Edwin Benner

Date of birth: 1891
Place of birth: Tinsley, Sheffield, Yorkshire.
Date of marriage: 1915
Place of marriage: Victoria, Australia
Serial No.: 10584
Rank: Corporal
Regiment / Division: Australian Engineers
Battalion: 3rd Signal Company
Died: 10th November 1918 aged 27 years
Death location: Abbeville, France

Image copyright: Copyright expired – public domain
Photographed c. 27 June 1915 by the Darge Photographic Company in Victoria, Melbourne
Permalink: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA09678                                                                                                                                                          Edwin-Benner
Studio portrait of 10584 Private (Pte) Edwin Benner, 3rd Divisional Signal Company, of Glenhuntley, Victoria (originally from Sheffield, England).  Pte Benner is wearing sergeant’s stripes and may have been appointed to this rank temporarily.  He enlisted on 17 November 1914 and served at Z Coy Depot until 1 January 1915. He attended Signaller’s School from 9 March 1915 through until 31 January 1916.  He was appointed Movement Control Corporal (M C Cpl) on 16 May 1916 and embarked aboard HMAT Ascanius in Melbourne on 25 May 1916.  He was awarded the Military Medal on 16 July 1918.  The recommendation for this award states that on 5 April and 9 April 1918, during operations west of Morlancourt, Cpl Benner was in charge of telephone lines at Brigade Forward Station. ‘On both days, there was heavy hostile shelling and the lines were being constantly cut. Corporal Benner was constantly at work repairing the severed wires and it was due to his disregard of danger and fatigue and the manner in which he organised the men under his control, that communications were maintained at very critical times.’ He died of bronchopneumonia on 14 November 1918 at the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Abbeville, France.


Before the War
Edwin was born in 1891 to Arthur Sydney (12/08/1859 – 1934) and Frances Annie Benner (nee Ditchfield 1864 – 1937).  His parents were married in Rotherham in 1890 and Edwin was their only child.

On the 1901 Census Edwin is living with his parents at 95 Merefield Street, Rochdale.  His father is a News Advertisement Manager and he is also a church organist.

In the 1911 Census Edwin is employed as a Clerk at a brewery and is living with his parents at 89 St Andrews Road, Southampton.  His father is now working as an Assistant Clerk and his mother is a Boarding House Keeper.

Edwin emigrated to Australia in 1913 with his future wife, Edith Julia Nellie Fowler, and her family.  They sailed from London on 17th January 1913 aboard SS Otranto and arrived in Brisbane on 24th February 1913.

On the 1914 Australian Electoral Roll Edwin was recorded as living at 111 Spring Street, Melbourne, and working as a Clerk. This is the address of the Windsor Hotel which was built in 1883 and celebrates its 130th Anniversary in 2013.  However the hotel has no records of Edwin so he probably didn’t work there and, as he enlisted in November 1914, he was not there long.

Edwin married Edith  (b.1894) in 1915 in Victoria and they had a daughter, Eileen Dorothy.  They lived at ‘Rawal Pindi’, Malvolio Street, Glenhuntly, Victoria.

After his death Edith (known as Nellie) applied for free passage for her and Eileen, aged 4, to return to England and they arrived in London on 7th October 1919.  They returned to Australia in 1921, sailing from London on 12th November 1921, aboard SS Ormuz. They arrived in Brisbane in December 1921.

Military History
Before emigrating to Australia Edwin served in the 5th Hampshire Territorials.

Edwin was working as a Clerk when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17th November 1914 and served in Z Company Depot until 1st January 1915.  From 9th March 1915 to 31st January 1916 he attended Signallers School. Edwin was promoted to Movement Control Corporal on 16th May 1916.

He embarked from Melbourne on 27th May 1916 aboard HMAT Ascanius; ship number A11, and arrived in England on 18th July 1916.  On 22nd November 1916 he was sent to France.

On the 5th and 9th April 1918 Edwin was in charge of telephone lines at Brigade Forward station, west of Morlancourt, France.  During these operations the lines were continually being cut and, under heavy shelling, Edwin kept repairing the lines.  He received the Military Medal on 16th July 1918.  A recommendation for this award was made by Brigadier W Ramsay McNicoll and the quote reads:

‘On both days, there was heavy hostile shelling and the lines were being constantly cut. Corporal Benner was constantly at work repairing the severed wires and it was due to his disregard of danger and fatigue and the manner in which he organised the men under his control, that communications were maintained at very critical times.’

This award was announced in the London Gazette:

‘His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned non-commisioned officer:  No 10584 Corporal E BENNER

This award was also recorded in the Commonwealth Australia Gazette, dated 27th November 1918.

Edwin was at Hallencourt, France when he became ill with influenza on 28th October 1918 and was sent to a field hospital.  He was transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville where he died on 10th November 1918 from Bronchopneumonia.  Edwin was one of 22 servicemen who died from this in November 1918.

As well as the Military Medal Edwin was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals. The Memorial Plaque and Scroll were sent to his widow, Nellie Benner.

Edwin is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension. Grave reference V.B.46.

He is also remembered on the Australian War Memorial in Campbell, Australia.

Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 20th November 2013
Updated: Insert dates here

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