Lieutenant Colonel J H Peck
ID numberART02485
Collection typeArt
TitleLieutenant Colonel J H Peck
Measurementsheet: 38.8 x 56.6 cm (irreg.); image: 36.2 x 54.2 cm
Object typeDrawing
MakerFullwood, A Henry
Place madeFrance
Date made1918
Physical descriptionwatercolour and gouache with pencil and charcoal on paper
CopyrightCopyright expired - public domain
DescriptionDepicts Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Peck, CMG, DSO, General Staff 5th Division, working at AIF headquarters St Gratien. Peck (1886-1928), was born on 22 July 1886 in Sydney. He enlisted as a gunner in the Garrison Artillery in 1907. By 1912 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Administrative and Instructional Staff. When war broke out Peck enlisted in the AIF. He was adjutant of the 11th Battalion at the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. He led a rush from the beach with the cry, 'Come on, boys! By God, I'm frightened', but that afternoon he was wounded and evacuated. He served as staff captain and later as brigade major of the 3rd Brigade. When the AIF was re organised in 1916 Peck became brigade major of the 12th Brigade. After three months he was given command of the brigade's training battalion which he took to England. On 31 August he was made brigade major of the 4th Brigade on the Somme, but in December became commanding officer of the 14th Battalion as lieutenant-colonel. Peck revelled in his command and in time his men 'just about worshipped him'. At Bullecourt, on 11 April 1917, the 14th, like its sister battalions, was 'shattered in the performance of an impracticable task'. Peck, profoundly shaken, began rebuilding his unit but was posted to 3rd Division Headquarters under Major General (Sir) John Monash. At Messines on 8 June, when the location of one of the assaulting battalions was obscure, Peck went forward to it through a tumultuous bombardment to obtain accurate information. After a month on the staff of 1st Anzac Corps he was posted to 5th Division Headquarters as general staff officer, grade 1, to Major General (Sir) Talbot Hobbs in September 1917. He was at Polygon Wood and Passchendaele, the counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux, and the battles up to the capture of Peronne on 2 September 1918, when he was evacuated to hospital. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1917), appointed C.M.G. (1918) and mentioned in Despatches five times. After serving with the Repatriation and Demobilization Department in London, Peck returned to Australia in May 1919. He was briefly on the staff of the 5th Military District in Perth before going to the Staff College at Camberley, England, in 1920. Having graduated, he studied military administration, concentrating on transport and supply. Posted to the quartermaster general's branch at Army Headquarters, Melbourne, in 1922, Peck improved ration scales, conducted a school of messing and cooking for instructors, and sought to develop the interest of commanders in messing. In 1925 he was seconded to the Commonwealth Treasury as chairman of the Expropriation Board, settling claims of former residents of German New Guinea. Peck went to Brisbane in 1927 as senior general staff officer of the 11th (Mixed) Brigade. In spite of illness he immediately made an impact on the brigade but was soon forced to give up work. He died of chronic nephritis in Brisbane on 2 September 1928. Major General Sir John Gellibrand considered that Peck 'was out of the top drawer as a soldier' and C. E. W. Bean regarded him as one of the best officers in the A.I.F.