Service dress tunic : Private G J Giles, 29 Battalion, AIF

Unit 29th Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Corbie Albert Area, Morlancourt
Accession Number RELAWM04500.003
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Brass, Mud, Wool flannel, Wool serge
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: Giles/1918 Uniforms
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1916-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Description

Other ranks' wool serge service dress tunic with stand and fall collar secured by a pair of brass hooks and eyes, pleated breast pockets with triple pointed flaps, expanding hip pockets, also with triple pointed flaps, shoulder straps, a self fabric belt with brass slide, which is stitched to the tunic, back yoke and box pleat down the centre back extending from yoke to hem. The collar carries oxidised brass Rising Sun badges and the shoulders carry oxidised brass curved 'AUSTRALIA' titles. Five large oxidised Australian Military Forces buttons close the front of the tunic. Similar, smaller buttons secure the pockets, shoulder straps and cuffs. The cuffs themselves have been turned back, an indication that the sleeves were too long for the wearer. The head of each sleeve carries a vertically aligned rectangular colour patch, divided centrally black (front to wearer) and yellow (rear of wearer), for 29th Battalion, AIF.

The tunic is encrusted with dried mud, especially below the waist and on the lower sleeves.

History / Summary

This tunic was collected from George James Giles by official historian Charles Bean at the end of July 1918 when Giles was on his way out to rest after a week in the line near Morlancourt. On 29 July 1918 the 5th Australian Division successfully attacked the German positions at Morlancourt, taking two lines of trenches, 128 prisoners and 36 machine-guns. The 29 Battalion war diary notes that although the weather condition were fine, the trenches themsleves were 'in a very bad state with mud and water from the recent rain'. In some places men had to wade in water as high as their knees.

Giles was born on 4 November 1884 and was a 33 year old labourer on enlistment in the AIF on 16 May 1916. He embarked for overseas service with 29 Battalion, 10th Reinforcements aboard HMAT Port Melbourne on 21 October, arriving in England in December. Proceeding overseas to France on 5 April 1917 Giles was taken on strength by 29 Battalion on 10 April. He had an extended period out of the line from July to October when he was hospitalised with influenza. After returning to his unit, Giles was hospitalised for a second time in January 1918 again suffering from influenza. He was evacuated to England and convalesced there until April when he returned to his unit.

During the August offensive Giles was recommended for a Military Medal for actions at Vauvillers. His recommendation reads “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations near VAUVILLERS, East of VILLERS-BRETONNEUX on 9th August 1918. During the work of consolidating several of his comrades, whilst covering the working party, were wounded by snipers, who were operating from concealed positions at very close range. Pte. GILES though not a stretcher bearer, and in spite of the fact that he was exhausted, went forward and succeeded in dressing the wounds, of his comrades. He organised stretcher parties and personally assisted to remove the wounded to a place of safety. By so doing he undoubtedly saved the lives of several men. Throughout the whole operation he displayed great courage and coolness under most trying conditions. By his personal efforts he did much to ensure the success of his platoon.” This award was gazetted on 24 January 1919.

Giles transferred to 32 Battalion on 12 October where he remained until the end of the war. Returning to England in April 1919, he embarked for return to Australia aboard HMAT Orita on 23 June arriving in Melbourne on 6 August. He was formally discharged form active service on 14 September 1919. George Giles died 30 June 1942 aged 58 years.