234 Archibald Evatt Bland was born in 1885 in Gloucester England, the youngest of 4 boys and his sister Ellen, to parents Samuel Bland a journalist and Emma Bland – nee Evatt.
Arch at 16 was schooled at Dean Close Memorial School in Cheltenham, and was a talented football player, having played inside forward for the Gloucester City Football Cub.
At age 25 he arrived in Australia in May 1911 on the “Otway” from London. His occupation at the time was as a Porter. Shortly after settling in New South Wales he had met Belle (Isabella) Emery from Hamilton NSW and they were married in 1912.
Like other fellow sappers Reynolds, Taylor, Phillips and Ogilvy, Arch and Belle were living at the popular beachside haven of Manly.
The call to war in 1914 would bring their idyllic Australian lifestyle to a halt.
When Arch enlisted in September 1914 he was nearly 30 years of age, noted as an engineer, he later embarked with 1st FCE Reinforcements under Lieut. Henry Bachtold. The 1st Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, aboard HMAT Berrima (A32) on 22 December 1914. On board Arch formed his closest friendships with fellow sappers 237 Evelyn Lloyd, 230 Robert Osborne Earle and 242 Thomas Cook.
Arch Bland served at Gallipoli the entire time , neither sick or wounded.
‘The Water Carrier’
This image of Arch Bland now bares the title “The Water Carrier” .
This distinctive photo of original sapper Arch Bland carrying water along Bridges Road at Gallipoli captures the essence of the hard working sapper. The sling beam bending under the weight of the water filled tins across his shoulders, his measured stride as he bears the load on the uneven track, his casual gaze ahead as if his mind is elsewhere, and off course his signature look… a forage style cap worn to the side. For Arch Bland this was just another day at the office, and like his good mate Evelyn Lloyd he never had a sick day the entire time at Gallipoli.
The photo above although cited by the AWM as maker “unknown” , was possibly taken by his good mate fellow sapper Evelyn Lloyd.
The photo below from the Bob Lundy collection also shows Arch Bland centre standing, unmistakable with his trademark look.
The Battle of Pozieres
The men of the 1st FCE were about to see battle like they had never seen before, Gallipoli quickly became a distant memory and within 4 days the Engineers had suffered casualties in numbers like never before. The entire Australian and British Forces at this time were suddenly faced with the real possibility of certain death. Pozieres would be two weeks of pure hell.
Australian official historian Charles Bean, declared that the Pozières ridge “is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth.”
Within the first four days the return lists for the engineers prepared by Lieut. Robert Osborne Earle for Major Richard Dyer outlined the devastation at what was called ‘Chalk Pit’ .
The Major was a hardened Gallipoli veteran, famous for his single handed efforts such as ‘Dyer’s Crater’ and no stranger to putting him self at great risk. His praise and regard for his company of men during this difficult time and the outstanding work they employed under extreme conditions was recorded in the units war diary.
Wounded between the 22nd and 26th July 1916 were Fourteen of the originals including Archibald Bland and his close friend Evelyn Lloyd.
Also wounded was 88 George Casburn, a gun shot wound to the right hand and shoulder and 163 William Thomas Rice also a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Sadly 58 Patrick Hirst was killed in action.
29 Bob Lundy recorded in his diary on the 23rd July, the casualties and the devastation of the day noting that there were dead laying all along the track and every inch of ground was just shell holes.
On the 23rd July 234 Archibald Evatt Bland and 50 Lionel Fuller – Burton both died from their wounds.
Archibald Bland is Buried at Puchevillers British Cemetery, France (Grave Ref: I.F.53), he is also commemorated on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra (Panel 23), also on the Manly War Memorial, a suburb of Sydney and on the Gloucester War Memorial situated in Gloucester Park.
100 years have past and the Gloucester Football Club still honours and remembers their original young player Arch Bland just as we will always honour and remember our brave ANZAC Archibald Evatt Bland. Link to Gloucester City Football Club Tribute
Story – copyright©VanceKelly2015
Portrait kind permission Manly Library NSW – John MacRitchie
Bob Lundy Collection courtesy of Bruce Hodge
AWM image – attributed to Evelyn Lloyd
Sources: AWM, NAA, NLA, Manly Library NSW