Hector William Cowling
Service Number 1660

Gallipoli was only the beginning of the war for Hector Cowling, who went on to fight on the Western Front where he was wounded in action three times before the end of 1917.

Hector was a 24-year-old farmer from Beechmont, then known as Beech Mountain, when he enlisted in May 1915, joining the second reinforcements of the 26th Battalion which had been raised in Brisbane a month earlier.

He arrived at Anzac Cove on October 12, almost six months after the initial Gallipoli landing in April.

As the last major Allied offensive had been launched in August and failed, the 26th Battalion played an entirely defensive role for two months before it was withdrawn from the peninsula on December 12.

Hector returned to Alexandria in Egypt in early January 1916, where he remained until mid-March when the battalion embarked for Marseilles in France.

On June 6, together with the 28th Battalion, the 26th took part in the first trench raid by Australian troops on the Western Front during the war.

Hector was wounded in action for the first time on August 5, suffering a gunshot wound to the arm, during the battalion’s first major battle near Pozieres between July 28 and August 7.

On September 4, after being discharged from hospital, Hector began training at Machine Gun School.

He remained at the Machine Gun Corps base depot at Camiers until January 1917 when he was hospitalised with mumps.

Discharged from hospital to the base depot in early February, Hector was taken on strength with the 7th Machine Gun Company on February 19.

“Gallipoli was only the beginning of the war for Hector Cowling.”

Wounded in action three times.

A month later, he was wounded in action for the second time, suffering a gunshot wound to left thigh on March 21. This time Hector was evacuated to England and was treated at a number of hospitals before being discharged on July 26 for two weeks’ furlough.

Hector spent the next two months at Perham Downs in England where he continued to train until early October, when he returned to France.

Only one day after rejoining his company in the field, Hector was wounded in action for the third and final time.

Suffering a severe gunshot wound to the right groin, he was evacuated to England where he endured a lengthy recovery.

Hector never returned to the front and in January 1918 was recommended for discharge for a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

He returned to Australia on the Osterley in April and was discharged from the Army on May 18.

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