Ernest Henry Strambini was born in June 1893, and his brother William Stephen Strambini in November 1895, in Ravenswood in North Queensland. Their father had come to Australia from northern Italy in the 1800’s, to Charters Towers and the Queensland gold rushes. In the 1930’s, as was common at the time, Ernest “Anglicised” the name to Stanwell, but he and Bill both served at Gallipoli as Strambinis.
The National Archive records show both Ernest and William as “Mobilised for War Service in August 1914”. They enlisted on 14/8/14 “for service outside Australia” in the 2nd A.N. & M.E.F., and embarked at Cairns on 8/8/14, and disembarked (and were discharged) at Townsville on 18/9/14, on an aborted mission to German New Guinea.
They then enlisted in the AIF in Townsville on 21 December 1914, in the 4th Regiment, 9th Infantry Battalion, with new service numbers (Ernest #1703 and Bill #1705). The WW1 Embarkation Roll (9th Battalion, 1-9 Reinforcements) shows the Date of Embarkation as 8 April 1915 for both brothers, on HMAT Star of England (A15) from Brisbane.
Ernest and Bill both joined their units at Gallipoli on 26 May 1915, as part of the 4th Reinforcement, 9th Battalion, four weeks after the initial landings. Ernest turned 22 less than two weeks after he landed at Gallipoli.
The records show that Ernest was with his unit on the Peninsula from 26/5/15 – 26/6/15 and 23/7/15 – 16/11/15. He was undergoing medical treatment in the period 27/6 to 22/7. On 16 November, the 9th Battalion was withdrawn to Lemnos, and then Egypt, on their slow journey to France. While in Egypt, Ernest was hospitalized for an infected eye, which was then removed and replaced with a glass eye. This led to his return to Australia and discharge.
Bill Strambini went on with the 9th to France, and his Casualty Form shows him as “wounded in the right arm by shrapnel“ at Pozieres on 25 July 1916. He returned home to North Queensland. He did not change his surname, did not marry, and worked for most of his life as an administrator for a large stevedoring company on the Cairns docks.
Ernest returned to his profession as a schoolteacher, retiring in 1959 as Headmaster of Toowong State Primary School. He married Nina Barriskill in December 1920, and they had three children, Barry (John’s father), Maureen and Betty.