No.2116 Private John Rowe Travers
John Rowe Travers was born at Bacchus Marsh in 1892, to Patrick Travers and Elizabeth Ann Rowe. They had married in Ireland in 1890, and had the following children:
- Mary Travers - born Bacchus Marsh, 1890/29292
- John Rowe Travers - born Bacchus Marsh, 1892/29075
- Annie Travers - born Werribee, 1894/33905
- Winifred Travers - born Werribee, 1897/32100
- Thomas Patrick Travers - born Werribee, 1900/15269
- Patrick Francis Travers - born Werribee, 1902/22675
- Margaret Travers - born Werribee, 1907/23059
- Denis Travers - born Werribee, 1909/23759
In 1914, John Rowe Travers was working as a labourer at Foster, in Gippsland, Victoria.
ancestry.com – Victoria 1914 Electoral Roll, 1903-1980
In the same year he married Winifred Leahy in Victoria.
Great War Index, 1914-1920 CD
They moved to Welshpool in the following year.
While John Travers was overseas, his wife Winifred lived at Thorn Street in Yarrawonga, Victoria.
On his application to enlist in the A.I.F. John Travers stated that he was single, but he produced a marriage certificate, and nominated his wife as a joint next of kin.
He was accepted into the A.I.F. on 26 September 1914, and went to the Broadmeadows Camp for initial training. That was completed on 20 December 1914, and he was appointed as a reinforcement for the 6th Battalion.
At the age of 22 years, Private John Rowe Travers embarked at Melbourne on 22 December 1914, per HMAT Thermistocles A32, with the 1st Reinforcements for the 6th Infantry Battalion.
After further training in Egypt, Private Travers sailed to Gallipoli with the 6th Battalion. On the day of the landing, he was reported as being missing in action, and didn't re-join his unit until 8 May 1915.
On 23 August 1915, John wrote a letter to his sister Mary back in Australia, in which he talked about life on the front; his sadness on having a friend killed; and his respect for the Turkish soldiers.
[A copy of a letter that he sent home to his sister Mary, from Gallipoli can be found here].
On 29 August 1915, he was admitted to the 3rd Field Ambulance on Gallipoli as being sick with diarrhoea.
He was evacuated from Gallipoli on 1 September 1915, and admitted to the 1st Stationary Hospital on Mudros Island.
In need of further treatment, he was sent to England, and was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital at Portsmouth, England on 26 September 1915.
His wife had not received a letter from him since he departed, and on 1 November 1915 she wrote to the Army, seeking his current address. She wrote to the Army again on 10 February 1916, again asking for his current address.
Between 10 May 1916 and 3 June 1916, Private Travers "Absented himself without Leave" from Abbey Wood.
After being apprehended on 7 June 1916, he was admitted to No.4 London General Hospital with V.D.
Private Travers was tried on 3 August 1916, for his crime of being absent. The charge was being absent, while stationed at Abbey Wood. *
He was found guilty and awarded 28 days of detention and the loss of 24 days pay.
After three months medical treatment, Private Travers was released from hospital on 1 September 1916, and marched-in to the camp at Perham Downs, in southern England – Total V.D. absence was 87 days.
In January 1917, Private Travers went absent without leave again. On 17 January 1917, he was declared an illegal absentee by a Board of Inquiry, held at No.1 Comm Depot at Perham Downs.
After eight months absence, he was apprehended on 8 September 1917. He was tried at a District Court Martial, found guilty, and sentenced to 18 months in detention. The file of this trial has not been released.
On 19 October 1917, Private Travers marched-out to Detention at Lewes Detention Barracks to serve his sentence. That was interrupted by him having to be admitted to hospital suffering with V.D. His treatment required 42 days, before he could return to the Lewes Detention Barracks (on 23 October 1917).
Private Travers was released from detention on 1 March 1918, and he marched-in to the Overseas Training Base (O.T.B.), to prepare for his return to the front.
After just a few days, on 5 March 1918, he absented himself without leave for six days. He returned to camp on 11 March 1918, and was admonished. Just three days later, on 13 March 1918, he again "Went Absent Without Leave" for 48 days. His unit then declared him to be "an illegal absentee."
On 30 April 1918, he was apprehended, and charged with being A.W.L. His case was heard at a District Court Martial held on 16 May 1918 He was charged with desertion and found guilty. His sentence was 18 months Hard Labour, but that was later commuted to 12 months in detention.
On 8 June 1918, Private Travers marched-in to the Lewes Detention Barracks to serve his sentence.
After the Armistice, on 3 December 1918, 163 days of his sentence were remitted, and he marched-in to the Overseas Training Base, prior to returning to his unit in France.
Just three days after being released from detention, he once again went "Absent Without Leave" - this time for 19 months.
On 21 July 1920, Private Travers was formally discharged from the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) in London, in consequence of being illegally absent from 6 December 1918.
Then on 14 October 1920, he reported back to the authorities in London.
He declined repatriation to Australia, with his last known address as 30 Princes Square, Kennington. S.E.
From October 1920 onwards, we have been unable to find further record of John Rowe Travers.
Medals and Entitlements:
- Not eligible
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: "TRAVERS, J.R."
The name "Travers, J." appeared in the first Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 22 July 1915, p.3.
It was amended to "Travers, J. R. from Werribee" in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 21 October 1915, p.3.
* Abbey Wood - Australian Intermediate Depot at Abbey Wood. - No 5 Australian Intermediate [Convalescent] Depot at Bostal Heath arriving 27 November. Bostal Heath and Abbey Wood is an area on the eastern edge of the London Borough of Greenwich between Plumstead to the west and Erith to the east. Abbey Wood takes its name from the nearby Lesnes Abbey. Australian soldiers deemed fit enough, spent time here before returning to active service. Letters home have either Abbey Wood or Bostal Heath as the address where the soldiers were stationed.
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