John Ferguson Arnold, or ‘Jack’ as he was better known – as told by his son Graeme Arnold.
I can still remember when Dad would have those horrible nightmares. It was these nightmares that would haunt my father for the rest of his days following World War I. Dad enlisted to the Australian Imperial Force on 13 October 1916. He joined the 59th Battalion and fought mainly in France. Dad was on the front line where he witnessed first-hand the horrors of war and which he describes in his diary.
On 24 April 1916 he wrote:
Villers Brettoneaux Stunt by 15th Brigade
“The first night of the attack was a walk-over, parties of Fritz even walking into our hands quite unconscious of our new position. We had no casualties and took several machine guns and prisoners. The next night was different; we advanced about 3am, our objective being about 500 yards on a commanding ridge. Soon after starting the enemy flares went up and his machine guns and shells began to speak. Our boys went on splendidly, the flares making it almost like day, and we gained our objective but with many casualties. Fritz massed for a counter attack but our boys, by the aid of our own guns, and his which we had got working after he was driven out of his trench, smashed him up. Next day he put a very heavy bombardment on our new position and killed several of our men.”
Dad was engaged as a stretcher bearer which meant he and another ran in to carry out wounded or deceased soldiers, and was promoted to Sergeant in June 1919. When the war was over, Dad stayed on in England and worked in the Australian Pay Office, returning to Melbourne on the “Ormonde” in 1919. He returned to Berrigan to a farm which he had bought before the war. He married Isabelle Dickie in 1924 and they had three children, and lived in Berrigan until he died in 1982, aged 91 years old.
Jack’s diaries are on display at the Berrigan Heritage Museum