Cecil Sidney Marsden
Serial No. 867
5th Railway Section
Cecil Sidney Marsden - Information
The Marsdens had lived in Campbelltown, where Cecil was born in 1880. The family then moved to Western Australia. Cecil found work as an engine driver, and settled down in north Fremantle with his wife, Grace. As the war raged on, Cecil watched many of his friends and family join the colours, including his younger brother, Henry Charles, in October 1916 but was shortly discharged. Cecil then joined up in Perth just before Christmas, on the 19th of December. Due to his work skills, Cecil was assigned to the Railway Corps. While training at Blackboy Hill in Fremantle, he was promoted to Sergeant on the 19th of January 1917 and concurrently given his travel orders. He set off from Fremantle on the 29th of January onboard the HMAT Militades.
Cecil arrived at Devonport, England in late March. He was stationed to the 5th Railway Section and commenced his duty at the St Lucia Barracks. In mid May, his unit was transported to France via Southampton, joining the 59th Railway Company. Possession of rail networks was paramount to conducting operations, transporting troops, ammunition, supplies, and wounded. Thus, it was vital that Cecil worked non-stop to provide this service. However, illness plagued him throughout the year. In November, Cecil was evacuated to hospital in England. By April 1918, he was given lighter duties with AIF Headquarters Details in Tidworth. He was then posted to transport duty at No. 2 Command Depot Headquarters. However, illness continued to hinder Cecil’s military service. Diagnosed with chronic ear infections, and working in close proximity to artillery and busy train lines was impossible. He was sent back to Australia in June 1918 was medically discharged.