The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster
 

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Edwin Johnson Carter

CARTER, Edwin Johnson

Edwin Johnson Carter was born in Brunswick, Victoria, Australia in June 1884 to Joseph Carter, originally from England, and Fanny Johnson. Edwin was the eldest of five children. The family lived in Nullawarre in south-west Victoria, about 250 kilometres from Melbourne, where Joseph was a ‘Storekeeper’. Living in the same district was James Samuel Burleigh and his family, from Florencecourt in County Fermanagh and the history of the two families became interlinked, partly through RMS Leinster.

In October 1906 two Burleigh nieces, Rebecca and Mary Anne, daughters of James Samuel’s brother William, emigrated from Florencecourt to Melbourne. The girls moved to Western Australia, where Mary Anne died in 1908 and Rebecca then appears to have moved back to Victoria. In 1910 Edwin Carter’s sister Beatrice and William Ferguson Burleigh, son of James Samuel, were married in Nullawarre by the local Presbyterian Minister. (In 1921 another of Edwin’s sisters, Gladys Carter, married another Burleigh cousin, Cecil James). Further connections were made between the families when Edwin Johnson Carter became engaged to be married to Rebecca Burleigh.

However, before they married, Edwin enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force in January 1916. Travelling on HMT Euripides he reached Alexandria in May, then disembarked in Plymouth in June and was in the field in France with the 29th Battalion in September. Over the next two years he was twice in hospital with bronchitis and was wounded in action on 9 August 1918. He was invalided to the UK with gunshot wounds to his back and was sent to the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent, a Canadian military hospital. On 28 September he was given leave, with instructions to report to No 4 Com Depot on completion.

It would appear that Edwin Carter spent his leave in Ireland visiting his future in-laws in Co Fermanagh. Returning to England on RMS Leinster on 10 October he was accompanied by his future brother-in-law, William Alexander Burleigh, who was going to visit his injured brother in hospital. Neither Carter nor Burleigh survived the sinking, though both bodies were recovered. Edwin Carter was buried in Grangegorman military cemetery, after a military funeral with a firing party and a bugler. A Memorial Service was held in his honour in the Methodist Church in Nullawarre, where he had been a lay preacher prior to his enlistment. His very complete military records detail the contents of his recovered kitbag, including letters, diary, photos, camera and bible, which was returned to his mother in Melbourne in April 1920.

Rebecca Burleigh married George Standish Edwards in Queensland in 1920. George had been born in Liverpool, England but had emigrated to Australia and enlisted in 1915, also fighting in France. They lived near Roma in Queensland where George was a storekeeper and farmer. Rebecca lived until 1931.

 

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