Combattants de la Somme 1914-1918-1940 Medal : Private E C Peddell, 2 Battalion AIF

Place Europe: France
Accession Number REL28884.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made c 1968
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

The obverse shows two ancient spearmen, shields forward and capes flowing, fighting side by side. One represents the Gaulish cock (France) and the other the English lion (Britain and the Commonwealth). Above the soldiers is a Nymph, 'The Somme', reclined with her left forearm resting on her urn, out of which flows the river, meandering through the plain of Picardy. There is text at the bottom which reads 'BATAILLES DELA SOMME JVILLET-NOVEMBRE MCMXVI'. The reverse is plain with text only. This reads 'COMBATTANTS DE LA SOMME 1914-1918-1940'. The ribbon consists of three stripes, two outer gold stripes and one central blue stripe, which represents the blue of the Somme river flowing through the golden crops. The ribbon is secured to the medal with a copper ring.

History / Summary

Associated with the First World War service of Ernest Charles Peddell who 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.