On Monday 11 November, at 11am, our School community will come together as we pay tribute to those Australians who have served and sacrificed in war, so that we might live in peace today. As we gather this year, staff and students will hear the story of Felix Gordon Giles.
This year marks the commemoration of the formal signing of the Peace Treaty in 1919, signifying the closure of the Great War. Surviving Australian soldiers were finally allowed to return home to the country which they had sworn to protect. One such soldier was Felix Gordon Giles.
Felix Giles was born in Darwin on 23 November, 1885. He had two younger brothers, both of whom also volunteered for military service in World War I. Felix Giles completed his University Entrance examinations in 1900 at St Peter’s College, which enabled him to undertake an electrical engineering Diploma at the School of Mines.
He joined the Army Reserves in 1908 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He was 28 years old and married when he was called to action in 1914, signing up on 19 August. He began his war service as a Captain in the 10th Battalion.
Captain Giles was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 19 May, but ‘remained with his unit’; it was during his time at Gallipoli that he was first promoted to the rank of Major. After Gallipoli, the 10th Battalion next saw action during the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front, where Major Giles received his first recommendation for a DSO, or Distinguished Service Order. On 24 July 1916, during the Pozieres attack, he successfully led his men through heavy shellfire to their reconnaissance post, during which time he himself was so severely concussed that he later required treatment in England for shell-shock. He could not return to his Battalion until January 1917.
In March 1917 Giles was instrumental in the capture of Le Barque, forcing a German withdrawal from the area. For his actions, he was ‘Mentioned in Despatches’ and awarded a second DSO. After this, he was seconded to the 1st Australian Corps School as a Military Instructor until February 1918 and promoted to the rank of Assistant Commandant.
Felix Giles, a model officer and leader, returned home to his wife and family after demobilisation in 1919, and resumed his civilian work as an electrical engineer. On Monday we will commemorate the service and self-sacrifice of those, like Felix Giles, who willingly confronted the horrors of war, so that Australians might live in peace.
Thank you to Sally Bartz, Teacher of History for contributing the above story.
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior Years