Francis Joseph Hunt

First Name: 
Francis
Middle Name: 
Joseph
Last Name: 
Hunt
Alternate Spelling: 
Frank
Mother's Name: 
Ellen Hunt (nee Broadbent)
Father's Name: 
George Charles Hunt
Date Enlisted: 
Saturday, March 31, 1917
Rank at Enlistment: 
Private
Unit: 
56th Battalion & 45th Battalion
Service: 
Infantry
Awards: 
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Date of Death: 
Wednesday, June 12, 1918
Place of Death: 
France
Cause of Death: 
KIA (Gassed)
Details: 

Francis Joseph Hunt (Service No 3648) was born in Helensburgh NSW in 1897, to George Charles Hunt (coal miner) and Ellen Broadbent. He was my great uncle.

Francis attended school at Helensburgh, with his brothers William and Thomas and his sisters Alice and Edith.  He belonged to the Church of England.  Upon leaving school he got a job as a labourer. He lived in Park Street, Helensburgh.

When war was declared Frank joined the Citizens Forces (CMF) as soon as he was old enough, as he was too young to enlist.  Both his brothers, William and Thomas, had already enlisted.  Frank's mother died on19th April 1916 when he was 18.  His father then gave his consent for Francis to join the AIF under age.

Francis enlisted in the AIF at Victoria Barracks Sydney on 31 March 1917 at the age of 19. He was 5ft 7 inches tall and weighed 124lbs. He was assigned to the 45th Battalion, 9th and 10th Reinforcements and he embarked with his Unit on the HMAT Marathon on 10th May 1917.   On 1 July, while on board he created a disturbance by throwing lifebelts after lights out on the deck, and was subsequently confined for 5 days. 

The troops arrived in England on 20 July 1917.  Francis began training at Codford. England.  On 26th July 1917 he was charged with the offence of 'conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline creating a disturbance in Hut'.  He also hesitated to obey an order given by an NCO (non commissioned officer), and was charged with 14 days working detention. 

Francis returned to his Battalion on 1 October 1917.  On 26 October 1917 he was sent to hospital sick, returning to his Battalion on 31 October.  On the 28 November 1917 he proceeded overseas to France with 12th Infantry to reinforce the 56th Battalion, marching in on 13 December 1917. 

Christmas at the front was very cold but after living in this weather for months the weather began to improve.

On 1 June 1918 while serviing at Bussy Les Daours (the Somme) France, Frank was gassed and taken to Rouen Hospital.

The Red Cross report states, “Private F J Hunt, 56th Battalion whose number was 3648 was admitted on 4 June 1918 to No.11 Stat Hospital badly gassed and was at once put on the dangerously ill list. I saw him several times and took him the few things that he seemed to want, such as fruit etc. but he was much too ill to talk and left no message, but just panted his life away”.

On the evening of 11 June 1918 the 56th Battalion’s CO hosted a dinner at the officers’ mess at Bussy les Daours while Frank lay dying.  Finally on 12 June 1918, after days of agony, Frank died of gas poisoning.  He is buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension Rouen France. Grave No. 3775.  

His family was notified by the Matron of the hospital and his possessions returned to them. These consisted of photos, cards, 2 religious books, 1 belt, Christmas cards, 1 small spectacle case, 1 YMCA wallet, 1 leather case, 1 handkerchief, cigarette pictures, 1 metal cigarette case, 1 leather lanyard, 2 metal rings and 2 metal pencil cases.

Frank received the British War Medal and Victory Medal, the Memorial Scroll and Plaque.  Frank's brothers William and Thomas wiped their father out of their lives for giving his permission for Frank to go to war.  Frank went from living his whole life in Helensburgh until he enlisted and then he travelled overseas to Europe for the first time only to die there.  Like so many others, a very short life, Frank died aged 20 years.

Written by Mary Steenson (Mawson).

Sources: 
NAA: B2455, HUNT F J

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