Private Arthur Gerring
39th Battalion, AIF
Service Number: 2499
Born: 2 June 1895, St Marys NSW
Died: 1 December 1917, Boulougne, France
Arthur Gerring was born in 1895 at St Marys, the son of John Richard and Ellen Gerring. After attending schools at St Marys and Penrith, Gerring worked at the St Marys Post Office as a postman. Prior to enlisting, he had served with the cadets and three years with the 41st Battalion. On enlistment, Gerring listed his occupation as railway employee.
Gerring enlisted on 21 February 1916, and was allocated to the 2nd Reinforcements, of the Miners Corps under the leadership of Professor David. In May this unit was later renamed the 1st Tunnelling Company. He arrived at Marseilles aboard the City of Edinburgh and was attached to the 1st Tunnelling Company on 26 June and taken on strength on 29 September. Gerring served with the 1st Tunnelling Company at Ypres, Armentieres and Hill 60 until August 1917 when he transferred to the 39th Battalion.
In October 1916, Gerring was hospitalised with dental problems. In January 1917 he was admitted to hospital for the same complaint. On 6 May, Gerring was classified as unfit for tunnelling and in August was taken on strength with the 39th Battalion. On 12 October 1917, during action at Passchendaele, Gerring suffered gunshot wounds. He was treated and transferred to No 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station. He was transferred to the 13th (Harvard USA) General Hospital, Boulogne on 14 October. Over the next few days he contracted bronchitis and bronco pneumonia and died on 1 December 1917. He was buried in the Boulogne Cemetery.
Gerring named his mother as the beneficiary in his will. A disagreement erupted about who should receive his medals. Miss Annie Edith Nightingale, who received a war pension for Gerring’s ex-nuptial son, Stanley John Edmonds, made representation for Gerring’s medals on behalf of her son. When the Army notified Gerring’s parents, Gerring’s mother had a ‘very decided objection to any of the War Medals etc of my son abovementioned being allotted to what you term his ex-nuptial son. For the reasons that the relationship was always denied, even when he lay dying in France, and was only inferred through want of evidence’. On 9 September 1922, the defence minister split the medals – the British War Medal and bronze plaque were issued to Gerring’s parents while the Victory Medal and scroll were issued to Annie Nightingale to hold in trust for her son. The matter was again raised in 1935 when the St Marys-Mt Druitt Sub Branch of the RSL, on behalf of a family member, wrote to the AIF Base Records Department asking for the medals to be issued so that he could present them to his parents. Base Records outlined the previous distribution of the medals and that the parents were already aware of how the medals were disbursed.
- Eastern Cemetery Boulogne France
- St Marys Honor Roll at Victoria Park