A veteran of the Gallipoli campaign, Frank Kasper was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during his first major action of the war, the attack at Pozieres Ridge in France.
The Military Medal did not even exist as a gallantry award when Frank, then aged 20, enlisted in March 1915. It was introduced in March 1916 to recognise the outstanding bravery on the battlefield of soldiers of non-commissioned rank and Frank Kasper, for his actions in July 1916, would have been among its first Australian recipients.
As his citation states, Private Kasper was awarded the decoration:
‘For the brave manner in which he volunteered for the duty and successfully carried despatches repeatedly from enemy trench to Battalion Headquarters under heavy machine gun and rifle fire during the attack on Pozieres Ridge on the 28th/29th July, 1916”.
While Pozieres Ridge may have been the high point of his war service, Frank went on to see a lot more action after that defining moment on the battlefield.
In 1915, he had been working as a plasterer and had to obtain the written consent of his parents to enlist in the AIF. In a handwritten letter signed, HW Kasper and Christina Kasper, the couple from Holland Park in Brisbane said:
“As our son Edward Frank is desirous of going to the front, we give our full consent.”
Frank embarked from Brisbane on July 29 aboard the Aeneas, which stopped briefly in Sydney before continuing on to the Middle East. According to 25th Battalion records, four men died of illness during the voyage.
The ship reached its destination of the Suez on July 29 but it was a further five days before the men were finally able to go ashore.
After training in Egypt during August, the 25th Battalion was landed at Gallipoli on September 11, to reinforce the depleted ANZAC troops.
The 25th had avoided the bloodshed of the last major allied offensive in August, which had been turned back by the Turks, and its men manned the trenches at Gallipoli until the evacuation of the peninsula on December 18.
The battalion returned to Egypt on January 9. It left Alexandria on March 14 and landed in Marseilles five days later, the first AIF Battalion to arrive in France.
During its first major action in France at Pozieres between July 25 and August 7, the Battalion suffered 785 casualties and Frank Kasper was awarded the Military Medal.
Frank was in hospital, suffering sore feet in September, and was then discharged to the divisional base. He rejoined his battalion in January, 1917, and was at the Second Battle of Bullecourt in May where the 25th supported other Australian infantry battalions.
Promoted to Corporal in July 1917, Frank went back to England to the Signal Training School and did not return to France to rejoin his battalion until early January, 1918, as the battalion began an exhausting year on the battlefield.
The 25th Battalion fought to counter the German Spring Offensive in April, and was in action again at Morlancourt in May.
On June 10, Frank was seriously wounded in action, suffering gunshot wounds to the chest and left arm. He was transferred to England and remained in hospital until July 25. He never recovered sufficiently to return to the front and was returned to Australia to be discharged from the Army.
Frank boarded the HT Marathon on November 6 and was on his way home when the Armistice came into effect on November 11, 1918.