Native Weapon : Private E C N Devlin, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force

Unit Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Place Oceania: Pacific Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, New Britain, Gazelle Peninsula, Rabaul Area, Rabaul
Accession Number RELAWM08190.004
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged Weapon or Club
Physical description Metal, Plant fibre, Wood
Maker Unknown
Place made Pacific Islands: Bismarck Archipelago, New Britain, Gazelle Peninsula, Rabaul Area, Rabaul
Date made c 1914
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Native Weapon. The weapon is designed for two handed fighting. At one end is a metal axe head and at the opposite end is a large carved wooden spear blade. The spear blade is finely carved and appears to be integral to the haft. Featured on both sides of the blade are what appear to be eyes carved into a stylised face. At the base of the spear blade has been hand carved two collars with concentric notches on them. Above the collars is a knotted grass decoration and above that a finely knotted grass decoration which had fine leaves extending from the knotted ring. The remainder of the haft, although roughly cut, has been stained and highly polished.

History / Summary

Associated with the service of Private Errol Cappie Nepean Devlin, who was born in Penrith, NSW in 1891. hen the First World War began, Devlin was amongst the first to volunteer for service in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) which was being raised to seize German interests in New Guinea and surrounding islands.

He enlisted on 12 August 1914 and was posted to A Company, 1 (Tropical) Battalion with the service number 91. He sailed with his unit from Sydney on 19 August aboard HMAT A35 Berrima.

After a brief stop at Palm Island, the ANMEF sailed for German New Guinea and began landing troops at Kabakaul, New Britain on 11 September. After some short, but savage fighting, the German forces surrendered and the British Flag was raised over Rabaul on 12 September. Within five days all hostilities were declared over.

Devlin became part of the garrison force on New Britain. He collected several native weapons during his service, bringing them back to Australia when he returned at the end of February 1915. He was discharged from the ANMEF on 4 March 1915.

Devlin enlisted in the AIF on 29 March as a private with the service number of 1166 and was posted to D Company, 18 Infantry Battalion. After completing his initial training, Devlin embarked in May with his unit from Sydney aboard HMAT A40 Ceramic bound for Egypt. From June until early August, 18 Battalion spent much of their time in Egypt training for service at Gallipoli.

On 16 August, the battalion embarked for Gallipoli, where they arrived on 20 August. They were given no time to acclimatise to their surroundings and were thrown into the Australian's final offensive on the Gallipoli Peninsular, the Battle for Hill 60. The battalion suffered heavily with 50% casualties over the following days,. The offensive lasted until 29 August, when the battalion was withdrawn. For the remainder of the campaign, the men of the 18th were engaged in a purely defensive role, spending most of their time in the front line at Courtney's Post.

Following the withdrawal of all allied troops from the ANZAC area in December 1915, 18 Battalion returned to Egypt for a period of further training and an influx of much needed reinforcements. During this time Devlin began a collection of badges from other units to pin to a belt.

In March, the battalion embarked for service in France, arriving at Marseilles towards the end of the month. 18 Battalion moved up to the Nursery Sector near Armentieres and went into the front line for the first time in April near Bois Grenier.

The battalion spent more time in the line in May, learning to patrol no man's land and other intricacies of trench warfare. German snipers were quite active in this area of the front and at the end of May, a number of men from 18 Battalion were killed by snipers, including Private Devlin. His body was taken to the Brewery Orchard Cemetery at Bois Grenier where he was buried.