Born in 1879 on Cape Barren Island Tasmania, Francis Thomas Cohen Maynard, or Frank as he was called, was one of 30 known Tasmanian Aboriginal soldiers who served during World War One.
Son of Barron Island ‘native’ John and wife Eva, Frank enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 24 April 1915 and was assigned to D Company, 26th Battalion (infantry), 7th Brigade.
Prior to his military enlistment, Frank worked as a labourer and later as a guard of the wireless station on Flinders Island.
Frank’s medical papers described him as having a dark complexion, black hair, brown eyes. ‘Indian ink marks’ that appeared on his body were of particular interest to the medical examiner who detailed sketches of the cryptic symbols including the Victoria Cross’s distinct VC.
Private Maynard trained at Enoggera internment camp in Brisbane and left Australia on the HMAT Aeneas A60, a ship weighing 10,049 tons that travelled at an average cruise speed of 25.92 kph.
After a stint of training in Egypt, Frank landed in Gallipoli on 12 September 1915 where his battalion was responsible for the defence of Courtney’s and Steele’s Posts, and Russell’s Top.
The battalion withdrew from the peninsula after three months and spent another period in Egypt. Frank left for France in March 1916 and, together with the 28th Battalion, the 26th commenced the first trench raid undertaken by Australian troops on the Western Front on 6 June 1916.
The 26th Battalion went on to fight its first major battle around Pozières between 28 July and 7 August 1916. Private Maynard was killed in action near Sunken Road, Contalmaison, France on 30 August 1916 at age 37.
A pink slip was sent to Flinders Island reading “Urgent Telegram, Private Frank Maynard, killed or wounded”.
Private Maynard now rests not far where he died, in the Sunken Road Cemetery which holds more than 200 soldiers from Australia and Canada.
A poetic death notice appeared in The Examiner newspaper on 6 October 1916 written by his cousin, Clarence W Brown, a sweet tribute for a brave Tasmanian soldier.
MAYNARD — Killed in action on September 30, 1916, Private Frank Maynard, son of Mrs. John Maynard, sen., Flinders Island.
sleeps not in his native land,
But under foreign skies;
Far from those who love him
In a Hero's grave he lies.