Roy Earl was 19 years of age and working as a Farmer on his parent’s poultry farm at Glen Iris, Bunbury, when he enlisted for War Service on 18 August, 1914. He was posted to the 11th Battalion 3rd Infantry Brigade at Blackboy Hill Camp, WA and completed basic training in late October, 1914. Pte. Earl embarked from Fremantle, WA on the troop transport ship ” Ascanius ” on 2 November, 1914 bound for Alexandria, Egypt. He disembarked on 26 November, 1914 to the Overseas Training base at Ghezireh, Egypt, where he experienced advanced training under the harsh desert sun for the next 3 months.
On 2 March, 1915, Roy Earl embarked from Alexandria with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces, bound for the Gallipoli Peninsula. The 11th Battalion were based at Mudros, Lemnos, until orders were issued to board transport ships for transfer to the pending action at Gallipoli. Pte. Earl took part in the frantic Dawn Landing at Anzac Cove, where he suffered a gunshot wound to his head, when the bullet ricocheted off the Rising Sun Badge on his slouch hat. He was quickly evacuated by Hospital Ship to Hospital at Alexandria. Due to the nature of his wound, Roy was further evacuated to England, where he was admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital at Dudley Road Birmingham on 12 May, 1915.
Treatment, convalescence and recovery from the head wound took almost 4 months, then Roy was shipped back to Gallipoli on 6 September, 1915 to rejoin the 11th Battalion in the field . Pte. Earl was transferred to Sarpi Camp Mudros, Lemnos on 7 December 1915, and promoted to the rank of Temporary Corporal. One week later, he disembarked at Alexandria and transferred to the Overseas Training Base at Ghezireh. In late February 1916, Roy was transferred to the 51st Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir Egypt and promptly promoted to the rank of Corporal.
On 15 March, 1916, Cpl. Earl was promoted to the rank of Sergeant at Tel-el-Kebir, and remained in Egypt with the 51st Battalion, to undertake further training. He spent 2 weeks in the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital at Serapeum, Egypt from 10 May, 1916 ,suffering from a fever, before rejoining his Battlion in the field at Ismailia, Egypt. Additional training ensued for more than 4 months, until Sgt. Earl embarked for the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, France. He joined the 51st Battalion in the field in France on 7 October, 1916.
Roy Earl was swiftly promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant and moved to the Western Front battlefields of the Somme. During late February, 1917, the German troops retreated to the Hindenburg Line, however had left behind a number of well fortified French Villages. The fortification was unknown to the advancing Australian Forces. Roy Earl had just been newly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, when he led his Company on an attack on the fortified village of Noreuil France on 2 April, 1917. His distinguished service during this action led to the award of a Military Cross – ” On 2nd April 1917 during the advance and attack on Noreuil, a part of the Battalion was temporarily checked by enemy Machine Guns in the Sunken Road from Noreuil to Longatte. Lieut. Earl with a party of Lewis Gunners and bombers got into the road on a flank, and put the three guns out of action, which were holding up the advance. These guns were captured and their teams either killed or taken prisoners, two at the first gun being shot by Lieut. Earl with his revolver. He then mopped up the dugouts in the road in accordance with instructions previously given and subsequently established a strong post on the left of the road to protect our flank, which was exposed owing to the non – appearance of the troops on our left. Lieut. Earl’s ready action and gallantry on this occasion removed a great danger and undoubtedly prevented many casualties “.
Shortly after the Noreuil offensive, Lieut. Earl was admitted to the 14th General Hospital, Wimereux, France, where he spent 12 days suffering from severe enteritis. In early May 1917, Roy was detached to the 1st Anzac Corps School in France, where he was an instructor, for almost 5 months, before being granted English Leave. He returned to detachment with the 1st Anzac Corps School following leave, and remained in this capacity until he rejoined the 51st Battalion in the field in France on 22 December, 1917. After a month in the field Lieut. Earl was detached for duty at 13th AIF Brigade Headquarters in France until 20 March, 1918 when he was granted English Leave.
On 4 April, 1918 Roy Earl joined the 51st Battalion in response to the major German offensive ,which had been halted at Villers-Brettoneux, France. During a counter-attack by the Germans ( outnumbering the Australians 10:1 ), on the night 24/25 April, 1918Lieut. Roy Earl had assumed command of ” B ” Company, and was awarded a Bar to the Military Cross, for his courageous acts and devotion to duty – ” During a counter attack by his Battalion, South of Villers-Brettoneux on night 24/25th April 1918 this officer did excellent work. When the advance was checked, with his platoon, he at once reinforced the Battalion left flank and on reconnoitring the position, he found an enemy strong post with Machine Guns. He at one led his Lewis Gun and Rifle Bombing Section and attacked the post, finally killing or capturing the Garrison and taking three Machine Guns. This work was carried out under very heavy Machine Gun and Rifle fire, and he set a splendid example as a leader, and his coolness and resourcefulness at a most serious and critical situation, made it possible for the advance to continue “. The British and French Commanders were glowing in their praise for the gallant actions of the Australian soldiers, during this key battle to close down the German advance towards Amiens, France.
Lieut. Earl remained in service at the Western Front until granted English Leave on 29 September, 1918. He rejoined the 51st Battalion in the field in France on 16 October, 1918, serving continuously until transferred to AIF Headquarters London, England. Shortly before this new posting, Roy Earl had been promoted to the rank of Temporary Captain, whilst still in France. He was awarded further promotion to the rank of Honorary Captain on 10 May, 1919 after he had returned to France. Capt. Earl was transferred 3 weeks later to the No. 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott England in preparation for his return to Australia.
Capt. Roy Earl embarked from England on the troop transport ship ” City of Exeter ” on 12 July, 1919, bound for Fremantle, WA. He arrived in Australia on 16 August, 1919, before being discharged from active service 0n 16 October, 1919.
Service Medals Awarded
1914/15 Star – No. 1197
British War Medal – No. 553
Victory Medal – No. 552
Bar to the Military Cross