Devonport High School Teacher Shelley Hollister researched Lance Corporal Edward Piper for the Frank MacDonald Memorial Study Tour.
In September 1916, Edward Piper, 29, a single man from Wesley Vale, Tasmania, heeded the call for reinforcements in Europe and left for the Great War after signing up with the 12th Battalion/ 25th reinforcements.
Edward would go on to fight with the 40th Battalion through a number of well-documented battles including Morlancourt (28-30 March 1918) in which there were 214 casualties and 46 deaths. The fighting in the Somme in March 1918 saw the battalion face 493 casualties with 146 killed. In August and September, the battalion helped to drive the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line which resulted in 475 killed, 1714 wounded (including gassed). Edward must have impressed with skill, bravery or leadership as after only four months with the battalion he was promoted to Lance Corporal. But all was not good for Edward during these months as he was sent to hospital on two occasions, the first time with gingivitis (most likely a direct result from his tooth decay discovered during enlisting). This gum infection was severe as he was kept in hospital for two weeks before being discharged back onto the front. The second time Edward was sent to hospital was for ‘pyrexia’ (raised body temperature and fever) but he was discharged after one day.
After two years of active service, Edward Piper was killed in action in France on 25 August 1918.