John Gardiner AUSTIN

Male 1871 - 1956

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  • Name  John Gardiner AUSTIN 
    Born  20 Jun 1871  Barbados Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  01 Nov 1956  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried  03 Nov 1956 
    Person ID  I563  Muir, Ritchie, Waddell
    Last Modified  19 Dec 2012 

    Family  Margaret MIOR,   b. 1873, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Jul 1955, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  03 May 1898  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. John Gardner AUSTIN,   b. 19 Aug 1903, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Jun 1979, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F194  Group Sheet

  • Genealogical Notes 
    • He was born at The Farm, St Philip, Barbados. He married an Australian, Margaret Drew Moir (1873-1955), in Australia, and they had one son. Like his brothers, he was a fine cricketer and he captained Barbados in the 1906 Inter Colonial series.
      John Gardiner Austin ('Ruff') had a distinguished military career in the British army. He trained as an officer at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where he won the 'Sword of Honour' and 'Silver Bugle', both of which were very prestigious awards and was commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1891. During 1899-1900 he served in the Boer War in South Africa, where he was involved in the advance on Kimberley, in operations in the Orange Free State and in Cape Colony. He was transferred to the Army Ordnance Department in 1909 and seconded to Australia as Director of Ordnance Services to the Commonwealth of Australia in time for the outbreak of war in 1914. He sailed with the first Australian Expeditionary Force serving in Gallipoli (where he was one of the first to land and the last to leave) and also served in France, on General Birdwood's staff. He was wounded twice during the war and twice mentioned in Despatches. He was awarded the C.M.G. in 1915, the C.B. in 1920 as well as the Croix de Guerre by the French. He was Director of Army Ordnance Services from 1926 to 1928. He retired as a Brigadier General in 1928 and went to live in Vancouver Island, B.C., where he died.
      During the war he wrote many letters to his mother Dorothy, describing his experiences. These letters survive in a typed transcript, a copy of which has been placed in the Imperial War Museum in London. The following is an extract from one of the letters:
      'At about 2 a.m. there was a pause in the firing as if by mutual consent. I sat alone on my pile of ammunition and mused. The spirits of night and of death were abroad and my sensations were curious, abnormal, as if the whole thing were some horrible, fantastic dream. The moon shone bright and its beams cleft the water down to my very feet. Just opposite, steeped in brilliant light, lay the Isles of Greece, so beloved by Byron. Imbros in front and Samothrace to the right, its peaks just touched with snow. Each little peak and summit stood out in the strong light. The twinkling lights of the transports shone in the distance and in front of them lay the huge hulks of the men-of-war. Man alone could be vile in such surroundings and vile indeed was his handiwork. Slowly winding its way down the hill to my left came a stream of maimed and mangled humanity. Some are limping painfully with the assistance of a comrade, others supported by two comrades, others carried on stretchers in every agonised contortions of body, the stretchers steeped in blood so that you could see and smell it. At my feet, their bodies kissed by little waves, lay the stiff bodies of men, gallant fellows who had fought their last fight and lay there, killed on their way to the boats. And with it all not the sound of a groan.
      Behind, doctors plied a busy trade and as each man was bound up he was carried to the waiting boats on which the enemy could turn his shrapnel at will. My God, if only one half of the world could just see five minutes of war, there would never again be any war. Public opinion would stop it and the nations would make any sacrifice to dignity, I had almost said to honour, to avoid such horrible slaughter. My musing wasn't to last long. A screech and a flash and the beastly chorus began again! The rattle of musketry grew louder and I began once more my vile occupation of sending up little things of lead and nickel for my own side to inflict the same suffering which I had seen on a race of men which they had never seen.'
      An obituary notice written by one of his army friends said of him: 'Besides being a fine athlete and games player with a charming way with him, he was one of the smartest and best dressed men I have known. This, with his tall splendid figure made him a beau sabreur.'

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