John William Stewart Lucas
Divisional Ammunition Column & Field Artillery
John William Stewart Lucas - Information
John was a child of Percy Charles and Eliza Ann Lucas. John was their first child, born in Balmain on the 9th of July 1870. Sadly, when he was just 2 years old, he lost his mother. In 1875, John’s father got remarried to Mary Elizabeth Stewart. The following year, the family suffered another tragedy, when John’s 3 year old little sister passed away. Percy and Mary then welcomed a daughter Emily Eliza in 1876. Unfathomably, John’s stepmother, Mary, then passed away in 1889. Percy was once again left a widow with children to look after. In 1890, he remarried Mary Ellen Petersham. Percy and Mary added to their extended family and eventually settled down on Bertswood in Ingleburn. In 1894, John married Estelle Barratt, and moved to Spring St in Sydney. Just after Australia declared war on Germany, John applied for a commission with the AIF on the 18th of August 1914. He was appointed Major and assigned to a Divisional Ammunition Column. He was then sent abroad upon the HMAT Argyllshire, which departed Sydney on the 18th of October 1914.
John disembarked in Egypt, and shortly left to join the MEF at Gallipoli on the 20th of April 1915. After the infantry landed, it was vital that the artillery were put in place to provide cover and destroy defences. John then led his men, ensuring that artillery units had their necessary munitions. Conditions on the Peninsula were terrible. As a result, John began feeling unwell, reporting sick with gastritis. In early October, he was evacuated to Egypt to the 1st Australian General Hospital in Heliopolis. At the end of the month, he was transferred to Divisional Artillery and sent back to Gallipoli. On the 3rd of November, he was attached to the 4th Battery. Soon the campaign was called off, and he was taken back to Alexandria on the 27th of December. He returned to the Division Ammunition Column at Zeitoun in early January 1916. However by the end of the month, he was again transferred to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade at Tel-el-Kebir Camp, and later, the 5th Division Artillery. On the 12th of March, John was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and temporarily commanded the Brigade. In June, he was shipped from Alexandria to the Port of Marseilles in France.
John and his men provided artillery support for operations on the Western Front. Towards the end of the year, the weather turned bitterly cold. At Guillemont in early December, John reported sick with influenza. A week later, he was evacuated to England, and in mid January, was granted sick leave. Unluckily, in March, John was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital with paratyphoid. When he recovered, he was transported back to France. On the 19th of April, he was made commander of the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column. However, his health continued to decline. In June, he reported to the Red Cross Hospital in Rouen with trench fever and debility. Here, he went before a medical review board and was granted three weeks sick leave. In July, John was evacuated from Boulogne to London. The Medical Review Board proposed that it would be inappropriate for John to return to duty in France. He was then invalided to Australia on the 10th of September 1917. He was suffering with the effects of influenza, paratyphoid and having a prolonged fever from various infections. When he reached Australia, he was admitted to the 4th Australian General Hospital in Randwick. Here, he was also diagnosed with neurasthenia, a form of shell shock. He had a heavy pulse, ear tremors and felt a wobbly on his feet. Sadly, his war experience would continue to impact his health for many years to come.