“Got Mit Uns”=God with us , which was the Motto of the Prussian Emperor. ( A battle find)
PTE. PHILIP JACOMB ROLLASON (b. 1890)
SERIAL # 2717
Highlights:Phil Rollason enlisted ( voluntarily ) in the 1st AIF, ( Australian Imperial Force ) – World War 1 – on the 14th August 1916 in Melbourne . He was 25 years and 5 months old.
( A total of 331,814 Australians were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF, which represented 13% of the white male population. Of these, 18% (61,859) were killed. By the end of the war the 1st AIF comprised 5 infantry divisions ).
Tim was shipped to Plymouth England, arriving 16th/11th/1916. In the field training at Hurdcott the 2nd /2/ 1917. Sick in hospital with influenza February 1917.
Tim Rollason was shipped to France from Folkstone, March 29th,1917– having arrived in Elaples. On March 31st, 1917 – with the 59th Battalion – Tim “marched out to unit” – we assume this was the 15th infantry brigade of the fifth Division. The 59THparticipated in the advance that followed the German retreat to the Hindenberg line.
Tim was “taken on strength” April 2nd 1917 (This means he joined the regiment or unit ) . May 1917, he was sick in the “field” – ( Diarrhea and other ailments) – he would have missed the second battle of Bullecourt in May at which the fifth division fought. He returned to duty at the 59th on the 23rd May. It is noted that in July Tim was transferred to a doctor’s station and back with the 59th on the 24th July. He was sick “in the field” from May to July and not officially transferred back to duty in France till the 23rd July, still with the 59th. At this point the records are less and it is unclear where “in the field “ was.
On the 12th of October 1917, the Third Division was repulsed at Passchendale. ( the battle took place from the 11 July 1917 to 10th November 1917 – Modern Dutch, now part of the community of Zonnebeke near the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium. )
The 59th battalion was not involved in the front line assault of the 4th October, but it was near the front from the 9th October on.( The battle of POELCAPPELLE). This battle marked the end of successful British attacks during the Battle of Passchendale. The weather had turned against the Allies with over 30milllimetres of rain falling between October 4th and October 9th, reducing the damaged ground into fields of mud deep enough for a man to drown in, hindering the movement of the artillery. The main attack with the 2nd Anzac Corps with the British 66th, was an advance of 600 – 800 yds. to the outer edge of the village of Passchendale.
The 59th battalion, 5th division was in the front and attack on the 26th September during the Battle of POLYGON WOOD. The 59th in the southern sector on the wood, capturing Black Watch Corner and the 300 yards south.(Polygon Wood Belgium is a small wood bout four miles east of Ypres. There is a large cemetery there as well as the Australian Memorial within the wood itself. Just outside the wood is a small original wartime cemetery). Seven divisions , five British and two Australian advanced behind a screen of shells through the woods. The Germans launched counter attacks but these were thwarted by the heavy defensive artillery barrages. The Battle of Polygon Wood cost 5,770 Australian casualties.
A Doctor’s letter uncovered. It would appear from the 1918 letter, that Tim transferred to “sixth man to a machine gun squad” – “the other five men were killed” at this battle. Tim, having survived, and having picked up an abandoned machine gun – was placed as “no.1 in a new squad”. According to the letter, Tim was not happy about the extra work and responsibility that this entailed.
18 /2/1918: Tim is transferred to Furlough in the UK. And rejoined the battalion in France 18th October 1918. He was on leave from France from 28th January to the 8th February 1919 and suffered influenza February and March 1919.
He returned to Australia on the “Bakara” and disembarked on the 27th September 1919. Officially discharged in Melbourne on the 11th November 1919.
Three medals were issued: 1914/1915 Star Medal, British war medal and Victory medal issued 10th May 1923.
From 1919 to 1924 Tim Rollason traveled overseas and we assume was working on the Ceylon Tea Plantation for that time.
Interesting Notes: It was noted that he had tattoos on both forearms.
In his service record his “crime in the field” from the 16th August to the 25th August 1918 “when in active service absenting himself without leave “ . “Total forfeiture 30 days pay.”
In Sept. 1944 he wrote to the records office stating he had not received “the bond or cash payment to which he was entitled as a member of the 1st A.I.F. after the last war .” We don’t know if he was ever paid !
A note from Jen: I have found information that Tim suffered from the German gas whilst in Europe.and was also hit by shrapnel. A note from Mary Houston was that he never talked about his experiences in the war.