maiden voyage of the 3rd Battalion on the Euripides. This remembrance day we pause to remember those lost, so I dedicate this day to the memory of Private KENDAL and Private LOWE. They were the first men of the 3rd Battalion to lay down their lives for Australia, and even though their bodies are lost forever to the ocean, they are still remembered.

Lest We Forget.