Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Story of George William Hooper

George's Discharge Papers:

George was born in Port Augusta but his parents were living in Quorn at the time of his enlistment. He had just completed a four year apprenticeship with Cobbins of Quorn as a dental mechanic.

George had spent four years in the Cadets and Citizens Forces, was 18 at enlistment and his apprenticeship had just finished.
He enlisted on the 28th of August, 1915 when he was accepted as a private in C Company of the 2nd Training Depot. In early November George was transferred to the Australian Army Medical Corps at Mitcham due to his experience as a Dental Mechanic. Five days later he was attached to the Sixth Field Artillery Brigade as a dental orderly and on the 18th of November he was reclassified as a gunner and included with the brigade 4th reinforcements.

In March of 1916, George embarked with the brigade reinforcements from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Malwa.
By May George was in Egypt for training. During this time he found himself in the third Australian General Hospital with dysentery for a fortnight. On discharge he spent time in a convalescent camp in Ras el Tin.
In August George traveled to England and by September he was in Winchester. From the 18th to the 20th George was absent from roll call and was found guilty of an offence.

In October he was marched into the 8th Training Battalion and in November he proceeded overseas to France on the SS “Golden Eagle”. On the 12th of that month he marched into Etaples and 13 days later was taken on strength by 32 Battalion.

Georges military record from here on shows consistent problems with health. On the 11th of December he was admitted to hospital sick and over the next nine days is moved through a number of medical units till he finally arrives in Rouen and is diagnosed with “trench foot”.

Trench foot was a significant problem for the soldiers during the first war. Caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to cold and damp, it caused the sufferer’s feet to swell, go numb and change colour to red or blue. At its worst the feet develop open sores and blisters and bad fungal infections flourish. Untreated the condition can lead to amputation due to gangrene. Even when treated early and well the sufferer is subject to intense pain as the feeling comes back to their extremities.

A month later, in the middle of January, 1917, George was released from hospital and on the 20th he marched into the base depot in Etaples.

Two months later George was again admitted to the hospital in Etaples suffering from PUO (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin), simply put, a fever which hadn’t been diagnosed. This time George was put aboard the HS “Newhaven” at Calais and sent to England, where he was admitted to Fort Pitt Hospital in Chatham a week after his initial admission to the Etaples Hospital. George’s medical treatment must have been long as he was transferred, again, to another hospital in Harefield on the 12th of April. On the 7th of May George was given a thorough medical examination and found to be “unfit for general service for 6 months, but fit for home service” and on the 14th he was allowed to go on furlough.

On return from his two weeks leave George underwent another medical exam which confirmed that he was suffering from a pre-existing back injury and he was directed to report to Number 2 Command Depot in Weymouth where he was taken on strength officially on 16th September.

By December George was slated to return to Australia and on the 21st he boarded the HMAT “Persic” for his return journey.In February of 1918 he was back in South Australia at the Number 7 general Hospital in Keswick and was formally discharged due to health reasons on the 18th of March 1918.
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