Toothbrush head : Private F A Dyson, 54 Battalion, AIF : Pheasant Wood mass grave, Fromelles

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Fromelles
Accession Number REL44975.016
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Animal horn
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1916: Pheasant Wood
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1915-1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Toothbrush head made from animal horn, with fifteen rows of four holes to hold the bristles, and four long grooves in the top of the head. The bristles are missing.

History / Summary

Toothbrush head found with the remains of Private Frederick Arthur Dyson, 54 Battalion, AIF in the Pheasant Wood mass grave at Fromelles.

The 54th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 16 February 1916 as part of the “doubling” of the AIF. Half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 2nd Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 2nd, the 54th was predominantly composed of men from New South Wales. The battalion became part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division.

Moving to France in June 1916, the 54th fought its first major battle on the Western Front at Fromelles, on 19 July. It was a disaster. The 54th was part of the initial assault and suffered casualties equivalent to 65 per cent of its fighting strength. Casualty rates among the rest of the 5th Division were similarly high, but despite these losses it continued to man the front in the Fromelles sector for a further two months.

Dyson was born in Yarravel, Kempsey, New South Wales. He was working as a labourer and was 19 years and two months of age when he enlisted on 4 November 1915. He was reported killed in action on 19/20 July 1916.