Henry Thomas Eric Stiles
T/2ndCpl. Henry Thomas Eric Stiles was born in 1896 at Putney, Surrey, England. He served in the Territorials until departing for Australia. He arrived in Sydney, on the s.s. Commonwealth on 9th July 1914. His occupation was listed as a farmer in England and on coming to Phillip Island he worked for the Jeffrey brothers and David Grayden on their farms.He had his medical examination at Cowes and enlisted there on 30th July 1915. The President of the Shire of Phillip Island and Woolamai Allan McIlwraith was the attesting officer. He was appointed to the 10th Battery of the 4th Field Artillery Brigade on 22nd September 1915.
Eric embarked Melbourne on HMAT Wiltshire on 18th November 1915 and disembarked at Suez on 15th December 1915. He then proceeded to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
He transferred to the 5th Divisional Artillery at Tel el Kebir on 3rd March 1916. He was appointed Acting Driver and was taken on strength with the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column at Zeitoun Camp on 20th March 1916. This was part of the 2ndDivision which had been formed in Egypt the previous year and had served at Gallipoli. The Division was made up of units training in Egypt. The 2nd Division was the first division to move to France and Eric embarked Alexandria on 20th March for Marseilles on HT Magdalene.
The division first took over part of the “nursery” sector around Armentieres. Eric was taken on strength with the 22nd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade on 11th April 1916.
“On 27 July 1916, it relieved the First Division at Pozieres and captured the Pozieres Heights at great cost. Two more tours of the Somme followed in August and November.”
The Howitzer Brigade was broken up and the 105th Battery was transferred to the 5th Field Artillery Brigade on 27th January 1917 and Eric transferred soon after.
“In March 1917 a flying column of the Second Division pursued the Germans to the Hindenburg Line. At Lagnicourt on 15th April 1917, it was struck by a powerful German counterattack, which it repelled. On 3rd May 1917 the Division assaulted the Hindenburg Line in the Second Battle of Bullecourt, holding the breach thus gained against furious counterattacks. During the Third Battle of Ypres, it fought with great success at Menin Road in September and Broodeseinde in October.
In March 1918 the Second Division helped halt the German offensive in the Somme region and fought in the Battle of Hamel in July and the Battle of Amiens in August.
In September 1918 it took Mont Saint Quentin by storm in one of the finest feats of fighting of the war. It fought on to the Hindenburg Line and beyond, becoming the last division to be withdrawn.
Eric marched out to England on22nd February 1919 and left Australia on the Wahehe on 30th March 1920.
He applied for a Soldier Settlement Block on returning to the Island in 1920 and was granted Allotment 128 of 241 acres. He married Bertha Taylor at Cowes in 1921.
By 1931 they were living in Caulfield and Eric was working as a chauffeur to State Ministers of the Victorian Parliament.
He died on 27th February 1952 at the Alfred Hospital after a long illness and was cremated at Springvale. His ashes are buried with those of his wife and two daughters.
Henry Thomas Eric Stiles is commemorated in the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour, the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour and St Philip’s Roll of Honor.