The Noell Brothers ( George and Stephen ), of Forrest Street Collie, enlisted for service in the Great War 1914 – 1918, four months apart, between October 1915 and February 1916. They both completed training at Blackboy Hill Camp WA, with the 11th Battalion, although with separate Reinforcement Companies. The brothers embarked from Fremantle on successive days in late April 1916 for the three week journey by ship, to Alexandria, Egypt.
During training in Egypt, the brothers were transferred to the 51st Battalion, then shipped to Marseilles France , before being posted to the 4th Australian Division Base Depot. This common alignment of service locations, had been uncanny for George and Stephen, however neither could have foreseen the diverse future directions their careers would take.
( 1 )- NOELL, George Blunderfield Bawden – ( MM plus BAR )
George was wounded in action in France during mid-August 1916, firstly admitted to Hospital at Etaples, then evacuated to the York Military Hospital in England. Little did he realize that his wounding and recuperation would prevent the brothers from meeting again for a further two years.
It was whilst George was in convalescence that he received a Postcard from Stephen, who confirmed that he had been wounded, captured and taken as A Prisoner of War and was currently interred in Germany. George wrote to the British Red Cross in late October 1916 to advise his brother’s fate. ( The Red Cross were not officially informed of Stephen’s Prisoner of War status until November 1917 ).
When George was passed fit, and after taking Annual Leave, he was posted to rejoin his Battalion in the field France, during mid-January 1917. He was awarded a Military Medal in April 1917, for his bravery and endurance whilst acting as a stretcher bearer under heavy Machine Gun and shell fire.
George was promoted to the rank of CORPORAL in the field France in early November 1917, before being granted Leave to England in late January 1918. On expiration of Leave, he was again posted to the Western Front in France, where he was wounded in action, on a second occasion. The severe Gunshot wound required immediate Hospitalization at Rouen France, then evacuation to the Alexandria Hopsital at Cosham England.
He was awarded a Bar to the Military Medal, for his bravery and endurance, when acting as a stretcher bearer clearing casualties under heavy shell and Machine Gun fire, on 24/25 April 1918. His untiring energy and devotion to duty is credited with having saved many lives. George suffered the severe gunshot wound to a leg, when carrying out the actions for which he was recommended for his Second Bravery Award.
George was granted Leave in England on recovery from injury, then again posted to rejoin his Battalion in France in mid-September 1918. He remained on duty in France until mid-March 1919, before transfer to England, for return to Australia.
He was discharged from service on 16 July 1919.
( 2 )- NOELL, Stephen Charles Leonard – ( POW )
Stephen joined the 51st Battalion in the field France in late July 1916, and had been in action for only six weeks when he was reported Missing in Action. His Postcard to brother George, and George’s letter to the British Red Cross, informing of Stephen’s severe gunshot wound to the throat, subsequent capture, and being held as a Prisoner of War in Germany, were the initial responses to hand.
Stephen was transferred to and from a number of Prisoner of War Camps in Germany , prior to his final shift to Switzerland. He was forced to wait until mid-June 1918 to gain Repatriation to England, where he was immediately admitted to King George Hospital, for treatment of his wound.
When recovered from injury, Stephen was posted to the Australian Army Postal Corps, London, in mid-September 1918. He served continuously in this role for 9 Months, except for one week of Leave.
He left England for Australia on 21 June 1919.
Stephen was discharged from Service as being Medically Unfit on 27 September 1919.