Service dress tunic : Sergeant O D Benjamin, 6 Field Artillery Brigade, AIF

Accession Number REL38151
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Brass, Cotton, Oxidised brass, Polished cotton, Silk, Wool flannel
Maker Berkeleys Ltd
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London
Date made c 1919
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Other rank's pattern private purchase khaki wool gabardine service dress tunic with pleated breast pockets with pointed flaps. There are two large expanding pockets on each side of the front skirt, also with pointed flaps. The jacket has a back yoke. A box pleat extends from the yoke down the length of the centre back. There are further loose pleats at the back, held in place by the self fabric belt which is sewn in place around the waist. The loose ends of the belt are secured by a brass buckle slide. The shoulder straps are missing oxidised brass 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder titles and the collar its oxidised brass Rising Sun badges, although marks in the fabric show that these were once present. The front of the jacket, shoulder straps, cuffs and pocket flaps are secured by oxidised brass Australian Military Forces buttons. Both upper sleeves bear red and blue colour patches for 6 Field Artillery Brigade. The right sleeve bears woven rank chevrons for sergeant on a khaki cloth ground. The lower left sleeve bears two gold Russia braid wound stripes. Above the right sleeve cuff are four blue embroidered overseas service chevrons. There are silk medal ribbons sewn above the left breast pocket for the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal. The inside jacket yoke, neck, belt and pocket flaps are lined with dark green polished cotton. The top of each pocket and the inside armhole openings are bound with khaki cotton tape. A white manufacturer's label, woven in black, is sewn inside the back neck. It reads, 'BERKLEYS LTD 125 Victoria Street LONDON S.W.'. The label is also marked in black ink '385'.

History / Summary

Oswald Deronda Benjamin was a 31 year old Melbourne accountant when he enlisted for service in the AIF on 20 September 1915. A week later, with the rank of gunner and service number 7978, he was assigned to the 16th Battery of 6 Field Artillery Brigade (FAB). The battery left for overseas service aboard HMAT A34 Persic on 22 November 1915, arriving in Egypt shortly before the end of the year. After the battery transferred to France for service on the Western Front, Benjamin transferred to 2 Divisional Ammunition Column before rejoining 6 FAB at the beginning of July 1916, as an acting bombardier. In June 1917 he was slightly wounded in action, but remained on duty. At the beginning of 1918 Benjamin was confirmed in the rank of bombardier, and then promoted to corporal in March and to sergeant on 3 May. He was again wounded, on 8 May, receiving a gunshot wound to the left thigh, and was evacuated to the War Hospital at Stratford on Avon in England. Although the wound was described as 'light', Benjamin did not rejoin 6 FAB until 4 October. After the war, in 1919, he transferred to the Australian Army Pay Corps in London. It was here that he had this tunic custom made, especially to wear home to Australia. The tunic is typical of such garments in that it is made from a higher quality fabric than the standard issue wool serge tunic, and is partially lined. Benjamin returned to Australia, aboard HMAT Medic on 10 April 1919. His brother, Bombardier Stanley Octavius Benjamin, who served with 1 Divisional Ammunition column, died of wounds on 23 November 1916.