Brief Tale – Joseph Saunders

A Brief Tale of Private Joseph Saunders – Service no. 164
Saunders FileJoseph Saunders was born 1893 Manly, and lived his short life at 15 Surfers Parade, Freshwater NSW.
• Joe Saunders joined the Australian army in 1914 at the age of 21.
• He served with the 14th Field Ambulance of the Australian Army Medical Corps.
• His service number was 164, he was one of the first to volunteer from Freshwater, for what he thought would be the greatest adventure of his lifetime.
“Iodine” Joe as he was later to be known, soon found himself at ANZAC Cove Gallipoli, 25 April 1915.
He worked hard as one of the many stretcher bearers attending to the wounded and dead, at Gallipoli … transporting them away from the front line back to the makeshift field hospitals on the beach.
Iodine Joe – Never Carried A Rifle But Was A Freshwater Hero.
• Nephew Eddie Saunders of Freshwater, (now the Gold Coast) tells the story that “Iodine” Joe, never carried or used a gun, his main weapons of war against the Turks and later the Germans were buckets of “iodine and wads cotton wool”. He was one of the last to be evacuated from Gallipoli.
• “Iodine” Joe, with his unit was soon fighting on the battle fields of France in 1916. Joe continued to be a first responder to the many casualties suffered in the fierce trench warfare that this brutal war continued to produce.
Despair Set In – But Joe Keeps on Going
Eddie Saunders said that Joe in his letters back home to his Mum in Freshwater, was proud of the work he was doing … saving many lives, but at the same time was also in despair with so many dying in his arms.
Joe was never to see his beloved Freshwater again, with only a few months to go before the end of the war, Private Joseph “Iodine” Saunders died from wounds he suffered from an enemy “hand held” bomb dropped from a German warplane exploding near him … 20th May 1918, Somme France
Private Joseph Saunders is buried with thousands of other young Australian men at “DAOUS” Communal Cemetery, near the Somme, France. Eddie Saunders also tells us that his mum was keenly planning Josephs anticipated return home by fattening up two chickens, which was Joe’s favorite meal. Joe’s mother Mary remarried taking the name of Mary Mann and moved to Queenscliff.
As there were no bodies to bury “Trees” were planted in Soldiers Ave., Freshwater, by the families, in their honour and to help the family and love ones grieve.

A Tree to Honour His Service – Soldiers Ave
Joe’s tree was planted in “Soldiers Ave of Honour” in about 1923 (No. 12 Soldiers Ave.) along with a silver plaque alongside his tree – the original plaque is still there today. His plinth and plaque were refurbished in 2015 … with nephew Eddie flying down from Brisbane to attend the re-enactment on the 18th April 2015  and laid a wreath on behalf of the Saunders family.
His Last Resting Place to Far from Home
Joe Saunders is buried with many other Australian Soldiers at:
Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France
His grave-site in France states in “Additional information”:
Private Saunders, Joseph Service No. 164, – Son of Mary Mann of “Eureka”, Crown Rd., Queenscliff, NSW Australia.

Joe Saunders grave site Gallpoli

Lest we Forget

This short story was researched by Sean Rout 2015

The full family story to be posted here late 2016 … researched by Wendy Machon. If you could add to Joe’s story please email at our web address or