How a pocket book saved the life of Private John Croft at Gallipoli

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A souvenir of the war was received this week by Mr. Frank Catt, of Bulli, from Private John Croft of Woonona. It consisted of the young fellow’s pocket-book, with a sharp-nose bullet embedded in it. A few weeks ago Private Croft was reported wounded, and from this practical message it can be seen how narrowly he missed fatal injury. The message of death passed through his forearm and would have enter his body but for striking the book at an angle. He has sent an earnest request that the sacred trophy be preserved.

– The Globe and Sunday Times War Pictorial Saturday 19 June 1915.

John CroftJohn Hector Croft

(Private, b.1891 – d.1916)

3rd Australian Infantry Battalion

Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli

A number of items are in the Australian War Memorial archives collection relating to the First World War service of 2343 Private John Hector Croft (pictured), 3rd Battalion, Gallipoli.

The collection consists of a pocket book pierced by a Turkish bullet at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

The bullet penetrated Croft’s arm and lodged in the pocket book. Also included is a letter to Mr Frank Catt (a friend of Croft’s), dated 5 May 1915, who lived in Hopetoun Street, Woonona and describes the incident.

In the collection is also a pre-war civilian photograph of the young Bulli soldier.

Croft died aged 25 on board the hospital ship, St George on 27 July 1916 from wounds he received while fighting in France. He was the son of John Croft of Bulli.

Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

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