MAJOR JOHN EDWIN SERGEANT
8TH BATTALION AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY
25TH APRIL 1915 AGE 45
BURIED: SHELL GREEN CEMETERY, GALLIPOLI, TURKEY
Major Sergeant was killed by a shell high above Anzac Cove on the first day of the Gallipoli landings. The men of the 8th Battalion Australian Infantry, led by Colonel William Bolton, captured what became known as Bolton's Ridge on this first day. A photograph of Sergeant's grave at the top of a steep precipice with the sea far below illustrates the Australians' amazing achievement. The photograph was taken by Lieutenant Jack Duffy and can be seen on Trevor Henshaw's blog Original graves at Gallipoli. However, they never managed to make much further progress and during the entire nine months the Allies were on the peninsular this position always remained close to the Turkish front line.
Major Sergeant's wife chose his epitaph. It comes from the song Mate o' Mine: music written by the British composer, conductor and violinist, Percy Elliott, words by Leslie Cooke.
We set out together, mate o' mine,
When youth was in its prime,
Life - the path that lay before us,
Life - the hill we had to climb.
We neither of us knew the road,
How long the journey, great the load;
Nor I how deep the debt I owed
To God for mate o' mine!
We set out together, mate o'mine;
We've wended road and hill;
Now it's homeward through the valley
We must wander at God's will.
We neither of us fear the gloam,
Love still shall light the path we roam;
Should you be the last returning Home,
I'll greet thee, mate o' mine!
John Sergeant was 45, a grazier and vigneron who had served in the South African War. He re-enlisted as a Captain on 28 August 1914 and embarked for Egypt on 19 October. It was his wife, Annie, who in the words of the song became "the last returning Home". Her choice of inscription, and the song it came from, sadly encapsulating the unknown journey you set out on at the beginning of married life.