Lieutenant Mordaunt Reid’s story flickers through all significant historical accounts of the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. Official historian, Charles Bean paid him the ultimate accolade stating that he displayed all the attributes of a ‘born leader’ that morning. Yet Mordaunt’s story peters out, with the circumstances of his disappearance later that day consigned to footnotes. Intrigued, I searched old newspapers, soldiers’ dairies, and battalion histories, and tracked down aged relatives to uncover a poignant story that sweeps well beyond Mordaunt’s disappearance.
Mordaunt’s wife, Pauline Dowd, was convinced that he was alive; however, beyond the defence department’s Office of Base Records, there seemed no other agency Pauline could turn to for reliable information. Rather than impotently wait for official news on Mordaunt, Pauline wrote to the newspapers and cabled hospitals overseas seeking answers. In mid-1915 Pauline sailed for Cairo and then later, in 1916, on to London in her unending search for news. Pauline’s main hope centred on Bugler Frederick Ashton, who had disappeared on the same day as Mordaunt, but was subsequently confirmed as a prisoner-of-war. His letters confirmed that there were also other Australians held as prisoners. Pauline was convinced that Mordaunt was one of them.
Discover Mordaunt and Pauline’s moving story in Scott Bennett’s ‘The Nameless Names: Recovering the Missing Anzacs.’ Available in bookshops on 29 October 2018.