Eric was the fifth child of William John Vial and Janet Vial.
He was born in Tamworth on October 7, 1892. He was 24 years-old when he was killed in action in France on November 3,1916.
Who was Eric Vial?
Eric enlisted in Armidale on August 7, 1915 aged 22 years and nine months and entered the camp in Armidale for training.
Prior to his enlistment Eric was a dental mechanic and had his workshop in what was called the "Red Hut" which was situated near the corner of Peel and Fitzroy Streets.
I know relatively little of his early life except that he was involved in the breakaway Rugby League club the "Rebels" and was named in it’s original side.
In fact he was the Captain of the side at time of enlistment, previous Treasurer as well as Secretary of the Darling Hill Pastime Club.
Eric was also a very well liked and well known athlete in the area and was often successful in winning sections of some local athletic competitions.
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At the time of enlistment
On his medical documents he was described as being:
- Height : 6 foot and 1.25 inches.
- Weight: 11 stone in weight.
- Chest measurement: 33to 36 inches
- Complexion: Fair
- Eyes: Grey
- Hair: Light Brown
Eric was assigned to the Third Battalion Australian Infantry as a reinforcement in B Company and sent to Egypt. He departed Australia for Egypt on the troopship "Makarini" on the April 1, 1916. Records show him disembarking in Suez on May 2, 1916.
Eric was then sent to England and was admitted to the Bulford hospital Perham Downs for treatment. He was finally sent to France on August 10, 1916 arriving on the August 11, 1916 and again admitted to hospital in Etaples for the same complaint and then to the 18th General Hospital at Camiers. He was finally discharged from hospital in Etaples and proceeded to join his unit and taken on strength in Belgium in the field on September, 29, 1916.
Eric was killed in action in France on November 3, 1916, just 30 days after arriving in the trenches of the Somme. He was laid to rest in the Bulls Road Cemetery Flers in fine company alongside four other soldiers from the same Battalion who were also killed in action that same day.
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One other interesting fact was that both he and E.C Crouch (DCM) who was the dentist practising in the rooms below his workshop both enlisted, and it would seem that both were the first members of the dental profession in Tamworth to die on active service whilst still engaging in their chosen professions.
As a result of his active service Eric was awarded posthumously the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.