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DARDEL, Aurel Louis (1893-1917) +

DARDEL, Aurel Louis (1893-1917)

Aurel Louis Dardel, the son of James Henry Dardel and Helen nee Thompson of Chaumont, Batesford was born on 13 July 1893. He was a student at Geelong College from 1906 until 1907.

At College, he gained the following academic awards:
1907, 2nd, Geography, Middle 4th Form.
1907, 1st, Arithmetic, Middle 4th Form.
1907, 2nd, French, 3rd Form.

Owing to poor health he left school early, but, working on his father’s property and orchard agreed with him, and his health improved.

He enlisted during World War I in December 1914 as a Private, and left for Egypt in the 13th Light Horse on HMAT A34 Persic on 28 May 1915. He was on Gallipoli until the Evacuation.

A letter he wrote home after the Evacuation was published in the Geelong Advertiser:
‘Yesterday I received thirty-seven letters and five parcels, all top-notchers, and papers no end. I must try and answer all the letters. Glad I don’t have to answer papers. Well, we’ve left Anzac. It was hard to leave. We passed too many cemeteries on our way out, and I’ll never forget the night we left. It was obvious to us for weeks past that we were at a standstill, but how were we going to evacuate. When you realise that the firing-line was about a mile away from the beach, and that the paths consisted mainly of winding saps permitting one man only at a time to pass and in some places so steep that you could touch the footpath in front of you, you will appreciate the job in front of our leaders. The withdrawal on the first night presented few difficulties, but how to get the remainder down on the second night was the trouble. Not a shot was fired. Most of us expected something to happen, but it didn’t. And our warships were there to keep him quiet.

We were at Lone Pine until a week before we left, when we went up to Thompson’s Look-Out. Our first casualty there was a chap who had been injured by a bomb at Lone Pine. He had returned from hospital, and on our last day in the trenches he was on duty behind a closed loophole, when a bullet struck a rivet on the outside of the plate and knocked the head off the inside rivet right into the poor fellow’s eye. He will lose his eye and perhaps both. Wasn’t that hard luck? The remarkable thing was the number of bullets that didn’t hit us over there. About fifty men were making a road when they were shelled with some beautifully placed shrapnel. Being a new crowd they didn’t know the art of dodging, and while they were thinking about it several came right among them, yet not a man was hurt. It seemed marvellous that so many pellets could find a way out without hitting one of them.

We did our cooking for Lone Pine at Brown’s Dip. That was a real death-trap. The Turks knew we did a lot of work there, and they used to shy stick-bombs over. One night they sent about six big eight-inch high explosives looking for any anti-aircraft guns we had there. The first lobbed a long way over where Eric (his brother, Eric Dardel) was camped. Each one came a bit closer, and threw great chunks of earth up where it hit and exploded. You can hear a big shell coming, and if in the open can get about twenty yards away before it lobs, when you would probably only get hurt by concussion. Well, we watched them go safely over us (they were landing 100 yards away), and we only suffered from the falling earth, until we saw the last one coming straight for us. Did we run? I didn’t touch earth for about fifty yards, and just looked round in time to see it whack into the ground behind us, and fortunately for us the durned thing didn’t explode. There’s nothing so funny as to see a man running from shells. Everyone does it, but it’s rare fun to watch. One old stager up at the Pine showed where a bomb knocked a bit off the parapet. He slept all the time. He didn’t see what a man had to be frightened of. But he suddenly changed his mind when he heard a piece of bomb whizzing somewhere in the air and down it came whack on to his toe. Didn’t we laugh! That poor beggar went off with a chastened mind and a very black toe. Altogether we had a beastly time, a good time, and an all sorts of a time all mixed up, and what a funny old mixture it all was. Lot of our fellows got sick with dysentery and jaundice, but I was not seriously affected by either. I only objected to having neuralgia chucked in with it. Yet I would not have missed being there for anything. Occasionally owing to our own negligence or other causes, we were short of provisions. Then again, when someone came back from Imbros with some stores we would be sick through sheer surfeit. We were a callous, indifferent mob that left that peninsula, though I must confess that I felt a bit throaty when I thought of Robbie. We hadn’t too many like him during a bombardment, that’s what tests a fellow. When we went to Thompson’s Post about ten days before we left I took over the Regimental Sergeant Major’s job from there, and though only acting it has been a good experience. We will be bringing our horses up here now and also our reinforcements.’

Dardel left for France in June, 1916 as a 2nd Lieutenant, and subsequently was appointed Lieutenant in 46 Battery, 12 Field Artillery Brigade, on 1 August, 1916. After some time there he was wounded at Noreuil near Bullecourt on 7 May, 1917, and died of his wounds the next day. His brother E W Dardel wrote to his parents about the circumstances of his death: ‘I’ll tell you about Aurrie. He was wounded at Norieul Gully, three miles from Bullecourt. He had a battery there and the ammunition had just come up and he was seeing to it when Fritz put a barrage behind them to stop supplies from coming up and a big piece caught him in the back and took a piece of his kidney off and went through his lung and stopped just under his skin on the other side. That was about 5 am on 7 May 1917. . . . at 12.15 am on 8 May 1917 he died. The 46th Battery put up a decent cross but I’ll get a good one fixed up when I come back with father after this lot is over. The map reference is 25.a.8.6 Le Barque.’

Driver Brown of 46 Battery told the Red Cross Information Bureau:
‘I was with Mr Dardel when he got his fatal wound. It was at Noreuil Gully before Bullecourt sometime in May at midnight. Our infantry had their SOS signals going and the Battery was firing full strength and being at the same time heavily straafed. I had just driven up with a load of shells and in order to get me away quickly, out of the danger zone round the Battery, Mr Dardel was personally helping me to get the shells out when a shell splinter got him in the back. He fell and told me to fetch a stretcher-bearer – he was quite cool. I saw him taken away. His groom, Pte Kreutzmach, was with him when he died. I have seen Lt Dardel’s grave in a Military Cemetery at Grevillers. There is a cross over it with his name on. The grave was well done up.'

His death was reported in the Geelong Advertiser:
Lieut. Aurel Louis Dardel 'Aurie' aged 23 years, late sergeant, 13th Light Horse, dearly loved son of Mr and Mrs J H Dardel of 'Chaumont', Batesford, died of wounds in France on 8th May. He had been on active service for two years'

He is buried at Grevillers British Cemetery - Grave IV.C.15. His letters held in the AWM Collection are descriptive, commenting on conditions on Gallipoli, the dug-outs, food and hunger, also the Evacuation from Gallipoli, also detailed letters from France, covering the time from 1915 until March, 1917.

Five brothers of the Dardel Family attended College. Dardel’s brother, 2/Lt (then Private) Eric Walter Dardel (1897-1954), was awarded the Military Medal, while serving with 24 Battalion. His older brother, Lieutenant Commander James Henry Dardel MSM (1888-1941), died during the Second World War while on service with the Royal Australian Navy, leaving a widow, Daisy Elizabeth Dardel. His other two brothers, Alfred Eugene Dardel (1890-1939), and Frank Roy Dardel (1899-1984), were also students at Geelong College.

Geelong Advertiser carried a story re-printed from The Bulletin de St Blaise, of 4 February, 1918:
‘Descendants of St Blaise Dardels at the British front: We think it will interest the parents and others who know the late Mr James Dardel, of Australia, to quote the following portion of a letter from his son, Mr Henry Dardel, addressed to his parents from Neuchatel, Switzerland. 'My boy was with the artillery in the Gallipoli campaign, in Egypt and in France. He was wounded in May 1917, in the lungs by shrapnel at Bullecourt, and died next day. He is buried at Grevilliers, close to Bapaume. Lt Aurel Louis Dardel, 23 years old. Some time, all being well, we shall go to France; we have a great wish to see again our native land, and above all - Grevilliers. We have another son, Eric Walter Dardel, who is a lance-corporal in the infantry. These two boys set out from here together, and were together when Louis was killed. The elder brother, Henry, was serving before the war in the Australian Navy. He was on the Sydney, the ship which, at the beginning of the war, sank the German vessel, Emden.

To those who did not know Mr James Dardel (1811-1903), uncle of M. Charles Perrier, we should explain that he went out to Australia in 1842. It was he who introduced the culture of the vine into that continent. His son, J H Dardel, born in 1859, completed his studies at Neuchatel and now lives with his family, comprising his wife, five sons and three daughters, in his father’s original home, Chaumont, near Batesford. The M. Charles Dardel referred to is a cousin of Mr J H Dardel, the present owner of Chaumont, Batesford. He is much interested in his young Australian relatives (Mr J H Dardel’s sons now at the front), and hopes they will visit him when on furlough. He says he shall take the earliest opportunity of going to Grevilliers, where Lt. A Louis Dardel was buried. The men of this gallant young officer’s battery erected a cross over his grave, and made a rising sun name plate out of a shell case of his own gun, engraving his name and full details thereon. A photograph of the grave has been sent to his parents - a fortunate circumstance, as the ground has been retaken by the Germans during last week’s operations. A photograph of the grave is to appear in News of the Week.’

Sources: Geelong Advertiser 22 May 1917 p4; Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp22-25 (citing Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Geelong Advertiser (The Bulletin de St Blaise, of 4 February 1918); Photo Pegasus August 1917).''
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