|Location||Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1916: Pheasant Wood|
First World War, 1914-1918
Identity disc : Private E A Jentsch, 53 Battalion, AIF
Circular aluminium identity disc engraved '3331, E.A. Jentsch, 53 Batt, A.I.F., C of E.'. The numeral '5' in this text has been dot-punched on at a latter time, indicating a change from 3rd. Battalion. 'C of E' has been roughly scratched on, not engraved.
Associated with 3331 Lance Sergeant Ernest Augustus Jentsch, 53 Battalion, AIF, from Petersham, NSW, who was working as a clerk when he enlisted on 3 June 1915 at the age of 21.
Originally assigned to the 11th Reinforcements for 3 Battalion, Jentsch sailed for Egypt from Sydney aboard HMAT A14 Euripides, on 2 November 1915. He was transferred to 53 Battalion at Zeitoun, Egypt, as a private, on 16 February 1916. On 8 May he was promoted to corporal, and then appointed a lance sergeant on 22 May. The battalion arrived in France on 28 June for service on the Western Front and subsequently moved into the line at Fleurbaix.
On 17 July the battalion entered the trenches in preparation for the attack on Fromelles. The ensuing battle was a disaster for the Australians, who lost 5533 men killed, wounded or taken prisoner. 53 Battalion took part in the initial assault and suffered grievously, incurring 625 casualties, amounting to over three-quarters of its attacking strength. Jentsch was among the dead, killed instantly by a shell which blew off his head, at about 6pm on 19 July. His body was not recovered as it lay in an area controlled by the Germans. German authorities however, confirmed his body had been identified in 1916 and again after the war, in October 1919.
The Germans buried many of the Australian and British dead in a number of mass graves. Most of the dead were recovered from these graves after the war and reinterred in the VC Corner Military Cemetery. Despite this a considerable number remained missing. Research in 2007 and 2008 identified the possible site of further mass graves at Pheasant's Wood, near Fromelles and 250 further bodies were exhumed in 2009. Items recovered with the bodies proved that many were Australian soldiers. DNA testing was subsequently able to conclusively identify some of the individual remains, including those of Ernest Jentsch. The remains were subsequently reinterred in 2010 in the newly dedicated Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery.
This identity disc, of the single type issued to the AIF from 1914 to 1916, appears to have been originally worn by Jentsch in 1915 when he was assigned to 3 Battalion. He later modified it in early 1916, when he transferred to 53 Battalion.