Autographed French flag : Staff Sergeant J A Johns, 9 Australian Field Ambulance AIF

Place Europe: France
Accession Number REL35044
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Flag
Physical description Cotton
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made c 1917-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

French flag comprised of vertical sections of blue (hoist), white and red fabric sewn together. Sewn to the back of the white section is the brown oval colour patch of the Australian Army Medical Corps 3 Australian Division. The colour patch has an unusual green knitted background which is thought to represent 9 Australian Field Ambulance as stretcher bearers of this unit distinguished themselves by wearing a green band on their left sleeve. Written below the colour patch are the signatures and home towns of members of 9 Australian Field Ambulance and a number of residents from the French towns which the unit visited.

History / Summary

Autographed French flag collected by 16139 Staff Sergeant James Arthur Johns. Born in Otago, New Zealand in 1893, Johns served with the Senior Cadets and 4 Infantry Regiment before migrating to Australia. At the outbreak of the First World War he was employed as a chemist at Hollis & Co in Goulburn, NSW. Johns enlisted in the AIF on 2 September 1915, aged 22, and embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT Hororata on 2 May 1916. Arriving in Alexandria, Egypt on 12 June Johns was admitted to hospital with mumps several days later. After recuperating at a convalescent home in Montazah he was appointed dispenser on board the hospital ship HMAT Seang Choon which sailed to Australia in late July. Johns later returned to England aboard HMAT Beltana on 29 January 1917. In March he proceeded to France and was transferred to 9 Australian Field Ambulance where he saw action at Messines, Ypres and Villers-Bretonneux. At the end of the war Johns received three months training in elementary bacteriology at a pharmacy in London. He returned to Australia on 15 December 1919 aboard HMAT Wahehe. Over time some of the signatures on the flag have faded, however the following names have been identified: Commanding Officer Colonel Frederick Arthur Maguire; 34A Sergeant Edward Hayes; 10662 Staff Sergeant Edward Arthur Godfrey; 11963 Lance Corporal William John Frank; 12036 Lance Corporal Rolfe Valentine Irwin Ormsby; 11928 Private Verner William Cocks; 11993 Lance Corporal Edward Roy Jamieson; 12067 Private Harry James Snedden; 11922 Private James Stewart Campbell; 12012 Private Archibald Andrew Martin; 12028 Corporal Alan Rowat Murray; 12010 Lance Corporal Arthur Linden Mance; 16660 Private Gilford Hartley Borrowdale; 11904 Private Garnet Lyndon Barrow; 14548 Private William Aldridge; 12086 Sergeant Samuel John Watson; 2691 Private Leslie Francis McKenna; 11942 Private William Patrick Curry; 11900 Private John O'Connor Atkins; 12009 Private John Thomas Mahon; 11996 Private Francis William Kelly; 11979 Sergeant Leonard Haskins; 12008 Private Robert Hugh Mahaffey; 11891 Staff Sergeant Charles James Mooney; 3020 Staff Sergeant Eric Gerald Alexander; 11909 Private Richard Watson Bickford; 11908 Private John Wilson Bell; 11941 Lance Corporal William Young Cunningham, 17575 Private John Charles Williams; 7341 Private Roy L Wentworth; 16139 Staff Sergeant James Arthur Johns; 12060 Corporal Cecil Eric Savage; 3654 Sergeant Henry James Johnston; 12082 Lance Corporal William Wagstaffe; 12003 Private Frederick Lee; 7755 Private Harry Lee; 10277 Private Enoch Baker; 7675 Private John Norton D'Ombrain; 11986 Temporary Corporal Charles Holland; 13016 Private Alfred George Bryce Henderson; 10243 Private Norman Wilson; 18036 Private Phillip Ernest Fowler; 12107 Private Edward Richardson Figtree; 11899 Private Normon Clyde Allen.