No.2303 Lieutenant Gerald Thompson Little M.C.
Gerald Thompson Little was born in 1890, at Mambourin, to Mr David Armstrong Little and Annie Mary Hanigan. His parents had married in Victoria in 1886, and had seven children:
- Rose Helen Little - born 1888, Bacchus Marsh
- Thomas (Tom) John Little - born 1889, Reg Bacchus Marsh
- Gerald Thompson Little - born 1890, Reg Bacchus Marsh, (AIF No.2303)
- Jean Dorothea Little - born 1891, Reg Bacchus Marsh
- Leopold (Leo) Paul Little - born 1892, Reg Bacchus Marsh, (AIF No.317)
- David Little - born 1893, Reg Bacchus Marsh, (AIF No.3508)
- John Phil (Jack) Little - born 1894, Reg Bacchus Marsh
Gerald Little and his four brothers were all borders at the St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. He completed his Matriculation there, with passes in English, Arithmetic (Distinction), Algebra, Geometry, History, Physics, French and Latin. His old college has a photograph with his career highlights on their website.
After his parents married, his father held several prominent positions in local government in the west of Melbourne.
In 1885, Gerald's father was the rate collector for the Shire of Romsey, and in 1886 he took the same position with the Shire of Bacchus Marsh. He then became the hydraulic engineer to the Bacchus Marsh Water Trust and the Secretary/Engineer for the Melton Shire. After 27 years with the Bacchus March Shire Council, he moved to Werribee in 1913, and took over the position of secretary. He retained that post until his death in 1926.
In 1914, Gerald Little was presented with a gold medal by the Werribee Football Club, for being the champion all-round player of the season.
Werribee Shire Banner, 15 October 1914, p.2.
Prior to enlisting, Gerald was living in Sydney, and working as a surveyor. His qualifications included: Licenced Surveyor under the Transfer of Land Act; Certificate of Competency as a surveyor under the Transfer of Land Act; Certificate of Competency as a surveyor and engineer under the Local Government Act; and, a Certificate of Qualification as a Municipal Clerk under the Local Government Act.
Gerald Thompson Little enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) at Werribee on 13 July 1915, and he then relocated to Sydney. After completing his initial training on 5 November 1915, he was appointed as a Sapper to the 11th Reinforcements for the 2nd Field Company Engineers, at their depot in Moore Park, Sydney.
Just four days later, Sapper Gerald Thompson Little embarked at Sydney per HMAT Beltana A72 on 9 November 1915, with the 2nd Field Company Engineers (F.C.E.), 11th reinforcements.
On 28 December 1915, Sapper Gerald Little joined his unit, the 2nd Field Coy Engineers at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt. He was one of a party of one Officer and 103 Other Ranks that were taken on strength from the 9th and 11th Reinforcements. Accommodation at the camp was scarce, as the unit had just arrived back from Gallipoli on the same evening.
Most of January 1916 was spent on building works around the camp, before they relocated to Serapeum on the Suez Canal. Here they undertook construction works on No 54 to 58 Posts on the Forward Line of Defence.
On 9 March 1916, two Officers and 65 Other Ranks were transferred to the Engineer Coys of several other Australian Divisions that were then being formed. Gerald Little was transferred to the 5th Division Engineers at Serapeum, before they relocated to Zeitoun.
The 12th Field Company Engineers was formed at Tel-el-Kebir on 5 March 1916.
[A group portrait of the Officers of 12th Field Company Engineers is reproduced on this page courtesy of the Australian War Memorial with the following description:
Argeuvillers, France. Group portrait of officers of 12th Field Company Engineers, 4th Australian Division. Back row, left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) Keith Aird Fraser; Lt Baldwin; Lt Gerald Thompson Little; Lt Gordon Samuel Keesing. Front row: Lt Norman Henry Cooper; Major Consett Carre Ridddell; Captain Howard George Tolley.]
On 17 March 1916, Sapper Gerald Little arrived, along with 154 other Engineer Reinforcements, from the Base Detail Camp at Zeitoun. Once they had achieved full strength, and received their equipment, the 12th Field Company moved back to Serapeum where they constructed defences. Gerald Little was then promoted to Temporary Sergeant.
On 7 April 1916, the Inner Defences at Serapeum were completed, and they were handed over from the 12th to the 13th Field Coy Engineers (13th F.C.). A/Sergeant Little was also transferred to the 13th Field Coy Engineers, and appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant on 7 April 1916. His Company were engaged on Bridge Head Defences, and building pontoons and roads around the Suez Canal.
In the middle of May 1916, the 13th Field Coy took over the working of the Pontoon Bridge across the Canal, and also the operation and maintenance of the local light railway. Then at the end of the month, 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Little was seconded for duty with the local Engineer Training Depot.
The company began preparations to depart from Egypt at the beginning of June 1916. All of the men's kits were inspected to make sure they were complete, and that they didn't have any cameras with them. Then, on 6 June 1916, the majority of the 13th Field Coy Engineers (with 2nd Lieutenant Little) embarked at Alexandria per S.S. Oriana, to join the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) in France.
After a voyage of about six days, they disembarked at Marseilles, and entrained to Ballieul. From there they moved to their first base at Bac St. Maur, where they took over a section of the front line, between 23 and 29 June 1916.
During early July 1916, the 13th Field Company were employed in construction and fortification of new trenches at Bac St. Maur. On 9 July, Lieutenant Little was transferred to the 4th Australian Divisional Base, and from there he went to the Engineers Training Depot in Christchurch, England. It was a joint Australian and New Zealand camp that conducted nine week training courses for engineers, and was known as the Jumper's Road Camp.
After completing his course, Lieutenant Gerald Little returned to duty in France at the end of October 1916. He was appointed to the 12th Field Coy Engineers, who at that time were relocating from Ypres to Bernafay Wood. Lieutenant Little would remain with them for the remained of his military career.
Between the end of 1916 and May 1917, the 12th Field Coy Engineers worked at various locations in France, including Longueval, Vignacourt, Bull's Trench (alongside Fleurs village), Lavieville and Abbeville.
On 10 April 1917, Lieutenant Little was working with the No.1 and No.2 Sections on repairing a road at Norevil, when he and his Sergeant were both wounded. He was struck by a piece of High Explosive (H.E.) shrapnel on his right buttock. (First wounding) After initial treatment by the 9th Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.) and the 56th C.C.S., he was moved to the 8th General Hospital at Rouen on 13 April 1917. In need of further treatment, he was evacuated to England on 16 April 1917, and admitted to the 4th London General Hospital (L.G.H.), arriving there on 17 April 1917. According to his medical file, his wound healed quite well, and he suffered no pain or inconvenience.
Lieutenant Little was discharged from hospital on 24 May 1917, and marched-in to the No.1 Commonwealth Depot Details Camp at Perham Downs in southern England. That was an establishment for receiving troops, fit enough to go to their units at the front. From there, it took almost a month before he was able to re-join the 12th Field Coy Engineers, who were then constructing huts and preparing a camp for the 2nd ANZAC Corps H.Q. at Fletre, and repairing the road between Touquet Berthe Farm and Keeper’s Hut.
During August and September 1917, the company were occupied in constructing and repairing trenches in Bob Street, Manchester Street, two Front Lines and the Subsidiary Line around Steenwerck in French Flanders.
On 2 October 1917, Lieutenant Little was supervising the construction of Corduroy Road at Ypres in Flanders, when he suffered a wound to his back from a H.E. Shell. (second wounding) He was initially treated by the 10th Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.), and on the following day he was admitted to 14th General Hospital at Boulogne. They referred him back to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth in England, where he was admitted on 5 October 1917.
After three months of treatment and convalescence, he was discharged to the Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverill on 6 December 1917, and he was able to embarked for France two weeks later.
Lieutenant Little re-joined the 12th Field Coy on 24 December 1917. They were based around Allaines and the Canal du Nord in northern France.
During January and February 1918, the company were employed on trench works at 'Corp's Second Line' near Dessart Wood, at 'Reserve Line' near Ypres, at Hill 60, at Image Avenue, Imperial Avenue, Index House and Support Walk.
In March 1918, the company moved to billets at Watts Lines near De Seule, where they were employed building bath houses and drying rooms at Bailleul. Then at the end of the month they re-located to Senlis to construct headquarters for the 12th Australian Infantry Brigade and the 10th Australian Artillery Brigade.
On 5 April 1918, Lieutenant Little and 20 Other Ranks from No.4 Section were engaged in wiring of the Support Line (on the Somme) when they were hit by a H.E. shell. Two Sappers were killed instantly, and Lieutenant Little and another Sapper were wounded. Gerald Little sustained a G.S.W. to his right leg (third wounding), necessitating an amputation on the same day. He was initially treated by the 4th Australian Field Ambulance (who performed the first amputation), and on the following day, he was admitted to the 20th General Hospital at Camiers, France.
Ten days after being wounded, Lieutenant Little was evacuated to England per Hospital Ship, Princes Elizabeth, where he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth. On the same day, the Little family were advised by letter (dated 16 April 1918), that their son had been admitted to the 20th General Hosptal in France, suffering with a severe GSW to his right leg.
Gerald Little cabled his family stating "doing splendidly, right foot amputated."
Melton Express, 18 May 1918, p.3.
While Lieutenant Little's condition initially improved and he was able to move about on crutches, his wound then 'flared up', and he had to return to bed. He then underwent a second amputation at the 3rd London General Hospital, on Friday 21 April 1918.
On 2 May 1918, Lieutenant Gerald Little was Awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He volunteered to assist in laying out trenches directly under the enemy's fire, and made especially dangerous reconnaissance's in daylight to inspect them. Later, when the line was attacked by overwhelming numbers, he collected some working parties and details, and organised them for defence as a support line, displaying throughout the greatest courage and resource, and setting a magnificent example to all Ranks."
The Little family received another letter from the Defence Department on 3 May 1918, to advise them that their son had been admitted to London General Hospital, suffering with a GSW and an amputated right leg. They received a follow up letter on 11 May 1918, advising that their son was now progressing favourably.
After three months treatment and convalescence, on 31 July 1918, it was decided that he would be invalided to Australia, and Struck off Strength (S.O.S.)
Lieutenant Little then embarked for Australia per H.T. Karoola on 3 August 1918, and disembarked at Melbourne on 4 September 1918.
His Appointment with the A.I.F. was subsequently terminated at the 3rd Military District on 7 April 1919.
A report appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner, 12 September 1918, p.2, in which congratulatory messages were sent from General Sir H S Rawlinson, Commander of the Fourth Army, and from General Birdwood, Australian Corps, B.E.F. in France. Men formerly under his command, also sent him an engraved watch, with best wishes for the future.
Gerald and his brother Leo Little were both presented with Gold Medals from the Shire of Werribee at a Welcome Home ceremony held in the Werribee Mechanics Institute on the 22 January 1919. The newspaper report noted that they were two of Shire Secretary Mr D A Little's four sons who had answered the call of the Empire.
Werribee Shire Banner, 23 January 1919, p.2.
Gerard Little applied for the position of engineer to the Ballarat Town Council, but was rejected by a vote of councillors (5-4). A public meeting was then held, which urged the council to readvertise the position, and that they give priority to returned soldiers. Werribee Shire Banner, 1 May 1919, p.3. The report also listed all of the qualifications held by Gerard.
By the end of 1919, Gerald Little had become the Acting Shire Secretary for the Shire of Werribee. Werribee Shire Banner, 13 November 1919, p.2.
At a meeting of the Werribee Shire Council on 26 March 1920, the Acting Shire Engineer, Mr G. T. Little reported that “(2) Unveiling of the Soldier’s memorial and Honor Board – Both memorials are now complete, and the date of unveiling is desired.” Werribee Shire Banner, 1 April 1920, p.4.
Gerald married Kathleen Annie McCormack in Victoria in 1921.
At an examination for Municipal Auditors in the State of Victoria, held in 1922, Mr Gerald T Little, C.E.L.S. was the only candidate passed by the Board of Examiners.
Werribee Shire Banner, 17 August 1922, p.2.
Gerald Little passed the final subjects in in the Commonwealth Institute of Accountants exam, and was appointed a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria for taking declarations. Werribee Shire Banner, 8 March 1923, p.2.
In 1926, Gerald's father, David Armstrong Little, died at Werribee, and a new Shire Secretary (Mr G. P. Muirhead) was appointed. Although he was the acting Shire Secretary at the time, Gerald Little didn't apply for the position, however he was appointed as a Consulting Engineer, a position he held for fifteen years.
Werribee Shire Banner, 3 June 1926, p.2.
The death notice and obituary for Gerald Little's father, Mr D.A. Little J.P., recorded information on his surviving children. They were:
- Rose Helen (Mrs O'Connell, Sydney),
- Rev. Fr. Thomas J Little, P.P. (Fern Tree Gully),
- Gerald, C.E.L.S. (Little and Brosnan),
- Jean (Mrs R. A. Manly, Werribee),
- Leo, Barrister (Selborne Chambers),
- David (District Engineer, P.M.G.'s department, Sydney),
- John, M.N., B.S. (resident superintendent, St Vincents Hospital, Melbourne).
The Little family appear to have relocated to the Essendon area in 1927. In that year Gerald bought an 'up-to-date commodious villa' in Leonard Road, Essendon.
Werribee Shire Banner, 31 March 1927, p.5.
That conflicts with the Victorian Electoral Rolls, which states that they were living nearby at Leslie Road, Moonee Ponds. This appears to have been the family home, for the duration of current records.
There was a strong campaign in 1930 to construct a new dam on the Werribee River near the Cobbledicks Ford area. It was proposed by the then Premier of Victoria, and supported by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission. Gerald Little, in his capacity as consultant engineer to the Werribee Shire Council supported the proposal, and calculated that there was sufficient water flow in the river to justify its construction.
Werribee Shire Banner, 20 February 1930, p.3.
The scheme, which was later known as the Cobbledick's Weir Scheme was eventually abandoned because of escalating costs.
While returning to the Council Chambers from a luncheon at Canny’s Hotel on 11 April 1935, Gerald was with a party of councillors that were struck by a truck in Station Street. Along with Cr McMurray, he was knocked to the ground and sustained an injury to his head. Two other councillors escaped injury by leaping out of the way.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 April 1935, p.5.
In 1935, because of pressure of work, Gerald asked to be relieved of his duties as werribee Shire Treasurer.
Werribee Shire Banner, 26 September 1935, p.4.
In 1941, after fifteen years of working with the Werribee Shire Council, Gerald Little resigned his position as consulting engineer, and accepted "...a similar position with the Prahran City Council". The report in the newspaper stated that he had received much criticism from residents over the years, as they were not aware that he didn’t hold a full time position. Despite that, he had worked double the required hours, for no additional pay. At the same meeting of council, when he announced his resignation, the councillors next item of business was to now make the position of Council Engineer, a full time position.
Werribee Shire Banner, 17 April 1941, p.2.
Gerald and Kathleen took a three-month holiday in England during the summer of 1950, staying at Charing Cross in London. They returned home on the P.& O. Strathnaver, after departing England on 26 October 1950. (Ancestry.com)
Gerald Little retained links to the Werribee Shire, and in 1952 he presented a plan with costings to the Werribee Shire Council, to provide the township of Little River with a town water supply. It is not recorded if the plan was accepted.
Werribee Shire Banner, 16 October 1952, p.1.
In 1955, the Little family were still living at 30 Leslie Road in Essendon, when it was announced that their eldest son, Dr John Little, had become engaged.
The Argus, 9 July 1955, p.10.
At the age of 82 years, Gerald Thompson Little died on 17 December 1972, in the Mercy Hospital, Victoria. He was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery.
Medals and Entitlements:
- Military Cross
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
His name appears on the Werribee Shire Roll of Honour Board as "Little, G.T."
His name appeared "Little, G. A." (wrong second initial) in the Roll of Honor, published in the Werribee Shire Banner, between 22 July 1915 and 6 March 1919.
Gerald Little and his family lived at 56-58 Wattle Avenue Werribee. His former house and grounds are now covered by a local Heritage Overlay (HO103) by the Wyndham City Council.
Gerald Little’s other achievements include:
- In 1935 he was a member of a council sub-committee to improve living conditions for southern European agricultural workers in Werribee South. Werribee Shire Banner, 18 April 1935, p.5.
- In 1936 he formulated a plan to bitumenise the main streets in central Werribee. Werribee Shire Banner, 17 December 1936, p.1.
- In 1945 he was appointed as President of the Victorian Institute of Surveyors. Werribee Shire Banner, 17 May 1945, p.2.
- He was the consulting engineer to the Shire of Melton. Werribee Shire Banner, 22 August 1946, p.6.
- He was involved in the laying down of the original green at the Werribee Lawn Bowls Club. Werribee Shire Banner, 24 October 1946, p.5.
Gerald Thompson Little M.C. has a tree planted in his name in the Bacchus Marsh Avenue of Honour.
Gerald and Kathleen Little's son Thomas grew up to be Sir Thomas Francis "Frank" Little, K.B.E., and 6th Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. He did his seminary years at the Corpus Christi College at Werribee.
Heritage of the City of Wyndham, Vol 2, Context P/L, dated 1997, page 348.
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