Fawkner Cameron Yeates (Sam)
Service No. 3971, Private, 59th Battalion

Graylingwell Military Hospital

In Egypt, Sam was allotted to the 59th Battalion and taken on strength at the end of February 1916. The 59th embarked for Marseilles on 18 June that year, where they were deployed to the Western Front. Following the voyage from Alexandria and a train journey across France, Sam and the 59th found themselves in the frontline within weeks.

At the disastrous Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, they attacked in the first wave, suffering heavy casualties at the hands of German machine-gunners. Along the four-kilometre front of the Australian attack, they had to cross open ground in broad daylight and under direct observation from the German lines.

Sam was wounded in action at Fromelles. With gunshot wounds to his right hand and right thigh, he was taken by ambulance train to Boulogne, then transferred to England for treatment at the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent. On 3 November, Sam was sent to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Weymouth for rehabilitation.
In January 1917, Private Yeates was well enough to return to duty and was attached to the 17th Anzac Light Railway as a fettler. On 13 June he returned to the trenches. On 26 September 1917, Sam was wounded in action during a gas attack and was again hospitalised for about four months, following which he was awarded a welcome six-week furlough in England.

On 8 April 1918, Sam re-joined his unit in France. On 19 June he was wounded in action for a third time—suffering a gunshot wound to the left leg. Transferred back to England, on 4 July he was admitted to the Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester, which had previously been the West Sussex County Lunatic Asylum before being requisitioned by the military at the outbreak of the war. Wounded servicemen from the Western Front arrived at the hospital via train from Dover.

After several months treatment at various hospitals, in November 1918 Sam began communications training in England, including a course of instruction at the Signals School. At the conclusion of his training, he was scheduled for return to Australia and embarked on the hospital ship Orca and arrived back in Australia on 7 April 1919.

Fawkner ‘Sam’ Yeates died at Bairnsdale in 1969.