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Date of birth:1897
Place of birth:
, Australia37° 43' 59.7144" S, 142° 2' 27.7224" E
24th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
Decorations and medallions:1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
John Beckett was one month off 28 years old when he enlisted on 21 December, 1915. He was then single and a painter by trade, living at 53 Gipps St., East Melbourne. He had been working for the last five years at W. Smith in Hamilton before moving to Melbourne. He later changed his next of kin to his wife, Maude May Beckett, living at 43 Green St., in Richmond, Victoria. He went straight into training at Royal Park, Melbourne, first with A Company, 23rd (Depot) Battalion, then with the 24th Depot Battalion. From Royal Park, he boarded the HMAT 'Wiltshire' A 18 for England, leaving Melbourne on 7 March, 1916, for Egypt.
Once at Abassia, he was attached to the Anzac Prov. Corps at Abassia, serving for three months from 3 April- 22 July, when he was admitted to the Dermatolgical Hospital with veneral disease. He remained in hospital for ten days. On 3 August, he embarked for England on the 'Tunisia'. On 30 August, he went disappeared for a day and was apprehended by the military police, being charged with being AWL and with being improperly dresses. He was given 160 hours detention and forfeited 7 days pay.
John Beckett was sent to France on 10 October, 1916,landing at Etaples before being taken on strength with his battalion on 4 November. The 24th Battalion had had a hard war: on 4 September, 1915, they had gone ashore at Gallipoli and spent the next 16 weeks fighting at lone pine, alternating on a daily basis with the 23rd Battalion becuase the conditions were so hard. In March, 1916, they were transferred to France, and in July-August fought at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. They had little respite in the hard winter of 1916-17, serving alternately at the front and on labouring tasks. It was perhaps as a result of theses labouring tasks that John Beckett was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance Station with a ricked back on 17 November. He returned to his battalion on 21 November, but on 8 December, was taken to hospital with with bronchitis and discheged again on 20 December.He rejoined his unit on 21 December, but was readmitted to the 2nd Field Ambulance Hospital iwth mumps on 13 February, 1917. Again, discharged to duty, he rejoined his unit on 6 March, 1917. In April, he was again ill, this time with severe pneumonia, and transferred to the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne. On 14 April, he was put on the hospital ship 'St. Patrick' and returned to England on 18th April to be admitted to the Military Hospital at Herne Bay. He was assessed as suffering from chronic pleurisy, with 'TB' written on his medical report.
John Beckett was by now recognised as being unable to fight at the front. On release from hospital, he was granted leave, before reporting to the No. 5 Auxiliary Hospital on 25 June, 1917. He was lucky: on 3 May, the 24th Battalion had fought in the 2nd battle of Bullecourt, suffering 80% casualties. From here, it was decided to discherge him from service: the severe pleurisy was identified as tuberculosis, so he was returned to Australia and discharged form further service on 24 January, 1918.
John Beckett was awarded a pension of 60/- per fortnight, while his wife Maude May wasc given 30/- per fortnight. He returned with his wife to Hamilton, where he had been born, living at 13 Brees Rd., South Hamilton until 1954 and again working as a painter. By the 1970s, he was back in Melbourne, living at 30 Milleara Rd., Keilor with his wife, Rosina Joy. He was still alive and working in 1980.
Australian National Archives, Service Records
Australian War Memorial, Embarkation Roll, Unit Histories
Ancestry.com, Voter Rolls
Mapping our Anzacs, Hamilton enlistments