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
2465 Sapper Henry James Bird – Paynesville Killed in Action 19 August 1916
….. retrieved from the field to the trench where he died
Henry and Helen Bird settled in Paynesville after their marriage in 1881 and it was here that they raised their nine children. Henry was the sixth children and the third of four sons born here. Within a month of being 25 old, he was in a trench in France and a shell struck him and killed him instantly. He was educated at Paynesville and was qualified as a steam engine driver. His sister Annie had married and was living at Ballarat which may account for him being employed in that area. For four years he worked as a cream grader and butter maker at Bendigo. The company that employed him thought a great deal of him and reluctantly accepted his resignation when he wished to serve his country. While at Bendigo he was a staunch and loyal member of the congregation at St Paul’s Church.   He came home to Paynesville to enlist and did so at Bairnsdale on 5 August 1915 with the 2 nd  Field Company Engineers and embarked on the Mooltan at the end of the year.   Henry’s family received a telegram stating that he had been killed in action on 19 July 1915 however, once they got over the shock of receiving the telegram, they realised that just the same week they had received a letter from him dated 25 July and bearing a post stamp of 26 July 1915 saying just a few lines to let you know I am well and out of the trenches again, we was only in four days that was long enough. Justifiably the family questioned the notification. They then received letters from his Lieutenant and a fellow sapper expressing their admiration and regard for Henry after his death on 18 August. The officers and men of his company were very attached to him and he was remembered for his fine genial manner and his alert and fearless dedication to his duty. The Red Cross made enquiries on behalf of the family and determined that he had been killed in the field by shell fire within view of the famous Pozieres Windmill between past 9 and 10 o’clock on the night of the 19 th   August 1916. He had been badly wounded and retrieved from the field to the trench where they were and died there. Henry’s mother subsequently received a letter in November explaining the mix up in the date of death. Dear Madam Official advice just to hand shows that through an error in coding, the cable message intimating the death of your son, the late No. 2465, Sapper H.J. Bird, 2 nd  Field Company Engineer, gave the 19 th  July instead of the 19 th  August. This error has now been rectified on the records here. A certificate of report of death is enclosed herewith. Henry was buried at Albert Communal Cemetery and is remembered on honour rolls at Paynesville, St John’s Church and Bairnsdale and remembered at Villers Bretonneux. He was 24 years old.