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    Henry Bachtold, DSO, MC (1891 – 1983)

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Henry Bachtolds Medals

1891. Born on 22nd August at Stanningley near Leeds, Yorkshire, England, Henry Bachtold was the son of Heinrich and Ann Elizabeth Bachtold.

1908-1910. Henry Bachtold was a member of the Officer Training Corps at the University of Manchester. He became a graduate of the university, earning a Bachelor of Engineering Science Degree with 1st Class Honours.

1911-1914. Henry migrated to Australia in August 1911 and very soon after his arrival, in Sydney, he became an Engineering Draftsman with the New South Wales Government Railways. Two years later, in September 1914, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. At the time, he was living in the Sydney suburb of Drummoyne. Service in the Officer Training Corps and also a year in the 6th Field Company, Australian Engineers of the Citizen Forces in Australia would have influenced Henry Bachtold’s appointment as a Second Lieutenant upon joining the AIF. His initial posting was to the 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers.

Colour Patch of the 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers

1915. Henry embarked at Sydney in December 1914 for war service overseas and took part in the initial landing at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey on the morning 25 April 1915. He was promoted to Lieutenant the same day and in July was promoted to Temporary Captain.

Henry and a number of the soldiers under his command were each awarded a Mention in Despatches for their work during the landing at Anzac. The report which led to the award reads ….. ‘On 25th April this officer and his crew paddled barrel pliers into the bay under heavy shell fire and then deliberately set to work under a hail of bursting shrapnel and erected the landing stage. This stage was of the greatest value in getting off the wounded and enabled over 1,500 men to be sent off the same day. The men had never before been under fire.’ Henry Bachtold was also awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry that day. In November Henry was assigned to special duty in Egypt and his rank as a Captain was confirmed in December.

1916. After short-term postings in the 2nd Field Company, Australian Engineers and at Headquarters 5th Australian Divisional Engineers, Henry was posted in March to command the 14th Field Company in which he was promoted to Major the following month.

After participating in the construction of a section of the Suez Canal defences in Egypt, the 14th Field Company embarked at Alexandria in June for movement to France. Under Henry Bachtold’s command, the company was engaged in operations against German troops in the Pas-de-Calais Department, northern France from July until October before moving south to join in the fighting in the Somme Department.

1917-1919. Henry Bachtold was awarded a second Mention in Despatches in January 1917 and in March that year, the 14th Field Company still under his command joined in the pursuit of German troops that had withdrawn to a new defensive line known in the British Empire as the Hindenburg Line. He was awarded a third Mention in Despatches in June 1917.

Henry acted as the Commander Royal Engineers, 5th Australian Divisional Engineers on four occasions between April 1917 and January 1918.

Harry Bachtold in FranceIn November 1917 he was appointed as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry as the officer commanding the 14th Field Company during the Battle of Polygon Wood in West Flanders, Belgium in September that year.

The following statement of service was sent to Henry Bachtold’s mother regarding the DSO……….

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In daylight, under fire and under direct observation by the enemy, he marked out the assembly positions for the attack by his brigade. During the attack he personally reconnoitered the whole brigade position, and organised the work of consolidation. His personal courage and skill in the situation were of the highest order’.

In May 1918 Henry was appointed to act as the Commander Royal Engineers, 3sup>rd Australian Divisional Engineers with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and remained in that posting until the end of the war. He was awarded a fourth Mention in Despatches in December 1918.

Henry embarked at London in May 1919 for return to Australia with his wife, Dorothy (née Garner) whom he had married at Chester in Cheshire in the west of England the previous year.

Inter-war years. In civil life, Henry Bachtold resumed his railways career, reporting to the Army in February 1920 that his residential address was “Binda”, Huntleys Point, Sydney. In 1922 he was placed on the Reserve of Officers, Royal Australian Engineers. Department of Railways records indicate that Henry was appointed in October 1923 as the Engineer in Charge of Lifting Appliances on the staff of the Chief Mechanical Engineer and that in June 1932 he became the Works Manager, Chullora in Sydney’s west.

1940-1943. Henry was called up for full-time duty in the Citizen Military Forces in September 1940 as understudy to the Chief Engineer, Eastern Command at Victoria Barracks, Paddington, New South Wales. He became the Chief Engineer in February 1941 with the temporary rank of Colonel.

Henry was the Chief Engineer, 2nd Australian Corps as a Temporary Brigadier from April 1942 to March 1943. After some three months on a supernumerary list, he was placed on the Reserve of Officers in July 1943 with the honorary rank of Brigadier. He then resumed his career with the Department of Railways at Chullora.

1943-1952. In July 1946, Henry Bachtold was appointed as the Railways’ Assistant Chief Civil Engineer, Workshops and held this position until his retirement in November 1952.

1983. Late of the Sydney suburb of Sylvania, Henry Bachtold passed away on 9th May aged 91. He was survived by Dorothy who passed away on 15 January 1983 aged 93.

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