7) John Francis Coyle – On the Subject of War

We are always most proud& grateful to our Pa, John (‘Jack’) Francis Coyle, for his gallant World War One service, over 4 plus years at Gallipoli, the Western Front & Belgium.

And if not for his  bravery, adaptability & skills & courage – we would not be here.

But Jack was haunted by what he had seen & experienced. Like many others he ‘did not talk about the war’ & took on a harsh reputation that did not belie his true spirit.

The young men of Australia had to become fighting soldiers in the horrendous circumstances (& most probably lived with what we now know as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). If they were not diagnosed with ‘Shell Shock’ at the time, they would have internally harboured the horrors & guilt associated with having seen & performed many barbarous acts of war.

Later & only in writing, John Francis Coyle had a chance to reflect.

In his own words……

Having served overseas with the first AIF during 1914-1918, I would like to touch briefly upon “The Subject of War”.

You know folks, there is no problem solved by war, neither is there any dispute settled, nor any high purpose achieved by it. But… a legacy of conflict, ruin, debt, distress, economic dislocation and international strife follows in its wake.

I well remember, in fact how could I forget, what happened to many of my companions during and after the 1st World War:- (I prefer to term it “The Butchers carnival of 1914-1918)

Some of them came back cripples and some drunkards, and some with distorted twisted faces and twisted minds; And many of them came back to cough away their lives and die in the years that followed.

Whilst 62,000 Australians never came back at all.

So, it can safely be said that war – in its grim reality the sadness and dreadful trail of destruction it leaves – serves no useful purpose whatsoever.”

Spoken by the – ‘The Looney Lieutenant’  “

(Intended “To be spoken into Denny’s Tape Recorder”)

  • this was never dictated but written by Pa Coyle for the purpose of letting us know what he felt of the undertaking he had volunteered for. To defend the Commonwealth of Australia & the associated British Lands & Allies.

ImageJohn Coyle & “a little sweetie” (his caption) – Peacekeeping in Belgium 1918


John Coyle collected many photographs still held by our family –

of cobbers and mates and cousins and kin –

those who also served in Gallipoli & the Western Front,

Officers and NCOs 4th A.M.G.Bn. S.S.Suevic - 1919

Quite a few of those did not make it back to Australia’s shores…

Lest We Forget

Information can be now found at DiscoveringOurAnzacs.

There are more photos & links there to all serving WW1 personell – please contact if you have a connection through the 13th Battalion, 45th Battalion or the 12th Machine Gun Company (& later 4th Machine Gun Battalion).

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn…

We will remember them..


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