Service Number: 1724
Unit: 26th Battalion
Date of Death: 29 July 1916
Memorial: The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France
Paddy Hyde, a tin miner, had a tough upbringing, with his mother working as a washerwoman to support her family. He was typical of the men from the Granite Belt who, at the first Stanthorpe recruiting meeting in June 1915, enlisted to serve in World War I. Paddy, 29, died in action at the Battle of Pozieres, six days after the death in the same battle of fellow Stanthorpe man Jack Swaysland.
Born at the Brisbane Claim near Stanthorpe, Patrick “Paddy” Hyde was the son of John and Mary Ann Hyde. The Australian War Memorial collection contains a poignant studio portrait of Paddy dressed in uniform. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighed 161 lbs and had a reddish complexion with blue eyes and fair hair.
Paddy joined the 2nd Reinforcements of the 26th Battalion in Brisbane on 15 June 1915. At 28 years and seven months he had already received military training having spent two years with the Australian Light Horse. Paddy left Brisbane aboard HMAT Shropshire on 17 August.
At Gallipoli, on 12 October, Paddy joined his battalion on the frontline. The 26th Battalion was in position at Taylor’s Hollow, to the north of Anzac Cove. Shortly afterwards, Paddy contracted measles and was transferred by ship to the Imtarfa Hospital in Malta. He was kept in hospital and then a convalescent camp in Malta until January 1916. Paddy rejoined his battalion in Egypt on 21 February 1916. On 15 March, he left Egypt with his battalion to join the fighting on the Western Front, arriving in Marseilles on 21 March.
According to the War Diary of Lieutenant Colonel Ferguson, the 26th Battalion travelled by train northwards through the picturesque towns of Orange and Macon in the Rhone Valley. When they reached their final destination, the far northern French town of Thiennes, the ground was covered by snow. It continued snowing as the men marched to Morbecque where they were billeted in farms (AWM 1916).
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A variety of training exercises followed in preparation for the battalion’s life in the trenches on the Western Front. In addition to physical training that included route marches, the men were given musketry instruction and practical demonstrations of poison gas. In mid-April, the 26th Battalion moved into the frontline for the first time in the Rue Marle sector south of Armentieres. They remained in “the nursery” area near Armentieres throughout May and June. As the battalion did not undertake any major attacks during this time, casualties were relatively light. However, a 26th Battalion raiding party on 6 June captured three German soldiers and killed another 20. For this action the battalion received congratulations from General Birdwood, Commander of I Anzac Corps.
On 12 July the battalion left French Flanders to join the fighting on the Somme. As part of 7th Brigade, Australian 2nd Division, Paddy and the rest of the battalion were to relieve the Australian 1st Division which had lost 5,285 officers and men in the fighting at the Battle of Pozieres. Following only a few days training, including some practice attacks, the 2nd Division took over the frontline on 27 July. It was planned for the 7th Brigade to launch an attack on the German trenches in front of Pozieres Heights on the night of 28-29 July.
Lieutenant Colonel Ferguson reported on the attack in the 26th Battalion War Diary and an accompanying Intelligence Report:
The men were in position in good order and time. The one minute bombardment was not enough as it did not make the enemy keep his head down at all for he continued to fire on our men all the time, having started firing on them some three minutes previous to the bombardment. He used flares freely. The wire in front of the enemy was not cut enough as it caused a considerable amount of trouble. An order to retire was passed around from some unknown source, and though several of the officers are known to have tried to make the men go on, the retirement became general and it was not until the men were some 200 yards from the original starting point that the movement was checked. They were ordered to withdraw to the original trenches later. (AWM 1916)
The attack by the 26th Battalion was a failure and the battalion lost 36 officers and men killed in the attack with another 155 wounded; 107 men remained unaccounted for.
Paddy was reported missing in action on 29 July and no further news of him was reported month after month. In March 1917 his mother wrote to Senator George Pearce, the Minister of Defence, after hearing news that a friend had read in the North Queensland Register that Paddy was a prisoner of war in Germany. She asked if this news was correct, as she had not received any further information about her missing son. The Officer in Charge of Base Records replied that since Paddy had been reported as missing, no further official information had been reported. He suggested the news in the North Queensland Register may not have come from a reliable source.
A Court of Enquiry, in June 1917, determined that Paddy had been killed in the Battle of Pozieres on 29 July 1916. He was 29.
Paddy’s Red Cross File provides more details about his death. Corporal Frederick Stewart, a clerk from Warwick, told the Red Cross:
I knew Paddy Hyde all right. We joined up together. He and I were mates in the L.G. [Lewis Gun] Section. We were at Pozieres. We went out about midnight 28th July in the second wave of attack. Hyde was killed in the early morning of the 29th July 1916. He and I were part of a crew of 6th L.G.S. men who went out just after midnight. Hyde was the first man to fall, fatally hit. He was to my left about 100 yards away, but it was light enough to see what had happened. I was unable to go to his assistance. It was near a cemetery. 2 other men fell mortally hit soon after. Only 3 men out of the crew of 6 L.G.S. returned. I was badly hit, “ Norwich” was another and “Wilson” was the third. I brought Wilson back with me. I cannot give any better identification of these two men
Bomber David Goodyear, of Liston near Stanthorpe, said:
We went over at Pozieres together, I with the bombing section, he [Paddy] with the L.G.S. While we were finding our way through German wire entanglements, he got shot in the stomach and dropped, saying to me “Dave, I’m settled”. We had to continue on, and I saw no more of him.
It took more than a year for Paddy’s family to learn that he had died. On 10 August 1917, the Stanthorpe Border Post reported:
An official wire was received in Stanthorpe on Saturday last announcing the death of Private P. Hyde. Last year just about twelve months ago, it was announced that Private Hyde was reported missing, and the hope was entertained that he might be a prisoner of war and still alive. The wire received on Saturday, however, dissipates any hopes in that direction, for it stated that Private Hyde was killed on 29th July, 1916. Private Hyde enlisted at the first recruiting meeting held in Stanthorpe and fought in Gallipoli before going to France. Much sympathy will be felt for his relatives.
In December 1920, Base Records wrote to Paddy’s mother asking if his father was still alive. The Army was trying to determine where to send Paddy’s’ war medals. Mary Ann Hyde replied:
My son made me next of kin. All his belongings he willed to me as his father did not keep or look after his family. He would drink all his earnings and do worse so the boy would not like to give him anything. He would only sell the medal or lose it when he would get drunk. He has not supported me this 16 years. I had to wash and work to rare my children. That is why may late son left me all that would be coming to him if he got killed.
Paddy’s war medals were sent to his mother in January 1921.
Private Patrick Hyde has no known grave, but is remembered with honour on the wall of the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France.
Ferguson, Lieutenant-Colonel (1916) AWM4 Subclass 23/43 – 26th Infantry Battalion.
(ONLINE) Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1000579/ (Accessed: 16 July 2016).
Australian War Memorial Collection P08860.001 : Studio portrait of Paddy Hyde.
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.
The Village of Pozieres.