Written by: Rob Shiels, Assistant Collection Manager, The Workshops Rail Museum
The Workshops Rail Museum was honoured to accept into our collection a recent donation of objects showcasing Staff Sergeant-Major Arthur G Bennett’s First World War experiences.
Born in Goulbourn and later moved to Ipswich, Bennett began working for Queensland Railways in 1909 as an apprentice fitter. He volunteered for the AIF in 1915 and became a drill instructor rising to the rank of Sergeant-Major in the 4th Pioneer Battalion.
Bennett was wounded twice in Belgium from gas and mortar attacks. He spent two years in hospital recuperating from his injuries however these injuries would continue to burden him for the rest of his life. He then returned to his career and worked as a fitter in Hughenden, Mayne Junction and eventually the Ipswich Railway Workshops where he became foreman of the Westinghouse Brake Shop. Bennett served for 51 years in the railways.
The collection contains his service medals, shrapnel, postcards, photographs and souvenirs that Bennett bought back with him from the war. A keen photographer, he took many photos of his larrikin friends that he called ‘the Ipswich Lads’ as there were many other Ipswich men in the 4th Pioneers.
Bennett’s collection will help the Museum to tell the story of railway men who contributed to the war effort, the adventures they experienced journeying to foreign lands as well as the hardships, pain and horror that they suffered both during and after the war.