107 SLATTERY, John Ernest


107 John Ernest Slattery

107 Sapper (Spr) John Ernest Slattery was born in Wellington, NSW.  John was the son of Cornelius James and Emily Julia Slattery – nee Gilbert. The Slattery family were a hardworking pioneering family with convict beginnings. John’s grandfather, also Cornelius, was from Tipperary Ireland, a convict originally transported to Australia with his younger brother Michael in 1833.

Cornelius later made a new life for himself, was granted permission to marry Anne Ward, a free woman in 1844 and after gaining his ticket of leave was granted the purchase of a parcel of land in Wellington NSW and continued to obtain more parcels of land  and left a proud legacy for his family. Cornelius was credited as being the first farmer to raise a successful crop of wheat in the region on only a small land holding in Wellington.

land Grant Cornelius

Cornelius Slattery

John Slattery had three brothers and four sisters and all very close having grown up in the country and no doubt learning the skills attached to work on the land. The family moved from Wellington to the Peak Hill District, NSW, where John was schooled at the convent and Bodangora Public School.

John, and his two eldest brothers Cornelius – ‘Con’, and Robert would later make the move to the city. Oldest brother Con continued his trade skills as a farrier in Pyrmont and the three became locals in the Leichhardt, Lilyfield area. The Slattery brothers remained close, Con would later become the nok on John’s attestation when he enlisted, and in 1911 Robert and John later became involved in a rather ugly scrap and the following ensued.

Slattery Brothers

Published The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday 14 February 1911

Law and punishment was swift and straight forward 100 years ago and unfortunately John would have the charge and sentence recorded, however John didn’t go to gaol and paid all fines under the 1st offenders act and also paid compensation to the policeman.

Like many brave men who later enlisted,  he did not declare his civil conviction on his attestation form. For most young men of the era , common assaults and petty incidents were just that, common,petty and part of city life.

State gaol records


As a member of the 1st Field Engineers, John Slattery served at Gallipoli Peninsula where he was wounded in the head by shrapnel in May 1915. He was transferred to Lemnos hospital then onward to Cairo  and by June he had recovered and returned to the action at Gallipoli. Later sending a letter to his brother Con and describing “some funny things here.”

NLA censored archive
Australian kangaroo hoppers and reference to his ancestral home..Tipperary

On August 7th around the time of the assault on  “Lone Pine” and the “German officers trench” John was hit with a serious gunshot wound to the abdomen and was evacuated to the hospital ship Dunluce Castle for treatment. He died of his wounds the following day, the 8 August 1915, aboard the ship and he was buried at sea on the same day.

On the 8th June 1921 however a letter from the Australian imperial Force Base records had advised his family that the Imperial War Graves Commission headed by its founder Major General Fabian Ware had erected an imperial war grave in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Anzac on Gallipoli Peninsula in his memory. plot 1, row c, grave 40.

Shrapnel Valley Cemetery 1


Published – Sydney Morning Herald – 1st September 1915 – original post and transcript below


“Sapper John Slattery, died of wounds, was a native of Wellington, New South Wales, and was 26 years of age. When the war broke out he and his brother Robert, who were in the employ of the construction branch of the Railway Department, were platelaying at Canberra. They came to Sydney, and were among the first to enlist. They went away with the First Expeditionary Force to Egypt, John as a sapper and his brother as a farrier. Sapper Slattery was one of the first to land at Gallipoli, where he was wounded in the head. After spending about three months in the hospital at Alexandria he again returned to the fighting line, and was again wounded in the head. With other wounded men he was placed on board a transport, bound for the hospital at Malta, but he died before reach ing land, and was buried at sea. His parents reside in Brisbane, and his Sydney home was with his brothers at Ainsworth street, Lilyfield. Farrier Slattery has so far received no injury of any kind.”
Source: nla.news-article15611005

Location on the Roll of Honour

John Slattery’s name is located at panel 25 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial (as indicated by the poppy on the plan).

Plan of Commemorative area showing which panel the name John Slattery's is located

Roll of Honour name projection

John Slattery’s name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:

  • Fri 14 August, 2015 at 8:07 pm
  • Sat 3 October, 2015 at 10:01 pm
  • Thu 3 December, 2015 at 3:57 am
  • Sun 31 January, 2016 at 10:41 pm
  • Mon 28 March, 2016 at 10:42 pm
  • Sun 15 May, 2016 at 1:36 am
  • Sun 26 June, 2016 at 5:09 am
  • Mon 8 August, 2016 at 4:58 am
  • Mon 26 September, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Story copyright©Vance Kelly2015

Sources; AWM, NLA, NAA, Ancestry.com, NSW State Archives


John Slattery had the tattoo ‘ Death before Dishonour’ meaning “You will die before going against anything that you believe in, God, King or Country, or die before you sell out” – this tattoo has been a military tattoo for centuries dating back to the Roman’s and was made popular by US marines in the 1940’s.

Family Links:

Robert Andrew SLATTERY  Farrier – (serv. no. 513) WW1  extensive family research is available online.

John Slattery’s grandfather Cornelius SLATTERY was aged 22 when convicted with his brother Michael of Manslaughter in Tipperary. Both Cornelius and Michael were farm labourers. Cornelius was given his ticket of leave 17th Sep1839 and at St Michael’s Catholic Church, Bathurst on 3rd Jun1844 he married Ann Ward a free woman. She was only 19 years old. They had two children Bridget and Cornelius James. The family were pioneers in the Wellington NSW area – both Cornelius and Ann are buried in the local cemetery. Cornelius left an estate valued at 1295 pounds in 1881. His son Cornelius was written up in the Men of Mark Book in 1888.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/10421/20041220-0000/www.firstfamilies2001.net.au/firstfamily2c8d.html#descendants link for more info if needed.

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