Kenneth George Vidler, born 1894, near Goulburn in southern New South Wales, was the third child and second son of George Angel James and Matilda Vidler (nee Law). The family moved to northern New South Wales in the early 1900’s and lived with relatives for a short while on the Richmond River, before moving further north to the Tweed River. They settled at Chillingham where two daughters were born. By the First World War the family had moved to Zillmere in Brisbane.
When war broke out in 1914, Kenneth Vidler was eager to go, as he found his employment as a clerk a bit too tame for his liking. He enlisted Australian Imperial Forces in Brisbane on 19 September 1914. After several weeks training he embarked for Egypt on the troopship “Canada”, just before Christmas on 22 December 1914.
After further training in Egypt he was sent to the Gallipoli peninsular in May 1915. Although not in the first wave on 25 April 1915, he was part of the reinforcements in May.
He was in the thick of things on the peninsular for more than three months, when he was wounded on 21 August 1915 with a bullet wound to his left arm. Three days later he was taken off Gallipoli by ship and sent to the Princess Club Hospital in London for surgery. He was later transferred to No1 Auxilliary Hospital at Harefield.
Harefield Park House was used as the No. 1 Australian Auxilliary Hospital from December 1914 until January 1919. Originally it was estimated that the house would accommodate fifty soldiers under winter conditions and 150 during spring and summer. At the height of its use it accommodated over 1,000 beds and had a large nursing and ancillary support staff.[Ref:From <https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/harefield/][Ref: Photographhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/66782262@N05/sets/72157627411217445/with/6165756224/]
Kenneth George Vidler spent months recovering before he was sent to the Western Front in Europe as a driver for transporting ammunition to the Australian Infantry Forces. Soon after his arrival he was involved in an accident, when he ran into another truck, and had to forfeit two day’s pay.
For the next couple of years through the war he was in the motor transport division around Rouen, France and later at the Australian Headquarters at Harefield.
[Ref: Photograph from https://www.flickr.com/photos/66782262@N05/sets/72157627411217445/with/6165756224/]
The ancient city of Rouen on the Seine played a significant role in World War I as it was safely behind the line and became a major logistic centre with numerous depots and hospitals. These were situated on the southern outskirts of Rouen.
Soon after the end of the war Kenneth George Vidler boarded the Australian Transport, ‘Berrima ‘ for return to Australia. He disembarked at Melbourne , and then travelled back to Brisbane where he was discharged from military service on ANZAC Day 1919, a few weeks after his older brother Harold Ernest Vidler.
HMAS Berrima was a passenger liner which served in the Royal Australian Navy as an armed merchantman and troop transport. The Berrima continued in this roll until 18 February 1917, when she was torpedoed. She was towed ashore and repaired. She continued to be of service until returned to P&O service in 1920.
[Ref: Photograph from and information from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Berrima]
He certainly had an adventure. It’s good he survived it. And returned, I hope appreciatuve of the way of life, quiet or no, he and the other soldiers, fought to preserve.
His brother also enlisted and certainly had a very different experience. I will post his story soon.
I never got to talk to any family member who went to WWI, so I don’t really know what they thought about it when they got home. I’m sure they were all very pleased to reach Australia, as Britain nor Europe were not pleasant places to be even after the war.
I have talked to many returned soldiers from World War II, including my father. They all told me you cannot even imagine what it was like.