- Branch of Service
- World War I
- Date of Enlistment
- Place of Enlistment
- Holsworthy NSW
- Other Name(s)
- Known as 'Eric'
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Cuppacumbalong ACT
- Address (at enlistment)
- 'Soglio' via Michelago NSW (previously Tharwa ACT)
- School(s) Attended
- The King's School, Parramatta NSW
- Wool classer / station hand
- Next of Kin
- Son of George Arthur Charles Fane De Salis and Mary St Lawrence Irving De Salis (nee Smith) of 'Soglio' via Michelago NSW
- Burial Place
34 Jerusalem War Memorial Cemetery, Mt. Scopus, Israel (Panel 60)
- Service Number
- Final Rank
- Lance Corporal
- Final Unit
- 2 Machine Gun Squadron, 2 Australian Light Horse Brigade AIF
Died (killed in action) at Tel el Khuweilfe, Palestine, 6 November 1917 aged 26 years. The AWM roll of Honour records his date of death as 5 November 1917.
AWM Roll of Honour Memorial Panel 180, Canberra ACT
Memorial plaque in St John's Church, Reid ACT
Queanbeyan RSL Wall of Remembrance, Crawford St, Queanbeyan NSW
Michelago Public School Roll of Honour
Military Medal awarded posthumously
Eric De Salis was the grandson of the Rev. P.G. Smith of St. John's in Canberra and the god son of William Farrer. Though born at the family property at Cuppacumbalong, he and his family lived for several years at Lambrigg (near Tharwa) before moving to Michelago. After enlisting in August 1915, De Salis embarked for Egypt in December 1915 with the 13th reinforcements to the 6th Light Horse Regiment. In August 1916 he joined the 2nd Light Horse Brigade Machine Gun Squadron (in D Troop) shortly before the Battle of Romani in the Sinai. The machine gun squadrons would move rapidly from position to position, unloading the guns from their pack horses, assembling them and opening fire, often in less than a minute after they got the order to halt. After Romani, the Light Horse battled the Turks towards Palestine and, in March 1917 successfully entered Gaza but were curiously ordered to withdraw.
Water was crucial to the operations of the Light Horse. After Beersheba was captured in October 1917, the next target with sufficient water supplies for the Light Horse was Tel Khuweilfe. On 6 November 1917 the British and the Imperial Camel Corps attacked the Turkish positions at Tel Khuweilfe but met with stiff resistance. According to an eyewitness, De Salis' unit "had to gallop into action to save the flank of the Camel Corps and when they arrived under the hills they got their guns mounted and commenced firing. The Turks were amongst the rocks close by. De Salis was No.1 on his gun and, when firing it, was hit by a machine gun bullet." He died later that day from his wounds. The official history records that the Light Horse machine-gunners "rushed their guns up the hill within forty yards of the Turks, and, although they were shot down almost to a man, their very gallant action caused the Turks to pause" helping to save the Camel Corps' position.
Description - height 5 feet 8 inches, weight 148 pounds, chest size 32-34 inches, fresh complexion, blue eyes, black hair, Church of England.
Peter Procter, Biographical Register of Canberra and Queanbeyan, Canberra, Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra, 2001 (p.75)
AWM Roll of Honour Database
AWM Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Files
Henry Gullett, 'The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine: 1914-1918'
AWM Roll of Honour Circular
First World War Unit Embarkation Rolls
Adrienne Bradley, 'Lance Corporal Eric Fabius Fane De Salis', Quinbean (Vol.5, No.1, April 2012), Queanbeyan & District Historical Museum Society
Rex Cross, 'Bygone Queanbeyan', 1980
Stories from the ACT Memorial, 'Hill of Lambs', ACT Heritage Library www.library.act.gov.au/find/history/stories_from_the_act_memorial
NAA RecordSearch - Series B2455 (First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920)