Frank Massie, his map of the Charge at Beersheba and the Bednall Papers

 

Continued

On the 1st of May, Massie was instrumental in organising and leading elements of the 4th Light Horse Brigade as they withdrew from positions near Es–Salt. Although often under heavy fire, he was able to commit troops to the places they were most needed, and his actions assisted the brigade in being able to withdraw in good order. Shortly afterwards, his name was promulgated in Sir Edmund Allenby’s despatches for his bravery and leadership during the action.

 

The end of the month saw the 4th Light Horse Brigade in defensive positions at Musallabeh. With soaring temperatures and an infestation of flies, scorpions, spiders and snakes, many men became ill, including Massie. He returned to headquarters in June, but his health was still not good, and in August he was sent to a rest camp for a week.

 

Throughout early September, Massie was kept busy as the 4th Light Horse Brigade was in constant motion. On the 1st of October, elements of the brigade were the first to enter Damascus.

 

On entering the town, Massie told his batman he was not feeling well and took himself to hospital. He was suffering malignant tertian malaria, and though he tried to rally, he developed pneumonia and his health deteriorated. He did not recover and died on the 15th of October. He was laid to rest in the Damascus British War Cemetery the following day. He was 31 years old.

Sources:

  • AWM RoH database

  • AWM Embarkation Roll

  • 1st Battalion War Diary: August 1914 - June 1915

  • NAA B2455 Service Record

  • Family information

  • Ancestry

  • The Bednall Papers held by National Library (ID Number: PR86/300)

Special thanks:

Michael Kelly

Historian, Military History Section

Australian War Memorial, Canberra