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australian rowers profiles and history

Albert N Anderson

Barwon Rowing Club (VIC)

Albert Naples Anderson was born in Dean, near Ballarat on 13 December, 1885. His father, who was M.L.A. for Ballarat, died when he was aged 13. When he enlisted he was 29 years old, single, 5' 11' and 11st 8 lbs. He had attended Geelong College and was an accountant at J.C. Brown and Co.'s engineering works. He had seen previous service in the 29th Light Horse, Port Phillip Regiment, C Squadron. He joined Barwon Rowing Club in 1912 and the same year rowed stroke in the Barwon crew at the Henley on Yarra Regatta.

He enlisted on Christmas Eve, 1914 in the 8th Light Horse, was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 15 January 1915 and embarked from Melbourne on 12 February 1915.

Albert landed at Gallipoli on 16 May and took part in the Light Horse charge at The Nek in August.

Trumpeter Les Lawry, from Highton, Geelong, saw that he had been wounded and fallen into a hole in No Man's Land. He went out and waited with him for two hours before he could safely bring him back to the trenches. He was evacuated to London with wounds to the face and neck and dysentery. In January 1916 a medical board reported that Albert “was improving but still unsettled and easily excited. Suffers from headaches, sleeps badly. Lost 1½ stone although recovered from dysentery”. He was suffering from shell shock. The Board recommended three months “change” in Australia. He first went on leave to Scotland and then returned to Australia in March 1916.

Back in Geelong he attended the Head of the River and then in May addressed the Old Collegians' Association dinner, saying: the pluck of the Public School boys at the front was even greater than that of others. No matter how heavy the shelling he had never seen a public school boy afraid. The spirit of the Australians throughout was fine. Their language might have been peculiar at times, and not understood by English officers, but back of the language was the spirit. The Australians were out to do a job, and did it well, and there were no finer soldiers in the world. It was not until September that year that he was back in camp at Macleod, returning to Egypt as a Lieutenant, Commanding Officer of Troops, on 31 January 1917.

Albert was wounded at the 2nd battle of Gaza, Palestine, with severe gunshot wounds to his abdomen and scrotum on 19 April 1917. The battle had begun two days earlier with a frontal assault on the Turkish trenches, supported by six tanks and gas shells. After three days of fighting the attack was called off. Albert died of his wounds on 25 April 1917. He was one of the few original officers of the 8th Light Horse remaining.

In May 1917 at a memorial service for Geelong Grammarians at the Presbyterian High Church, Albert was described as “courteous, sincere and contemplative. He was born for leadership, and had he lived would have followed his father's footsteps, and been a power of strength in our legislative halls. He was a modern Sir Galahad”.

Albert Naples Anderson is buried at Kintara Military Cemetery, Egypt.

On his tombstone is written
Having fought to the end,
Remained victor on the field.

Karen O'Connor 2015

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