Saunders, Herbert (Bert) James

Last updated on 02-Jun-19

Herbert James (Bert) Saunders


3128 Pte. Herbert James Saunders was born in 1886 at Mt. Pleasant, South Australia to John Saunders and Annie Gibbons. 


He was a sailor on HMS Challenger when on 22nd November 1905 he deserted the ship at Portland, Victoria.


He was a laborer at Rhyll before and after the war and was a brother of Mrs. William Reid of Rhyll.Two of his brothers John Thomas and William Arthur also served in the war and both lived at Rhyll at different times.Another brother Alfred George Charles was listed as a soldier at Cowes in 1919 but no military records could be found.


Herbert enlisted on 5th July 1915 with the 10/6th Battalion and embarked on the ship Pera on 9th September 1915.  He joined the 6th Battalion at Serapeum in Egypt and served with fellow Islander James Smith in Egypt and France.

“After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt where they received reinforcements and carried out defensive duties. During this time the AIF was reorganised and expanded as fresh divisions were raised.In order to spread experience across the new units, the existing units were split up and the 6th Battalion provided half its experienced officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to the 58thBattalion. In March 1916, it sailed to France and deployed to the Somme, where it was sent to a quiet sector near Fleurbaix. Its first combat came on 12th June when the battalion launched a trench raid on the Germans opposite their position.”


Bert was attached to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters as a Military Policeman from 21st June to 25th October 1916.

He rejoined the Battalion on the Somme and was admitted to hospital on 22nd December.  On discharge from hospital he joined the 1st Australian Base Depot on 13th January 1917.

He proceeded to England on 13th February and marched in to No. 2 Australian Command Depot.

Bert embarked for Australia on HT Themistocles on 4th May 1917 suffering from disorderly action of the heart (DAH) and bronchitis.

Bert returned to Rhyll but was in Stawell in 1918 and doesn’t show up again on records until 1937 at Murray Bridge.  He married about 1930 in South Australia.  Bert died at Springbank, South Australia on 24th November 1951.  He was buried in the AIF Cemetery, West Terrace, Adelaide.