Schultz, James (Assumed name: Perry, Richard Lyell) (Private, b.1898)

Accession Number PR05848
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 1 wallet: 5 cm.
Object type Letter
Maker Schultz, James
Place made Belgium
Date made 1916-1919
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the First World War service of 2052 Private James (Jim) Schultz, 4th Division Cyclists Corps, 1st Anzac Cyclist Battalion, France and Belgium, 1916–1919. The collection consists of 32 letters written by Schultz to his mother, Emily. Schultz wrote regularly and fondly to his mother, and a rather poignant letter at the close of the war reads ‘My Dearest Mother, I received your letter (October 4th) today, and as it was the first I have had from you for a long time, I was pleased to get it. I had to go and cry over it, to think of all that you have gone through lately, and to hear that you will not be strong again. But you will always be the best mother in the world to me. I know I have caused you and father a lot of trouble, more than all the others put together, and I will never be able to make up for it. I was very ungrateful and silly to leave home like I did, after all you have done for me …’.

Shultz’ letter alludes to the events surrounding his enlistment. On 29 October 1915, at the age of 16, he left the family home in Wynarka, South Australia, and headed to Melbourne to enlist in the AIF. He enlisted under the pseudonym Richard Lyell Perry, and gave the false age of 19 years. He also gave a nominal address, Bendigo, Victoria, and provided written consent purporting to be from his father, Chas E Perry, of Kaniva. Schultz’ parents in fact had no idea that he had enlisted until a month later, when he sent a letter home announcing his enlistment. Initial letters home were signed ‘Your loving son Jim’. It wasn’t until October 1916 that his assumed name, RL Perry, was included in letters. In July 1917, Schultz’ mother, Emily, signed a Statutory Declaration addressed to the Officer in Charge, Base Records, declaring she was the mother of James Schultz, who had enlisted under the assumed name of RL Perry. Accordingly, Schultz also signed a Statutory Declaration. A document dated 19th December 1917 reads ‘It is notified for information that Australian Imperial Force Headquarters, London, furnishes a Statutory Declaration by No. 2051, Private RL Perry, Anzac Cyclists Battalion, wherein he declares that he enlisted in the AIF under an assumed name, his correct one being JAMES SCHULTZ’.

The revelation that Schultz enlisted under a pseudonym and false age did not compromise his service; he served the course of the war with the 1st Anzac Cyclist Battalion. Schultz, like many of the men of the 1st Anzac Cyclist Battalion, was recruited from reinforcements for the 4th Light Horse, who arrived in Egypt during the Gallipoli campaign. Schultz transferred to the 4th Division Cyclists Corps, 1st Anzac Cyclist Battalion, in July 1916. The cyclists were employed militarily for the first time when the 1st Division entered the line south of Armentieres in mid-April 1916. They played a significant role carrying messages and transporting men quickly and economically behind the front. The cyclists would scout ahead, determining the best routes forward, and provide mobile contact between the flanks of brigades and divisions. Additionally they undertook support roles, such as police work, traffic control, and building light railways. On some occasions cyclists experienced battle, but theirs was predominantly a support role.

Schultz’ letters home describe his daily experiences and activities as a cyclist. He talks of camp conditions, the weather, routine tasks, health, movements and billets. A letter from France dated 15th November 1918 reads ‘Dear Mother, just a few lines to say things are still going well, although we have lost our good home and are up in the forward area again, amongst shell-holes and ruined houses. Of course there is no shell fire as the Germans have slung in the towel, but it isn’t a very nice place all the same. The joint we are now in was in German hands for four years and the French people can tell some nice tales. They would make your heart bleed just to look at them, especially the children, but I don’t intend to write about that. Well, the war seems to be just about settled now doesn’t it. We ought to be back in Aussie before very long I should say ….’.

Eight months on from this letter, on 7 July 1919, Schultz returned to Australia aboard the ‘Nestor’. He discharged from the Army on 22 August 1919.

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