This is not a Bennett + Bennett project, nor a Surveying, Town Planning or Spatial Services story.

It is one of many such Anzac stories of endurance that remind us of how difficult war is and the dangers that these young men must have endured. We are left with the wonderful legacy of freedom and we should be forever grateful for that right.

Joseph Henry Tritton, is the Great Grandfather of our Spatial Services Team Leader Mr Ben Dawes, and Ben is immensely proud of his heritage and his family history.

Ben describes it as a story of survival and tragedy….

”The story shows how challenging these times must have been, at 21 he gave up his land to fight for his country and place his life in danger. From my perspective I am shocked by some of the stories my uncle told me and how so very lucky Joseph was to get through the War. It is a sad story but really reflects the struggles and determination of a generation.” (Ben Dawes)

Some statistics on World War 1 veteran: Joseph Henry Tritton (Rank: Lieutenant)

  • Date of birth: 14 April 1894
  • Place of Birth: Brisbane, Qld, Australia
  • Served in Egypt & France
  • 49th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Enlisted: 17 September 1915 (Age 21 years & 5 months)
  • Date returned to Australia: 18 January 1919
  • Link to Australian War Memorial notation – Joseph Henry Tritton

Pre-war

Joseph Henry Tritton was born on 14 April 1894 in Brisbane, the son of Joseph & Louisa Mary Tritton. Joseph was educated as a Wool Classer in Brisbane. From Brisbane he traveled to Richmond in North West Queensland to commence work on a sheep station called Tarbrax. While working there the Government put blocks of land up for ballot and he was fortunate enough to draw a block of land called Ashley.

In 1914 War broke out and his small holding was leased to another grazier.

At the age of 21 years and 5 months Joseph volunteered to fight for his country and on 17 September 1915 he headed back to Brisbane and enlisted in the army at the Enoggera Base. A copy of Joseph’s enlistment papers from that date can be found here – Joseph Henry Tritton enlists.

Nobody knows why he enlisted for sure, but like many young men of the day, the opportunity to travel, defend our rights and join their mates was too strong an urge.

World War 1

Joseph left by boat from Pinkenba Wharf on the HMAT Itonus on 30 December 1915 and traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where he trained at Camp Mena in the shadows of the great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza. He battled Influenza which he had caught in the boat trip from Australia.

He worked hard through training before heading to Serapeum in early April 1916 where he joined the 49th Battalion (made up of Gallipoli veterans from the 9th Battalion and Queensland men) as a Corporal on 3 April 1916 and was given orders on 5 June 1916 to join the BEF (British Expeditionary Forces). Boarding the SS Arcadian (a British steam passenger ship) at Alexandria, Egypt and disembarked in Marseilles, France on 12 June 1916. Then they headed north by rail to what was known as the “Nursery” between St Omer, Aire and Hazebrouck area of the French Flanders. From here the Divisions were transported and marched to the Western Front and were in the Somme offensive at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm from June onward.

It was here the Australian divisions lost 1000’s, wave after wave attempted to break through the German line over a couple of months but with continuous shelling and machine gun fire, it was difficult for them to gain much ground. The Tritton family are aware that an attack took place at around midnight on 29 July 1916 consisting of six Australian brigades and two British division. But the German’s noticed the advancement and within 15 minutes a whole battalion had been reduced to no-one with heavy bombing; the 25th lost 343 causalities. I think there was around 23,000 to 28,000 casualties by September 1916. Pozieres, where Joseph fought (now a Sergeant – 24 August 1916) lost approximately 7,000 men with over 16,000 wounded. Divisions were continuously relieved and sent back to the “Nursery” to recover and regroup.

This photo shows the 49th Battalion at the ‘Nursery’ in late 1916. Joseph Henry Tritton is seated in the front row – 8 from the left, 7 from the right.

Joseph completed courses in barb wire and chemical mask application during these periods, then returned to his Battalion – what was left of it! He was promoted to Second Lieutenant on 16 September 1916 and by the time December 1916 had come around, he took leave on medical grounds for bronchitis and tonsillitis in England, returning only to be shot in the hip and was hospitalised on 16 June 1917. This was on the western front where the conditions were shocking.

He did recover returning to his battalion and was sent to several locations but was never the same and continually battled illness, finally returning home on 6 February 1919, some 3 years later….

After it all…

Returning to his rural land, Joseph worked extremely hard and ended up owning several properties in conjunction with his brothers and sisters. He returned from a terrible war to build an Australian rural dream and came out of the depression (1930’s) dented but still going.

You would ask, how much can one endure or how strong a man do you have to be?
Joseph married Edith Matilda Conn and they went onto have three children and set up life on the land.

On return from the war, Joseph continued to struggle from the challenges of war and we believe he was not coping with the deep trauma and stress of those times. In a terrible outcome, Joseph took the life of his wife and himself at a special spot …. a lovely tree lined area on the bore drain at “meadowlands” (part of their adjoining property).

He rests with his wife on his “Silver Hills” property, north of Richmond, Queensland with the rising sun on his stone.

So at 5.55am this Anzac Day 25 April 2020, when you are up and at the end of your driveway to honour our past heroes and veterans, remember Joseph and his like and be very thankful for what we have today, because of them.

Lest we forget.

Thanks to:
The Tritton, Dawes and O’Neill families,
Mary O’Neill (Ben’s Grandmother), Steve O’Neill (Ben’s Uncle), Kate Dawes (Ben’s Mum), Ben Dawes