Harold Campbell Saunders
Serial No. 1997
19th Battalion & 18th Battalion
Harold Campbell Saunders - Information
The Saunders family came to live in Campbelltown in the early 1890s. Harold's parents, William and Sarah, originally came from Tamworth, and after settling in Campbelltown extended their family to 15 children. This included Harold who was born in Campbelltown in 1896. Harold's father had important position as Senior Police Sergeant and Police Inspector. Harold grew up in the area with his many siblings, before his parents moved the family to Braidwood in the early 1900s. When the war began, Harold was still living with his family in Braidwood and working as a bank clerk. When he was 19, he enlisted in the AIF, signing on in Liverpool on the 18th of June 1915. During training, he was posted to the 3rd Reinforcements, 19th Battalion as a Private. He then departed Sydney Harbour on the 9th of August 1915 onboard the HMAT Runic.
Harold and his unit arrived in Egypt and were presently transported to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Here, he was taken on strength to the 18th Battalion on the 29th of September and two days later, was promoted to Lance Corporal. Back in Egypt after the Dardanelles campaign, he was promoted to Temporary Corporal on the 25th of January 1916. In mid March, he left Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France. Harold and his mates were then put into action during the Somme Offensive. During these operations, he was wounded on the 27th of July at Pozières, hit in the chest. Harold recovered quickly, and rejoined his unit in late August. In September, the 18th Battalion were moved out of the fighting to the lines in Flanders. Although this was a fairly quiet section at the time, Harold was wounded a second time. On the 12th of September he was shot in the back. It was a superficial wound, and he was back to duty a week later. Unfortunately, the 18th Battalion were then shifted back to the Somme Sector. Months of endless bombardments turned the battlefield into a moonscape, and with the onset of winter rains transformed into a swamp of mud. Here, he was promoted to Sergeant on the 15th of November.
Harold survived the bitter winter, and in early 1917, he and his unit began chasing the Germans, whom had withdrawn to a new fortified position known as the Hindenburg Line. This resulted in many altercations, including the Second Battle of Bullecourt. On the 3rd of May, the 18th Battalion braved thick barbed wire and enfilading fire striking German defences. Here, Harold was wounded on a third occasion, shot in his right shoulder and receiving a gash across his head. After initial treatment, he was evacuated to hospital in England. He needed a lengthy recuperation and convalescence. In May 1918, Harold was again shipped to France from Folkestone, returning to the 18th Battalion. Sadly, on the first day of the Battle of Amiens, Harold was wounded in action for the fourth time. On the 8th of August, he was hit by machine gun fire in both thighs. A week later, he was evacuated to England and was admitted to the 1st Birmingham War Hospital. Harold was still receiving treatment when the Armistice was announced on the 11th of November. He was finally invalided home a few days before Christmas on the 21st of December 1918. After he returned, Harold got on with his life. He fell in love and married Dorrie Elva Cozens in Sydney in 1924.