Frank Ritchie Bullen
Company Quartermaster Sergeant, Australian Imperial Force
Age 14, Class IV: 'Good boy, but not so high as he should be.'
Frank Ritchie Bullen was a student at Alleyn’s until 1906. During this time, he lived in East Dulwich with his parents, his sister and his brother. After leaving school, he volunteered with the British Territorial Force as part of the 25th (London) Cyclist Battalion which specialised in the development of cyclist tactics. Frank volunteered for the battalion for 2 ½ years before he moved to Southern Australia with his wife. He worked as a photographer in Goodwood before deciding to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war. Frank joined the 16th Battalion in November 1914 as a Sergeant and embarked for Egypt a few months later. He served on the Eastern Front for entirety of 1915, joining the Gallipoli campaign and defending the British frontline until the peninsula was evacuated in December. After a short period of rest, Frank was moved to the Western Front with 16th Battalion in June 1916. After moving to France, he actively sought to obtain a commission and was offered one in the British Infantry. However, Frank wanted a commission in Australian Forces, not the British Infantry. As a result, he rejected the offer and remained as a Sergeant with 16th Battalion. He continued to serve on the Western Front for the rest of the war and was involved in action at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the action at Bullecourt in 1917 and the German Spring Offensive in spring 1918. During this time he was promoted to Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS), the Australian equivalent of the British Staff Sergeant. Frank served overseas for a total of 355 days before being discharged in April 1919 and returning home to Australia. For his wartime service, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star and British War and Victory Medal. His long service overseas was considered as deserving special attention and he was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches in April 1919. This commendation saw him issued with a bronze oak leaf which could be worn on the ribbon of his British Victory Medal.