Although he was a natural choice for Australia’s Light Horse, drover Michael Tisdall spent much of the war battling health problems in the Middle East.
Trooper Tisdall’’s appendix proved as much an enemy as the Ottoman Turks and the young Light Horseman was in and out of hospital throughout 1917 and 1918 before being invalided home.
Eighteen years old when he enlisted on April 15, 1916, Michael was initially marked for the 7th reinforcements of the 52nd Battalion. After almost three months training at the 11th Depot Battalion at Enoggera, Private Tisdall was reallocated as Trooper Tisdall of the 24th reinforcements of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment.
He spent a month in hospital from July to August 1917 after an operation to remove his appendix at the 13th AGH at Enoggera and it was almost 10 months after Michael enlisted before he finally embarked for overseas service.
Michael left Brisbane on February 3, 1917 on the Hymettus, disembarking at Colombo on March 24, before resuming his journey to the Middle East on April 11 on the Itria.
Arriving at Moascar on April 30, Michael was placed in isolation until May 14, when he joined the 1st Light Horse Regiment.
Transferred to the 2nd Light Horse Regiment on May 22, Michael was taken on strength of the regiment at Hiseia Crossing on May 24. However, two weeks later, suffering diarrhea, he was admitted to hospital, firstly at Abasum el Kebir, and then El Arish, before being transferred to Cairo, on June 13, where he was treated for a painful appendix scar.
It was late July 1917 before Michael was released from hospital and he was taken on strength of the 1st Light Horse Regiment at Moascar. He rejoined the 2nd Light Horse Regiment at Marakeb as an officer’s batman on September 12, but 12 days later was back in hospital.
Michael had had two operations to remove adhesions from his appendix scar and after leaving hospital was taken on strength of the AIF Canteens in Cairo.
The appendix scar continued to cause problems throughout 1918 and, to make matters worse, Michael was hospitalised with malaria in October in Palestine, contracting dysentery less than a week later.
Weak, under-weight and suffering dizziness, fainting fits and heart palpitations, Michael was marked for return to Australia, with post dysenteric debility.
Although the war had officially ended, the Light Horsemen remained on duty in the Middle East. Initially marked as returning to Australia for a change, Michael embarked on the Leicestershire at Suez on December 22.
The ship arrived in Melbourne on January 22 and Michael, classified as an invalid, was discharged as medically unfit in Brisbane a month later.