Their bodies are buried in peace; but their names liveth for evermore.
Their Duty Done
A tribute to the men and women of the East Gippsland Region who Died as a result of their participation in World War One : 1914 -1919
5339 Private Earnest Baulch - Moormung Killed in Action 26 September 1917
Earnest Baulch was one of a family of nineteen children who moved to Moormung in 1890. There were already many members of the Baulch family in the district so one would expect that with a large family there was extended support for James and his wife Anne. Earnest was in the middle of the family being born on 17 August 1884 at Macarthur. From 1890 to 1913, Earnest and his siblings were educated and worked in the district. When he was 23 years old he married Florence Smith in October 1907. Their son Reginald was born the following year at Bairnsdale as was their daughter Doris in 1910. Earnest moved his family to Foster where Jonathan was born in 1912. Their son Frank, born the following year died when he was one year old and their last child Roy was born at Brunswick at the same time that Earnest enlisted to serve. With four children under ten years old one can only imagine the stress that his wife Florence must have felt when he told her he had signed up on 21 February 1916. Florence had no time to get used to the idea of Earnest going away as he sailed with the 7 th  Battalion on the Euripides just six weeks later. His battalion sailed straight to the Suez Canal and disembarked on 12 May and immediately started desert training. On 21 June they left Alexandria for Marseilles, France arriving just over a week later. Earnest’s military career is one of “acting” appointments. Once at Etaples he was appointed Acting Sergeant for several months before reverting to Corporal in October 1916. He reverted back to Private at the end of March 1917. No doubt the extra money he received during this time would be welcomed by his wife and children back in Brunswick. In December 1916, Florence wrote to the authorities seeking the proper address for Sergeant Baulch as he doesn’t receive any of my letters. While food and shelter were important facets of a soldier’s life, so were letters from home and the Army arranged regular collection and delivery of the mail in the hope of keeping morale high. Florence was advised to use the address that she already had. At the end of August in 1917, Earnest was granted a fortnight’s leave in England when he had his photograph taken and sent back home, the very image shown above.. Within a fortnight of rejoining his battalion, Earnest Baulch was killed in action on 26 September 1917 in either France or Belgium. It was a notification that would be repeated time and time again in the extended family as many cousins also served with some of them also dying. His cousin, Sergeant A.C. Baulch, was awarded the DCM for gallantry. A note in Earnest’s official file, dated 29 October 1917, advises that the next of kin have been informed of his death on 26.9.1917.  No personal effects were returned to Florence despite her pleading request for his kit bag to be returned to her. When Earnest was killed there was no burial and no grave. He became one of the permanently missing who did not report for duty. Years after the guns had been silenced his identity discs were returned to Florence when his remains were found in 1921 and reburied at Oxford Road cemetery. It would be another four years before she would eventually receive photographs of his grave and his memorial badge. How Florence managed with four young children and her husband away one can only imagine. She moved repeatedly, possible going from one family member to another, for years. She never remarried and she died in 1958.
….. left a wife and four children behind