First World War, 1914-1918
60th anniversary of Armistice Day, French medallion: Mr E C Peddell
Circular bronze commemorative medallion. The obverse shows in raised relief, the eternal flame, a bugle and sprigs of oak and laurel leaves. There is text in French around the edge which reads 'SOIXANTIEME ANNIVERSAIRE DE L'ARMISTICE 11 NOVEMBRE 1918'. The reverse shows an ear of wheat to the left with foliage and a french helmet above text which reads 'AUX COMBATTANTS DE TOUTES LES GUERRES LA FRANCE RECONNAISSANTE'. The medallion is presented in a square, blue cardboard box.
This medallion was presented to Ernest Peddell by the French government to commemorate his First World War service. Peddell was born on 10 July 1899 in Sydney, NSW. Peddell, a shop assistant in a grocery and ironmonger's store, enlisted aged 17 at West Maitland, NSW, on 20 January 1917. He was allocated to the 2nd Battalion AIF as a private with the service number 7308 and sailed from Australia aboard RMS Osterly in February 1917, disembarking in Plymouth two months later. Once in England Peddell was found to be underage and was detained in juvenile training until his 18th birthday, when he rejoined his unit for service on the Western Front.
On 12 August 1918, the 2nd Battalion was serving in the Somme Valley, near Auger Wood. During this time Peddell received shell wounds to his right hand and thigh, resulting in the loss of the first joint of his thumb. He was invalided to England where he spent time in hospital convalescing. He returned to Australia aboard HMAT Mamari on 14 February 1919 and was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit on 3 April.
During the inter war years Peddell served in the Militia (home defence force) with the 2nd Battalion. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he enlisted as a private on 18 July 1940 with the Second AIF at Gunning, NSW, and was allocated the service number NX60381. He was posted to the 9th Battalion and promoted to acting lance corporal and then to acting corporal in August.
In early February 1941 Peddell was transferred to Tamworth for training and promoted to acting sergeant. He married Ella Mary Medway before being posted to the Middle East in May 1941. There he served briefly with 9th Australian Infantry Special Group, before joining the 2/17th Battalion in September. He was then transferred to the AIF (Middle East) Security Battalion in December and Headquarters Guard Battalion in January 1942. He was promoted to corporal in June.
Peddell returned to Australia in February 1943 and spent several months recovering from a shoulder injury. In February 1944 he joined the 2/1st Guard Regiment before being posted to New Guinea in May. On his return to Australia in September he joined the 22nd Garrison Battalion based at the Cowra prisoner of war camp. In November Peddell was hospitalised due to malaria and pneumonia which he contracted while in New Guinea. He was subsequently classified unfit for service outside Australia or in hot, humid climates. Peddell spent the remainder of the war with the 22nd Garrison Battalion at Cowra until his discharge on 27 August 1945.
Ernest Charles Peddell passed away on 6 September 2000, aged 101. On his 100th birthday he was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government, and was presented with commemorative coins and medallions from the Australian and New Zealand Governments.
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