No.21961 Driver Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner was born in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales in 1896. He was the second eldest of six children born to Peter and Emily Gardner. By the time that war approached, the Gardner family were living in Werribee at Synott Street. Peter, a carpenter by trade, had shown a long-standing interest in the military. He had served two years as a senior cadet before transferring to C Squadron of the 29th (Port Phillip) Light Horse Regiment at Werribee, first formed in July 1912.
Peter enlisted on 1 February 1916, aged 20 and was assigned to 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade first as a gunner and then as a driver. The Brigade had been formed in Marrickville, New South Wales the month after Peter enlisted in the army. After basic training, Peter Gardner left Australia in May 1916 and arrived in Plymouth, England on 18 July of the same year. His unit was shipped to the Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire for further training. Despite an unpleasant encounter with tonsillitis which saw him hospitalised for two weeks, Peter headed to France with the 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade on 31 December 1916.
By January 1917, the brigade saw its first action at Armentieres. As the year progressed the military focus shifted from France to Belgium and the brigade saw action at the battles of Menin Road, Broodseinde and Passchendaele in September and October. In November, the brigade retired to positions at Bailleul in France, around 12 kilometres north-west of Armentieres. Clearly it had suffered during its rigours in the rain and mud of West Flanders during October. The war diary notes: "When batteries first moved into the area they had not yet recovered from the strain of the Passchendaele campaign and the general policy during the first few weeks was to give vigorous retaliation for enemy action, but not to engage in any offensive action ourselves, as a result of which the personnel might be prevented from regaining their full strength."
Rest was brief though and the 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade was ordered back into the fight on 8 November 1917 at Lys-lez-Lannoy, close to the Belgian border. There is no reference in the war diary to any action taking place at the time, but on 9 November 1917 Driver Peter Gardner was killed in action. He is buried at Trois Arbres Cemetery (Plot 2, Row B, Grave 11) at Steenwerck, France some five and a half kilometres north-west of Armentieres. For his parents, this was their second loss in just six months.
Peter’s elder brother, William John Gardner who had enlisted with the 4th Light Horse Regiment, died of wounds in France on 9 May 1917.
Medals & Entitlements:
[received by his parents]
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
- Memorial scroll and plaque
Service record citation: NAA: B2455, GARDNER PETER
Brigade war history and war diary entries - Australian War Memorial