Private Albert Ernest Manley

Accession Number AWM2020.988.1
Collection type Photograph
Object type Digital file
Maker Mote, S C
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London, Lewisham, New Cross
Date made c 1900-1912
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Studio portrait of Private Albert Ernest Manley, Grenadier Guards.
Albert Manley was born in 1881 in Devonshire, England, the seventh of ten children of John and Catherine Manley. After Albert’s birth, the Manley family moved to Eltham in London. Known by his middle name of “Ernest”, Manley joined the British military, and served for 12 years as a private in the Grenadier Guards.
In 1908 Manley married Eleanor Caselton of Kent and the pair lived in London. By the beginning of the First World War, however, the couple had migrated to Australia. They were living in the Sydney suburb of Leichardt, where Albert worked for the Leichardt Municipal Council.
Albert Manley joined the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force and, due to his military experience, was soon promoted to corporal. The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force consisted of about 1,000 soldiers and 500 sailors who were tasked with capturing German protectorates to the north of Australia in New Guinea. The force had been created extremely rapidly, and on 19 September 1914, just over a week after enlisting, Manley embarked from Sydney aboard the HMAT Berrima, bound for New Guinea.
Arriving in New Guinea, Australian troops took part in the seizure of key towns and German radio stations. Manley took part in the successful and unopposed capture of the town of Rabaul. The mission to New Guinea was the first action seen by Australian soldiers in the First World War.
Shortly before leaving Rabaul in March 1915, Manley contracted malaria, a disease that would prevent him from joining the main Australian Imperial Force until September 1916. Until he was able to enlist in the AIF, he served at a camp guarding German prisoners. In the period between his service in New Guinea and the Western Front, Manley and Eleanor had a daughter, Mary Eileen Ivy Lavain, born in April 1916.
In September 1916, cleared of malaria, Manley was finally able to depart for the war in Europe. He arrived in France in the freezing December of 1916. The 20th Infantry Battalion, of which Manley was part, occupied the Dernancourt sector of the front in the Somme region of northern France. On the night of 5 February 1917, while the 20th Battalion was in the process of moving to position behind the front line, a German aircraft dropped a bomb into a hut in which some soldiers were taking refuge.
Manley received a compound fracture to the skull and was rushed to the 5th Australian Field Ambulance. He did not recover from his wounds and died on 7 February 1917. He had been on the Western Front for just over a month. Just six days after his death, his brother Alfred set sail back home for Australia after having sustained a serious gunshot wound to his spine.
Manley was buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. Learning of his death, his grieving widow, now left to raise their infant daughter, wrote in the local newspaper: “My dear husband Pte A. E. Manley. A soldier and a man”.

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