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No Man’s Land – “Fromelles” – Patrick Lindsay

January 15th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Anzac, Australian, Australiana, History, War, WW1

In one remarkable attempt to reach safety, a group of eleven men of the 8th Brigade, under the leadership of Captain Frank Krinks, decided to make a run for it as a group, vowing to stay and help any of their number who found trouble. Having decided to leave their weapons and rely on a surprise dash to safety, they struck trouble in the second German trench when two of them were captured. But, as they had promised, the others turned on the captors and frightened the stunned Germans into releasing them. They then bolted into no-man’s land. Krinks and three companions eventually reached safety in the front of the British trenches. But, as Bean noted, there was a tragic sequel:

‘The 30th Battalion was immediately after the fight sent to reserve, but Krinks and his three companions returned to the trenches as soon as it was dusk, and, taking a stretcher, went out into no-man’s land bringing in Wells on a stretcher when a sentry of their own brigade catching sight of the figures, fired, killing Wishart and Watts with a single shot.’

Tags: Australian History··military··

  • Susan Bradshaw

    One hundred years ago to-day L/Cpl. S.B. Wells remained throughout the day entangled in wire with a gunshot wound in no man’s land on the battlefield of Fromelles. He was not abandoned by his mates. At dusk four courageous men returned to the bloody field with a stretcher, found him, disentangled him and brought him back to safety. For two of those men, Tommy Watts, a lad of just 19, and John Wishart this act of love and sacrifice was their last living emotion. A sentry from their own brigade doing his duty as a soldier mistook these running figures for advancing enemy, aimed his rifle and with accuracy shot and killed both rear stretcher bearers with the one bullet.
    L/Cpl Wells lived – fought and survived two more woundings before being sent back to Australia unfit to fight on. He was a quiet gentleman who fought for the welfare of his fellow diggers for the remainder of his life and helped form the Wollongong NSW branch of the original “Servicemen’s League”.
    Sydney Bryden Wells’ life was not a long one and he suffered from the effects of his wounds and the poisoning of his lungs by the mustard gas these WW1. diggers were exposed to, however his family of Gt. Nephews and Nieces are eternally grateful to those four heroes and thank them for saving his life. The memory of Thomas Langford Watts and John Wishart will remain sacred to our family and remain in our family annals forever.