John Carroll was born to Albert and Mary Harrison in May, 1888 at Fitzroy Melbourne, Victoria and as a child was adopted or given to George and Elizabeth Ellen Carroll of Beryl Street, North Broken Hill.
He was brought up and resided in the Broken Hill area working mainly in the bush as a stockman, also fought as a boxer under the name Jerry Carroll. At the outbreak of World War 1 he enlisted at Oaklands, Adelaide on the 3rd December, 1914 with the 9th Australian Light Horse regiment, service number 646. At that time he was described as being 5ft 8 inches tall, weighing 132lbs, chest measurement of 35 inches of fair complexion with brown hair and brown eyes. A labourer, 26 and 7 months old, his mother as next of kin.
Training took place and horses issued at Morphettville in SA and soon after moved to Broadmeadows in Melbourne. The 9th Light Horse Regiment was part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, the other two regiments being the 8th and 10th. He embarked aboard ship on the 11th February, 1915.
A total of 500 men and 402 horses with the 9th light Horse embarked aboard HM ‘Karoo’ and set sail for Port Suez, via Colombo. While on route the troops were involved in various classes of instruction including weapons and tactics. They also were involving themselves in various sporting activities including boxing. Trooper Carroll won the regiment boxing competition. At Colombo only officers and warrant officers were allowed ashore. The ‘Karoo’ arrived at Suez on 13 March, 1915. The troopers, their stores and horses travelled by train to Cairo, there their baggage and stores were taken by tram while the men led their horses to Mena Camp situated in the desert in the shadows of the Pyramids. Camp was laid out and training commenced along with the settling of the horses, it took three weeks before they could be ridden again.
At about this time the infantry brigades moved out of the camp without explanation leaving the light horse feeling a little left out.
Shortly afterwards the regiment moved to the racecourse at Heliopolis where training resumed. The troops were allowed leave into Cairo where they took advantage of the available wares. News was received on the 26th April, 1915 of the landings by the Anzac forces at Gallipoli.
A few days after the landings the Light Horse troops were asked if they would leave their horses and fight at Gallipoli as infantry, they all volunteered. At this time trench and wire entanglement training commenced.
On the 9th May, 1915 the machine gun sections of the regiment proceeded to Gallipoli and on the 16th May the remainder of the Regiment, some 475 men set sail for Gallipoli.
Records indicate that Trooper John Carroll was not part of this movement as he was ill. Records indicate that Trooper Carroll and others were embarked aboard the ship ‘Ceramic’ on the 26th June 1915 and sent home to Australia.
Records indicate that Trooper Carroll was returned to Egypt and the 9th Light Horse Regiment aboard the ‘Mongolia’ leaving Australia on the 13/7/16 and arriving in Egypt on the 12/8/16. He took ill shortly after arriving in Egypt spending several months in hospital. Discharged from hospital and rejoined 9 LHR in Sinai soon after took ill with Rheumatism and Myalgia.
During this period there were numerous running and set battles against the Turkish Army, well supported technically by the Germans with huge loss of life from both sides. A stalemate existed whereby the Turks held a strengthened line from Gaza to Beersheba. The Australian mounted divisions along with the 9LH regiment took the one-way trip across the desert to Beersheba. The English General, Allenby planned an attack on Beersheba in an effort to capture its wells and break the fortified line held by the enemy forces. The trip was one whereby the time they arrived at Beersheba the forces water was exhausted and most men and horses had been without for a whole day and some two days. The troopers and animals would not survive a three-day return trip to their bases without water.
The various battles to capture Beersheba took place throughout that day, 30th October, 1917 without success. At 5.30pm that afternoon C Squadron of the 9th Light Horse were bombed by an enemy aircraft. They suffered 13 killed, 20 wounded troopers and 32 killed and 26 wounded horses. Trooper Carroll was during this period a part of the 9th Light horse seconded I believe to the 3rd Brigade Scouts under his good friend Sgt Harry Runn.
A half an hour later, General Allenby decided that a charge upon the Turkish redoubts and trenches was their only hope. The English Cavalry equipped with sabres and lances wanted the honour, but Allemby decided that the Australian mounted riflemen would have first go, the 4th and the 12th Light Horse Regiments were chosen for the task. The Australians lined up and charged the entrenched cannon and machine guns on horseback, they held their bayonets forward as you would a sabre and screamed war cries. Possibly thinking they were going to suffer the same fate as their comrades of the 8th and 10th light horse were massacred nearly to a man in the charge of the ‘Nek’ at Gallipoli.
However, this was to be different, the Turks and the German machine gunners could not keep up with the speed of the onslaught. They were accustomed to the Australians rushing forward on horseback, dismounting about a mile from the trenches and carrying out the remainder of the attack on foot. The defending troops didn’t adjust the range sights on their weapons and the bulk of their fire passed over the heads of the attacking Australians. The frenzied Australians either dived straight into the trenches with their bayonets and tore up the Turks or rode straight through the trench systems and captured the town and wells intact, the wells had been wired with explosives but not detonated.
The Australians suffered a low 31 troopers killed considering the task, but the Turks suffered many more and thousands captured. Trooper Carroll and the 9th LH were a part of the blocking force to cut of any retreat. The Gaza-Beersheba line was finally beaten after continuous action in the hills over the next 9 weeks, after which the Australian Mounted divisions were rested at Belah on the coast. General Allemby who was most impressed with the charge by the Australians at Beersheba had all mounted Australian troopers issued with the British pattern 1908 cavalry sword.
The 9th light horse up until this time had lost 8 officers and 99 other ranks killed at Gallipoli and a further 4 officers and 45 other ranks killed in Sinai. That being a total loss of just under a third of their number killed in action since the start of the war. The killed and wounded were being replaced constantly maintaining a number of around 400 to 475 at any given time.
At Belah various competitions between the various brigades were held, comprising of races, dressage, mounted wrestling, mounted tug of war and shooting, mounted bayonets. The 3rd Brigade was the outright winner.
Trooper Carroll became ill and spent some time in various hospitals suffering from pleurisy, a disease affecting the lungs.
At the time of his return to duty with the 9th Light Horse, Trooper Carroll was now carrying out the duties as a stretcher bearer, that is he moved with the attacking troops and collected any wounded and returned them to a safe location where they in turn were removed by the transport corps to an aid station and later a hospital. The light horse worked in sections of four troopers, they shared and did everything together, and they were inseparable. They especially looked after each other in sickness and battle and in the circumstances in which these men lived and fought they relied very heavily on their mates. During the war the 9th Light Horse Regiment suffered a total of 40 deaths due to illness.
During July and August, 1918 the 9th Light Horse were involved in various battles with the Turks in the Jordan Valley with the Es Sale raid, action at Ludd and then what is termed the ‘big ride’ where the Australian mounted divisions routed the Turks and Germans chasing them to Syria. On the 29th of September, 1918, B Squadron of the 9th Light Horse Regiment were in a position south west of Sasa, which is now a part of Syria. Late that afternoon B Squadron engaged the Turks and Germans who were in position astride the road some 2 and a half miles south east of Sasa. The scouting patrol of Australians was allowed by the Turks to pass through, they were subsequently cut down and captured after a short fight. Those captured, Sgt King, Cpl Betteridge, Cpl Down, L-Cpl Clark, L-Cpl Hanrahan, Trooper O’Donnell and Cpl Adams were taken, the only men from the regiment captured during the war. The terrain was one of a chain of small hills, almost solid rock and covered with huge boulders. The position that the Turks held gave them an open field of fire of a little over a mile. It was later found that the enemy consisted of 300 German machine gunners and 1200 Turkish infantry, with four field guns.
At the location where the Australians came under fire at least one trooper was still under the guns of the Turks. Trooper McCann was lying pinned beneath his dead horse. Trooper Carroll a stretcher-bearer was later awarded the Military Medal. The recommendation for the MM award was:
For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty under fire near Nukar Sasa on the 29.9.18 when his squadron was reconnoitring the enemy’s position. Trooper McCann had his horse killed, which fell on him and pinned him to the ground. Trooper Carroll galloped forward under heavy machine gun fire and freed Trooper McCann and carried him to a place of safety.
The troopers of the light horse again forced the Turks from these positions the following day and in the days following they used their swords in a number of charges to route and capture large numbers of enemy troops. The regiment continued until they came to Adana gorge, they overlooked the village of Dumar where large numbers of Turks were using the gorge in an attempt to flee. At this point the Barada River, Damascus to Beirut Railway and road run together at the base of the escarpments. The regiment brought them under accurate fire preventing their escape and resulting in around enemy700 killed.
The following morning the regiment moved through the entangled mess of the ambush, the medical teams took care of the hundreds of German and Turkish wounded and clear away the hundreds of dead soldiers, animals and vehicles. Another 1,000 prisoners were also collected. The 9th Light Horse were the first Allied troops to enter Jerusalem, they rode through the streets of cheering locals who had suffered occupation for a number of years. The troopers received gifts of food, fruit and cigarettes. The regiment rode straight through the city pursuing the enemy and seeking their men who had been taken prisoner a few days earlier, they were all located intact.
It is believed that the glory of capturing the city of Damascus was to be held for the Arab Armies under Lawrence of Arabia. The Australians however were not in a mind to wait and proceeded with what they were doing and Lawrence and his Arabs arrived in Damascus a day later to liberate the city, again.
On the 12.10.18 Trooper Carroll was again taken to hospital and returned to Egypt where he convalesced and found to be unfit for further duty, he was embarked aboard HMT ‘Aeneas’ on the 1.1.19 bound for Australia arriving on 13.2.19 and discharged from the Army on 16.4.19. John Carroll served 4 years and 164 days. 4 years and 3 days spent overseas.
There are some problems with the papers that I have received, they indicate no Gallipoli service, but a return to Australia, but other documents do not relate to this return but maintain that he left Australia on 11.2.15 and returned 13.2.19.
John Carroll met and married Olive Greenhill at Broken Hill after the war and they lived at 243 Hebbard Street, South Broken Hill, the home of Olives parents. Here they had 3 sons and 4 daughters, Jack, Ronald, George, Valda, Jean Iris and Joan. At one stage early in the marriage the family travelled to Melbourne and met John’s natural mother and siblings.
When Ron was of age he went to work on the property Pincally Station in the west of NSW under Harry Runn, Harry was Johns Sergeant in the 9th Light Horse. Harry told Ron of the many escapades involving his father during the war; some of those stories are contained herein. Harry Runn told Ron of his father’s service at Gallipoli, is it possible that John did not return to Australia as directed but went with his mates to Gallipoli. Records do not relate his arrival in Australia or Gallipoli, only they stop just prior to embarkation by the regiment to Gallipoli and his reappearance in Egypt upon the Regiments return from Gallipoli. Harry Runn told of two wounds received by John at Gallipoli, a bayonet wound to the stomach and a bullet wound to the leg. These scars were evident to Ron and his siblings borne by their father. With the confusion at Gallipoli, stories passing through many hands and the passage of time, the actual events may never be known.
John Carroll did not himself relate any of his experiences to his wife or children and most of those experiences passed on with him when he died at Broken Hill, on the 18th December, 1938 after spending many years in the repatriation Hospital at Concord.
Trevor Carroll, grandson, Forster NSW
|Place of birth||Victoria|
|Address||Beryl Street, North Broken Hill, New South Wales|
|Age at embarkation||26|
|Next of kin||Mother, Mrs Elizabeth Carroll, Beryl Street, North Broken Hill, New South Wales|
|Enlistment date||4 December 1914|
|Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll||3 December 1914|
|Rank on enlistment||Private|
|Unit name||9th Light Horse Regiment, B Squadron|
|AWM Embarkation Roll number||10/14/1|
|Embarkation details||Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board Transport A10 Karroo on 11 February 1915|
|Rank from Nominal Roll||Private|
|Unit from Nominal Roll||9th Light Horse Regiment|
|Recommendations (Medals and Awards)|
Military Medal (Awarded)
Recommendation date: 29 September 1918
| ||Returned to Australia 1 January 1919|