Edward Ernest Hyde (Service No. 1306)
(1894 - 1983)

Edward Ernest Hyde was born on 18 March 1894 to Alfred William Hyde and Elizabeth Ann Hyde (nee Armstrong). Edward Hyde was the fifth child born to Alfred and Elizabeth who had moved to Laverton, from Williamstown around 1913. Like his elder brother, Albert Victor Hyde, Ernest had spent twelve months within the Naval Reserve, in Williamstown, but ceased when the family moved to Jamison Street, Laverton as they had an exemption from attending due to the distance from Laverton to Williamstown.

When war broke out, Edward followed his elder brother’s lead and decided to enlist (1915) but the strictness of the early medical examination saw Edward rejected due to a dental issue. This did not deter Edward who re-enlisted on 15 January 1916 and either due to his dental issue being resolved or because the need for men required a relaxation of the enlistment requirements. On this occasion, Edward was accepted.

At the time of his latest enlistment, Edward was just two months short of his 22nd birthday and was working as a fitter’s labourer at the Altona coal mines located at the western end of Altona near to what is today known as Harrington Square. He was assigned to the 39th Battalion that was formed on 21 February 1916 at the Ballarat Showgrounds as an infantry battalion and he was given the rank of private.

The battalion drew most of its recruits from the Western District of Victoria. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Rankine the battalion was raised as part of an expansion of the 1st Australian Imperial Forces that took place at the conclusion of the Gallipoli campaign.

Private Edward Hyde and his new battalion completed their three months of basic training, following which they travelled to and marched through Melbourne on 15 May as the city farewelled the men of this unit.  They subsequently embarked aboard HMAT Ascanius A11 on 27 May 1916 bound for England. They sailed via Cape Town on then onto Plymouth where they landed on 18 July 1916 and immediately moved, by train, to Amesbury in Wiltshire in preparation for their transfer to France.

Prior to their transfer to France, in late November 1916, Edward Hyde was admitted to Fargo Military Hospital Wiltshire for observation (reason unknown) and was discharged on 16 December 1916.   Four days later Edward proceeded overseas to France, from Folkstone Kent aboard the Princess Victoria, and then proceed to join the 39th Battalion who were now operating in the trenches along the front relieving their sister battalion, the 37th Battalion, around the town of Houplines in the Armentieres sector of Northern France.

The 39th Battalion endured a long miserable winter in Flanders operating in mainly a defensive role before they saw their first major engagement at Messines within the Belgium province of West Flanders beginning on 7 June 1917. It was during the battalion’s march to the front that they suffered heavy losses from a German gas bombardment. This resulted in less than a third of the men (120) reaching the front near Ploegsteert Corner.

Despite this the 39th was quickly reorganised into a single wave and attacked on the 10th Brigade’s right subsequently overcoming the initial German opposition facing them. It was on the first day of this battle that Private Edward Hyde was wounded sustaining injuries to both his arm and leg and was evacuated back to the No 56 General Hospital at Etaples for treatment.

Two weeks later Private Edward Hyde was moved to the Australian Convalescent Camp in Rouelles near Le Havre.  Following his recovery, he returned to his battalion on 8 October 1918. The 39th Battalion, at this stage, were still fighting at the front in Belgium.  However, just four days later, during the battle at Broodseinde, Private Edward Hyde was wounded for a second time sustaining an injury to his right shoulder.

Private Hyde was this time admitted to the No 2 Australian General Hospital in Wimereux near Boulogne. On 25 January 1918 he was transferred back to England to Command Depot No.2 in Weymouth, Dorset which accommodated those men not expected to be fit for duty within six months. There he was diagnosed with Disordered Action of the Heart (DAH) a condition characterised by exhaustion inability to sleep, breathlessness and heart palpitations.  He remained there until 26 June 1918 when he had been recovered sufficiently to be returned once again to his battalion in Belgium.

Private Hyde re-joined his battalion on 10 July 1918 who were still on the front in Belgium and were now positioned at Amiens involved in the defensive action at the Somme. However, a fortnight later Edward Hyde was re admitted to hospital suffering from a recurrence of the same condition.  In October 1918 he again returned to his battalion only to be sent back to hospital, 18 days later, this time to No 3 Australian General Hospital in Abberville France still suffering from DAH.

He remained hospitalised until January 1919 when he left France and was transferred back in England arriving in Southampton on 14 January. On 9 February 1919 Private Edward Hyde embarked on his journey back to Australia on HMAT Ascanius A11 arriving back in Melbourne on 3 April 1919. Private Edward Hyde attended a welcome home function at the Laverton school on the 14 October 1919 where he and other returned soldiers were presented with a medal, on behalf of the Werribee Shire, by Mr John Lister MHR for Corio.

Edward Hyde moved back to Laverton and looked to resume life and work as a fitter’s labourer. The coal mines in the Altona area were, by this time, beginning to go into decline as the coal mines in the Morwell area opening and were established as the priority source of coal to produce electricity. Edward sought and gained work with the Victoria Railways in the early 1920’s.

In October 1923 he married Catherine Sarah Walters and they settled in Epsom Street Laverton. A year later their first child, Ruby, was born and not many years later their second child John was born. As part of his employment with Victorian Railways, Edward and Catherine were required to move to country Victoria and by 1928 they were living in Cavendish.

The family continued to work and live within various Victorian towns such as Strathmerton and Kyabram. Tragedy struck the family on New Year’s Day 1947 when Catherine passed away just short of her 49th birthday. The family were living in the town of Kyabram.

In 1949 tragedy again struck the family when Edward’s daughter, Ruby, who had only been married a little over three years and had a two-year daughter died in an accident at her home at Girgarre, just south of Kyabram.

Edward remained with the Victorian Railways and continued to move around Victoria’s rural towns until he finally settled in Kangaroo Flat, just outside of Bendigo in the early 1960’s. By this time, he had remarried to Edith Maude Hyde. In the early 1960’s but Edith passed away around the mid 1970’s.  Edward remained living in the Bendigo area until he passed away in November 1983, at the age of 89, and is interred within the Box Hill cemetery (in an unmarked grave) alongside his first wife Catherine Sarah.


  1. ancestry.com.au
  2. https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=148654
  3. https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=6928595
  4. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51479
  5. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1338977
  6. https://39battalion.com/history/39th-bn-in-ww1/?doing_wp_cron=1553211400.6886000633239746093750
  7. Werribee Shire Banner, Honor Roll, 12 August 1915, p. 3
  8. Image: Courtesy: awm.gov.au/collection/C54485

Research by: Graeme Reilly (ALHS)