The importance of Ernest's survival

23 Apr, 2015 02:00 AM

WHEN Ernest Hargraves heard the whistling of an incoming mortar missile at Gallipoli and there was no room in the fox hole, a happy life back in his home town of Young probably felt a long way away.

Running to the next fox hole, he found some room - and also saw the bomb hit the first shelter he had been turned away from only moments before.

It was one of those moments of chance from World War I, and Ernest did not let his chance go to waste.

After returning to Australia in 1919 after surviving battles at Gallipoli and France, Ernest married and had seven children, before passing away in 1945.

"I told mum how lucky that was," said one of his daughters, Clara Freudenstein.

"We've had a wonderful life."

Mrs Freudenstein said her father never really spoke much about the war, and the story of the two different fox holes was one of the few the family heard about.

Of his landing at Gallipoli in 1915, he would only say "the barbed wire was horrific."

Ernest almost never made it to Gallipoli in the first place, however, after his first application to join the army was rejected - a brick maker from Young somehow deemed not healthy enough for the army.

Undeterred, he travelled from Young to Sydney and enlisted at Liverpool, becoming a Private in the 20th Infantry Battalion, service number 198.

He was wounded in both Gallipoli and in France, but wouldn't let that keep him from the action - after receiving a number of bullet wounds at Gallipoli in November 1915, military records showed he rejoined his battalion only five days later.

Mrs Freudenstein said Ernest's family were proud of him, and "all the wonderful young men who went and fought for us".

Roderick Makim

Roderick Makim

is a senior journalist for The Land


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