Army Museum of New South Wales
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1889. Born in May (circa) in the parish of St. Michael, Hampshire, England, Henry John Giles was the son of Henry John Ponting Giles and Mary Jane Giles.
1915. Henry Giles junior enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1915. At the time, his civilian occupation was Labourer; he was single and lived in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt with his widowed mother.
Henry Giles was posted as a Private soldier to 'A' Company, 19th Infantry Battalion and embarked with the battalion at Sydney for war service in June 1915.
Training at a camp near Cairo, Egypt was conducted for the battalion in July and August 1915 and on 16th August that year the unit embarked at Alexandria to join the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force fighting Ottoman forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.
Henry Giles was promoted to Corporal in October 1915 while the 19th Battalion was engaged in defence routine at Pope’s Hill about a kilometre inland from Anzac Cove. The battalion continued with defence routine at Pope’s Hill until the general British withdrawal from the Gallipoli Peninsula commencing in December 1915.
1916-1917. After further training in Egypt, Henry Giles embarked at Alexandria with the 19th Battalion in March 1916 to join the British Expeditionary Force in France opposite German forces on the Western Front. The first major engagement for the battalion was the British offensive in the Pozières area in the Somme Department, northern France from late July 1916 to the end of August 1916.
In December 1916 Henry Giles was promoted to Sergeant and in early 1917 carried out acts of bravery during a trench raid in the Warlencourt area of the Somme Department for which he was awarded the Military Medal. In recommending the award, the Commander 5th Brigade, AIF stated ……….
On 28 February to 1 March 1917 Sergeant Giles in charge of bombers, did very conspicuous work during three bombing attacks on Malt Trench. During the first day – 28 February – he bombed continuously under adverse conditions, the approaches being in places waist high in sticky mud. He showed great coolness and courage. On the second day – 1 March – he again carried out splendid work in preparation and supply of bombs and rifle grenades himself using rifle grenades to great advantage. He worked untiringly the whole time, setting a splendid example to the men.
He was also awarded a Mention in Despatches later in the year.
During the remainder of 1917 Henry Giles took part in two major attacks involving the 19th Battalion – the Second Battle of Bullecourt (3rd/4th May 1917) in the Pas-de-Calais Department, northern France and in the Battle of Menin Road from 20th to 22nd September 1917 in West Flanders, Belgium.
He was detached from the 19th Battalion to the 5th Training Battalion in England from late September 1917 to mid-December 1917.
1918. On 12 April 1918 Henry Giles was wounded by enemy artillery fire while the 19th Battalion was in billets at Boves in the Somme Department, northern France. He was evacuated to a hospital at Rouen, capital of the Upper Normandy Region, northern France and returned to the battalion four months later, on 8 August 1918. The battalion was at that stage near Warfusée-Abancourt in the Somme Department and taking part in what was the beginning of the final British offensive of the First World War. On 31 August 1918 Henry Giles was again wounded in action, this time during the Battle of Mont St Quentin near Péronne in the Somme Department. He died of his wounds the next day aged 29.
The remains of Henry John Giles lie buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Extension of St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
The Military Medal and war service medals for Henry John Giles were granted by the Army to his mother.
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