Private Frederick Edgar PELL, S/N 6387 – 16th Australian Army Service Corps, enlisted for War Service at Harvey, W.A on 16 February, 1915.  He was 25 years of age at time of enlistment,  working as a Book Binder, having completed a tedious 7 year apprenticeship.  Pte. PELL embarked from Melbourne, Victoria on 22 May, 1915, aboard the Troop Ship ” Afric “, bound for Alexandria, Egypt, where he was to undertake further training.

On 30 August, 1915, Pte. PELL departed Alexandria aboard the H.M.T. ” Southland” with Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces, bound for the Gallipoli Peninsula.  Tragically, on 2 September, 1915, at approximately 9.45 a.m, some 65 kms South of the isle of Lemnos,  the “Southland ” was to become the first Australian troop ship  struck by a German torpedo.  This weapon impacted in the area of the No.2 hold, just in front of the bridge, killing PELL instantly, as he rested in his bunk.  Pte. PELL had been excused from the morning parade, due to sickness, and had only recently descended the stairs, to rest. This appallingly unlucky set of circumstances caused PELL to perish, his body never to be found. His Service Record was noted :- 3/09/1915- Missing – believed to have been drowned, off Mudros.

An Official  Court of Enquiry was conducted on 26 November 1916, and key details included in the transcript are as follows:-

FIRST WITNESS- No. 6399, SGT. John McLENNAN, stated:-

” I remember the 2nd September 1915. I was on board H.M.T. SOUTHLAND . At about 9.30a.m. the ship was struck by a torpedo. Ten minutes previous to this No. 6387 Pte. PELL obtained leave of absence from a parade on account of not feeling well.  The portion of the hold in which Pte. PELL’s bunk was located was seriously damaged by the explosion.  Whilst about 14 bodies were recovered from this portion of the ship, Pte. PELL’s body was not found “.

BY THE PRESIDENT–  ” It was quite possible for Pte. PELL’s body to be washed through the hole caused by the explosion. Pte. PELL was never seen by witness, nor to my knowledge, by any other person, after the explosion “.

 

SECOND WITNESS- No. 6278, CPL. Robert VICKERY, stated:-

” I remember the 2nd September 1915. I was on board H.M.T. SOUTHLAND on that date.  At 9.48 a.m. on the above-mentioned date the ship was struck by a torpedo.  Pte. PELL was not well at the time and was lying in his bunk at the time the explosion occurred.  I saw the portion of the ship struck by the torpedo subsequently, and it was a mass of twisted iron and framework in which it was impossible for a man to be left alive.  I saw a number of bodies brought up from that part of the ship.  Pte. PELL’s body was not amongst them “.

BY THE PRESIDENT” It would be quite possible in my opinion for the body to be washed through the hole caused by the explosion.  There were mattresses and other debris floating in the water “.

 

THIRD WITNESS- No. 6379, L/CPL. Michael BLENKINSOP, stated:-

” On the morning of the 2nd September 1915 at about 9.50  I was in the hold of H.M.T. SOUTHLAND the part which was allotted to the details of the 16th A.A.S.C. of whom Pte. PELL was a member.  At that time the ship was struck by a torpedo immediately below where I was standing.  Almost 10 minutes previously I was talking to Pte. PELL who was below having been excused from parade as he was not well.  After the explosion I managed with some difficulty by climbing up a staunchion to get out of the hold.  I only saw one other man get out similarly and he was not Pte. PELL “.

BY THE PRESIDENT” I fully believe Pte. PELL was blown up by the explosion, and his remains washed away by the inflowing water “.

 

 COURT OF ENQUIRY FINDING

” That No. 6387 Pte. PELL was killed as a result of a torpedo explosion on H.M.T. SOUTHLAND on 2nd September, 1915.

Court of Enqiry Members- Allen.E. HARTE, MAJOR, President
H.W. ENNIS, CAPTAIN
H.A. VOYSEY, LIEUT
Findings  Confirmed by:-    C.M.MANNING, LIEUT.COL, C.O 2nd, Aust. DIV. TRAIN.

 

Extract from ARMY BASE RECORDS LETTER SENT TO NEXT OF KIN, Mr. William John PELL, dated 17th April, 1917:-

With reference to the regrettable loss of your son, the late No. 6387, Private F.E. PELL, 16th Company, Aust Service Corps, I am now in receipt of advice which shows that he was killed in action ( Torpedo Explosion ) on 2nd September, 1915, on board H.M.T SOUTHLAND at sea , off Mudros, Lemnos Island.  The body was not recovered. “.

 

SERVICE MEDALS AWARDED

1914/1915 Star – No. 25998

British War Medal – No. 12639

Victory Medal – No. 12581

Memorial Plaque/Scroll – No. 322405

 

MEMORIAL INSCRIPTIONS

Harvey War Memorial, W.A.

Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT – Panel No. 181

Helles Memorial, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey