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DARDEL, Eric Walter (1897-1954)

DARDEL, Eric Walter (1897-1954)

Eric Walter Dardel was born at Geelong on 12 October 1897, the son of James Henry Dardel and Helen nee Thompson. He was a day student at Geelong College from February 1911 to December 1912. His address at enrolment was Chaumont, Batesford and he had previously attended Batesford State School.

After enlisting (No 1523) on the 12 April 1915 he embarked on HMAT A40 Ceramic on 25 June 1915, and served on Gallipoli and in France with the 24th Battalion. He was awarded the Military Medal, along with five of his comrades, gazetted 27 October 1916. The citation read: ‘For most gallant work under heavy fire as messengers and guides during the attacks of 28/29 July and 4/5 August, their conduct stands out as a fine example of plucky determination and endurance.’

His diary, held by the AWM Collection, noted on 30 June 1916:
'Last night all of our artillery opened up, every gun and the sight was glorious. We could see some of the shells going through the air by the sparks they left behind and the row they made was deafening. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything, although it was on our unlucky day, the 29th. Imagine 264 guns (sixty-six batteries) opening at once, besides trench mortars, machine guns, bombs, grenades and rifle fire.'

He was later Mentioned in Despatches ‘for gallantry at Pozieres’ . After promotion to Second Lieutenant in the field, he transferred to the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) in October 1918. His letters are also held by the Australian War Memorial Collection, including letters home from France describing the Evacuation of Gallipoli, and comments of recommendations (on himself). They also mention various engagements he was involved in from July 1915 until October 1918. He returned to Australia, embarking on 15 May, 1919. His battalion’s battle honours were Somme 1916, Pozieres, Bapaume 1917, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hamel, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-1918, Suvla, Gallipoli 1915-1916, and Egypt 1915-1917.

His brother, Lt Aurel Louis Dardel (1893-1917), who also attended College, died on 8 May 1917, of wounds suffered the day before at Noreuil, and is buried at Grevillers British Cemetery. The oldest brother, James Henry Dardel (1888-1941), who also attended College, died in Melbourne during World War II while serving with the RAN. Eric’s other two brothers, Alfred Eugene Dardel (1890-1939), and Frank Roy Dardel (1899-1984), were also educated at College.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by James Affleck. p164 (citing Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; National Archives); Pegasus May 1913 p6; Pegasus December 1954 p52.
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