Text: Elisabeth Anderson
Images: Elisabeth Anderson, Julie Reece
Edward Mullin, of Aldgate Valley, fought with the 27th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in World War I and is believed to have lost his life in one of the major battles of the War against the German Army, the Battle of Passchendaele in West Flanders. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, one of 54,900 missing World War I soldiers commemorated there.
Born in Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland, Edward was a son of John and Mary Mulllin. He was six years of age when he and his family came to Australia around 1886. He had three brothers and two sisters. Edward became a stone mason and brick layer, was never married, and in 1915 enlisted with the Army – at the age of 34 years and 11 months. On 31st May that year he embarked in Adelaide on HMAT Geelong for the Middle East, but by October he was hospitalised in Alexandria with enteric fever and returned to Australia in January 1916. He re-joined his Battalion upon his recovery to serve in France and there was promoted to the rank of Corporal.
The battle in which he is believed to have lost his life took place on reclaimed swampy marshland. Extremely heavy preparatory bombardment by the British had torn up the surface of the land and heavy rain produced an impassable terrain of deep ‘liquid mud’ in which an unknown number of soldiers drowned. After three months of fierce fighting the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele on 5th November 1917, ending the battle in which allies suffered almost half a million casualties and the Germans just over a quarter of a million.
Correspondence filed in the war archives reveals something of his family’s anguish and confusion over initial advice that Edward had been injured and a private message that he had been killed.
Edward is named on the Roll of Honour in the Hall at the Aldgate Oval, whilst oak trees on the perimeter of the oval also commemorate individual World War I soldiers, including Edward. He can be seen in a group photograph taken at the official opening of the hall in 1913, suggesting his involvement in its construction.
Edward is also named on the obelisk at the Aldgate RSL building and in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Meanwhile a weathered marble scroll bearing his name leans against the marble monument of his parents’ grave, plot no. 2 in the Stirling Catholic Cemetery in Strathalbyn Road. It records the date of his death as being on 4th October 1917.
Do you have stories or memories of Edward Mullin or other service-people associated with the Adelaide Hills?
Contact us at email@example.com or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.