No.22350 Shoeing-smith Corporal Benjamin Jennings Marshall
Benjamin Jennings Marshall (Jnr) was born at Fitzroy in 1888 to Benjamin Jennings Marshall (Snr) and Margaret Herbert. They had married in Victoria in 1878, and only had one child.
Between leaving school and enlisting in the A.I.F, Benjamin Marshall worked as a Blacksmith / Farrier.
The 1909 Electoral Roll shows him working at Lubeck in the Wimmera area of Victoria. Then in 1913 he had moved to the Metropolitan Farm at Werribee where he continued working as a blacksmith until he enlisted in the A.I.F.
Benjamin Jennings Marshall swore his oath at Melbourne on 26 January 1916 and was sent to the Military Reinforcement Depot at Maribyrnong for initial training. This was completed on 15 May 1916, and he was appointed as a Gunner with the 23rd Howitzer Brigade. [3rd Division Artillery, a subunit was the 23rd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade. February 1916 to 6 January 1917.]
On the following day he was appointed as a Corporal (Shoe-smith).
[His role as a farrier was important as he was involved in the care of the horses, which moved the heavy artillery and ammunition wagons at the font lines.]
Five days later he embarked at Melbourne on 20 May 1916 with the 23rd Howitzer Brigade's 109th Battery, per HMAT Medic A7, and sailed for England. They disembarked at Plymouth on 18 July 1916 and moved to Larkhill where they began Gunnery and Signalling courses. From War Diary of Headquarters, 3rd Australian Divisional Artillery – July 1916.
On 31 December 1916, after six months training, he left Larkhill with the 23rd Field Artillery Battery and proceed to France, via Southampton.
On 6 January 1917, Corporal Marshall was taken on strength with the 7th Field Artillery Brigade’s (F.A.B.) 27th Battery * at Strazeele, ex the 23rd F.A.B. (which ceased to exist from that date).
[Reorganisation of the Australian Divisional Artillery resulted in; 2 Brigades with 4-6 gun batteries; the existing 27th Battery was divided, a section being attached to 25th and 26th Batteries. The 36th Battery of the 23rd Brigade was transferred and became the 27th Battery. A section of the 109th Battery from the 9th Brigade was transferred and attached to the 107th Battery] **
After the reorganisation was completed, the 27th Battery relocated to the Armentieres area.
During 1917, the 27th Battery saw action at Armentieres, Ploegsteert, Desvres, The Battle of Messines in June 1917, Neuve Eglise, Messines, Dickebusch, Hill 40, Ypres (October 1917), Passchendaele, Vlamertinghe, Bailleul, Lys, Le Bizet, and back to La Chapelle D’Armentieres.
At the end of January 1918, Corporal Marshall was granted two weeks leave in England, to have a break from the harsh conditions at the front. When he returned in February 1918, the 27th Battery were positioned near Lys. They were following a policy of engaging the enemy whenever they were seen, and sending harassing fire on their roads and trench mortar positions.
During March and April 1918, the Battery was operating at Ploegsteert, until they were relieved on 12 March 1918. They went back into the line at Coullemont on 27 March 1918, and covered the front between Ribemont and Sailly-le-Sec, where 'open warfare' (as opposed to trenches) conditions prevailed. Firing Battery wagons remained alongside their guns. No ammunition dumps were made, and Battery Wagon Lines were in close proximity. This was the Brigade's first experience in the Somme district, and the hilly conditions were a great relief after the flat plains of the Flanders area.
On the morning of 1 April 1918, the Brigade headquarters at the Brick Works was heavily shelled by the enemy. The Commanding Officer, the Adjutant and the Orderly Officer were all killed. This meant that the 7th Field Artillery Brigade was temporarily merged with the 8th Australian Field Artillery Brigade. Their main targets were then destruction of bridges over the Ancre and Somme Rivers.
The Unit War Diary entry for 21 April 1918 noted that 12 enemy planes had crossed their lines in the evening, and that they had shot down "...a Red Triplane flown by Baron Richtofne.” ***
On 24 April 1918, they were subject to a very heavy bombardment of gas and high explosives, along their whole front line (south of the Somme and at Villers Brettoneux). The Brigade Headquarters was again heavily shelled, causing the deaths of four officers and sixteen signallers. Their Commanding Officer was evacuated after being gassed and command of both Brigades was again temporarily merged, until they were relieved from the line on 26 April 1918.
Just prior to the Brigade going back into the line at Franvillers, Corporal Marshall was sent to the Corp’s Machine Gun School for one week, between 13 and 20 May 1918. After he returned, the 3rd Australian Division Artillery at Cocquerel were ordered to relieve the 4th Australian Division Artillery on 2 June 1918 in the Villers Brettoneux Sector. They remained there for all of June and July 1918, and worked closely with the 37th French Divisional Artillery.
On 4 July 1918, they supported an attack by the 4th, 11th and 15th A.I.F. Brigades when they attacked on a frontage of 7,000 yards between the Somme and Villers Bretettoneux, capturing Hamel, Vaire and Hamel Woods. A week later Monument Wood was also captured.
August 1918 saw a heavy offensive action against the enemy. From 1 to 7 August 1918, everything was prepared for a large attack. Ammunition was in place, and wagon lines had been moved up close to Hamelet. On 8 and 9 August, the attack took place along a front from Ancre to Avre. Ranks and Infantry penetrated the enemy lines, under the cover of a protective artillery barrage. Between 22 and 31 August 1918, a number of successful attacks and advances occurred and the enemy’s resistance was broken. During all of these attacks, the 7th F.A. Brigade was acting in close support to the Infantry, covering the advances with creeping barrages and engaging opportunity targets. Quoting from the Unit War Diary "August 1918 will long be remembered as the greatest month in the history of the Australian Corps, when its five Divisions combined to reap the full results of all the hard and wearisome fighting astride the Somme since April."
During the first half of September1918, the Brigade was in reserve. After 15 September 1918, they were involved in heavy attacks on the Hindenburg Outpost Line. After an attack by American troops and the subsequent penetration of the Hindenburg Line by the 3rd Australian Division, the Unit War Diary noted that "The long period of open warfare was beginning to tell on men and horses alike, and towards the end of the month, after practically four months of fighting, a good rest was badly needed."
By 5 October 1918, the Hindenburg Line had been penetrated in the vicinity of the Saint Quentin Canal Tunnel, and a general advance was being made into fresh country. Conditions improved generally for the men and their horses, except that good water for the horses was hard to obtain. This caused their condition to suffer accordingly. The advance continued smoothly until 24 October 1918, when the enemy had fallen back to a line on the Sambre et Oise Canal
By 6 November 1918, the enemy had been defeated at the Sambre et Oiss Canal, and the Brigade withdrew to Montbrehain to rest. The Unit War Diary entry of 11 November 1918 was very low key. It simply noted that "To-day the Armistice was signed."
Corporal Marshall took a fortnight’s leave in England between 27 January 1919 and 16 February 1919, and returned to the 7th Field Artillery Brigade at Hautmont in France. Sports and training programs continued to occupy the men's time, and preparations were being made to sell some of the unit's horses in the Square at Hautmont.
Two months later, on 16 April 1919, Corporal Marshall marched out of 7th F.A.B. at Lobbes to the Australian Base Depot at Havre, to begin his return to Australia. While there he was classified as "1916 Personnel", which entitled him to a priority return to Australia. Three days later he disembarked at the port of Southampton, and marched in to the Sutton Veny Camp in England.
On 5 June 1919, Corporal Marshall embarked from England per S.S. Mahia for his return to Australia. His ship disembarked at Melbourne on 17 July 1919 and he was subsequently discharged from the A.I.F. through the 3rd Military District at Melbourne on 31 August 1919.
The Victorian Electoral Rolls show that Benjamin Marshall then returned to his former blacksmith job at the Metropolitan Farm in Werribee in 1919.
In October 1919, the Metropolitan Farm Welcome Home Society held a grand Ball in honour of nine soldiers who had recently returned from the front. A total of 25 men had volunteered from the Farm, and only 20 returned. Those honoured on this occasion were – Private D McMillan, Private Brown [or Browne], Private McCrindle, Private C W Jones, Private [?] Carter, Private B Marshall, Private F Murphey, Private M Hallinan and Private E J West. [Special mention was also made of the heroes who failed to return – No.2649 Private Charles Guest, No.2741 Private John Ross, No.5671 Private Harry Delaney, No.1777 Private Edward Delaney and No.5749 Corporal Andrew Rowan].
Werribee Shire Banner, 9 October 1919, p.2.
At a presentation ceremony in the Mechanic's Hall at Werribee in December 1919, former Corporal B J Marshall of the 27th Battery was one of a number of local men who were presented with a Werribee Shire Gold Medal.
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 December 1919, p.2.
His actual Military Service Medals were subsequently delivered to his home at 27 Synnott Street, Werribee.
Benjamin Marshall married Catherine West in 1920, [Victorian Marriage Certificate 5670/1920] and they moved in to a house in Synott Street Werribee. He then took over a blacksmith business in Watton Street, Werribee, and first advertised it in the Werribee Shire Banner, 16 September 1920, p.3. After operating there until 1928, he sold up and then returned to work on the Metropolitan Farm at Werribee.
Benjamin Marshall was killed in an accident on 24 July 1942. He was riding his bicycle along the Geelong Road at about 7.30 p.m. when he was struck by a car. He was accorded a Military Funeral and was interned in the Werribee Cemetery on 26 July 1942. Left to mourn him was his wife Catherine, and members of his family – David, Max, Dorothy, Alan, Margaret William and Mavis. A report of his death and funeral appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner, 30 July 1942, p.2. and
The Age, 27 July 1942, p.6.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: "Marshall, B"
The name "Marshall B." of the Metropolitan Farm first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 24 February 1916, p.1.
Other Werribee men who served in the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade (F.A.B.) were:
** War Diary of Headquarters, 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade – January 1917.
*** German pilot Baron Von Richthofen, a.k.a. the Red Baron.
Unit War Diary
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