Aubrey George Farmer

Born: 20 August 1891

Died: Between 29 April 1915 and 6 June 1915

Died on service at Gallipoli. 

Awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Mention in Despatches.

Aubrey George Farmer’s Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal (with Mention in Despatches insignia) are in the Australian War Memorial (AWM) collection, as is the Next of Kin Plaque presented to his mother.

The AWM Collection information for his Distinguished Conduct Medal includes the following summary of his life and military service.

Aubrey George Farmer was born at Homebush in Sydney, NSW, in 1892 (sic). He was educated at Colston's School, in Bristol, England, but returned to Australia in 1908, and was employed as a jeweller before enlisting in the AIF in August 1914. Abbreviating his name to 'Aubrey Farmer', he became an original member of B Company, 3rd Battalion, with the service number 325. The unit sailed for Egypt aboard HMAT A14 Euripides in October 1914.

At the Gallipoli landing, and in the following days, Farmer distinguished himself by his bravery and leadership, and was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). He is believed to have been killed on 29 April, in an attempt to recover the body of Captain Charles Edward Leer, commander of C Company, who was killed on the day of the landing.

3rd Battalion's history 'Randwick to Hargicourt', published in 1935, relates that: 'Farmer was one of the most extraordinary men in the battalion. He made no secret of the fact at Mena, when the battalion was training, that everything that savoured of war was abhorrent to him, and he elected to remain in the Q.M.'s [Quartermaster's] store during that period. But during those first days on the Peninsula he proved himself to be a man of quite unexpected calibre - the great crisis developed another man, and Farmer's work throughout those first three days was of such a nature that he was awarded a posthumous D.C.M., an honour probably unique in A.I.F. history.'

These unusual remarks are supported by a letter to Farmer's mother from 1195 Private Leonard Bennett Willcock of 3rd Battalion, who wrote: 'I am proud to be able to say I knew your son very well. I used to see him in the store tent every day while we were in Egypt.' He goes on to say that 'The next I saw of him was after he was dead laying outside one of the trenches.' Since the recommendation for the DCM was for his actions on 25 April, the award cannot, in fact, be said to have been a posthumous one.

Farmer's body was not recovered, and his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing. His brother Lieutenant Reginald William Bartlett Farmer RANR also died during the war, while serving in HMAS Torrens.

The citation for the DCM reads as follows:

'On 25th April, 1915, during operations near Kaba Tepe, for gallantry in repeatedly carrying messages and twice going back for ammunition under severe rifle and machine-gun fire ; and again on 27th April, when his Officer was wounded, for organizing a party of three men, who carried the wounded Officer to the rear. Private Farmer exposed himself fearlessly, and it is owing to his coolness and initiative that the party succeeded. He was himself wounded.'

The original recommendation, which was considerably more detailed than the citation, reads as follows:

'During the period up to the time Captain Wilson was wounded Private Farmer, acting under his instructions, carried back several messages to headquarters and also went back for ammunition for the firing line on at least two occasions. There was no communication trench and Pte. Farmer had to cross a space of from 30 to 40 yards, which was incessantly exposed to severe rifle and machine gun fire. On Tuesday morning, 27th April, Private Farmer, hearing that Captain Wilson's life could be saved only if he were got to the rear, organised a party of three men who carried him back under heavy fire. Farmer had to stand up on the back parapet to direct the men how to raise the wounded officer's body and throughout he displayed great bravery and coolness. In fact it was entirely due to his initiative combined with his bravery that Captain Wilson, who was severely wounded in the head and was weakening every minute, was enabled to be got back to the rear. Throughout, till he was wounded, Farmer showed very great courage. (Reported by Lieut. L.W.Street.)'.

Despite Farmer's efforts, Captain John Carandini Wilson died of his wounds on 21 May 1915, after being evacuated to Egypt.  [JSB]

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