Phillip Frederick Edward Schuler was born in East Melbourne in 1889, the son of Gottlieb Frederick, a German migrant, and Sarah.
As part of his compulsory military service, Schuler served in the militia in the 5th Battalion. In February 1911 he transferred to the Australian Intelligence Corps as a second lieutenant, being assigned to the Australian Service Corps a year later.
Schuler was a junior reporter at The Age in Melbourne, while his father was editor. In this role, he volunteered to be the paper’s correspondent attached to the AIF, responsible for photographing, documenting and reporting on the campaigns.
Schuler was 26 years old when he left with the First Convoy to travel to Egypt and Gallipoli.
Schuler embarked from Melbourne on 21 October 1914 on board HMAT Orvieto, the flagship of the First Convoy. After a five-day passage, Orvieto arrived in King George Sound, Albany, on 26 October.
It was on board Orvieto that Schuler met and befriended Charles Bean, the official war correspondent.
The Orvieto reached Suez on 1 December 1914 and passed through the canal. It docked at Alexandria on the morning of 3 December and disembarked troops.
After disembarking in Egypt, Schuler reported on the preparations being undertaken by the AIF and stayed at Mena Camp, outside Cairo. On New Year’s Day 1915 Schuler and Bean climbed one of the pyramids.
As the Australian official correspondent, Bean was able to secure a place at the Gallipoli landing of 25 April 1915. The unofficial correspondents were excluded, but Schuler pleaded with General Sir Ian Hamilton, the expeditionary force’s commander-in-chief, to be allowed to go ashore. With permission finally granted, he arrived on the peninsula in late July, in time to cover the August offensive.
Schuler stayed in Bean’s dug-out at Maclagan’s Ridge and nursed him after he was wounded at the battle of Sari Bair.
Schuler returned to Australia in early 1916. While there, he wrote two books based on his experiences of the campaign, Australia in Arms and The Battlefields of Anzac, which were both published that year.
But he felt he needed to do more. He enlisted with the AIF in Melbourne on 7 April 1916, joining the Headquarters Corps 3rd Divisional Train as a driver.
Within a month Schuler had been promoted to lance corporal. He embarked from Melbourne on HMAT Persic, arriving at Plymouth, England, on 25 July. He remained in Britain until he was transferred to France in November.
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in February 1917 and was posted to 869 Company, while the 3rd Divisional Train, Australian Army Service Corps was at La Crèche. A short time later, his company was transferred to Le Kirlem, and then Nieppe, where he was to be the supply officer for 868 Company. On 24 May he was promoted to lieutenant.
Schuler’s company was responsible for supplying the units fighting at Messines Ridge with barrage rations and pack transport.
On 23 June 1917, Schuler was seriously wounded by a shell burst at Messines, Belgium. Later that day, he succumbed to his wounds. His service record states that he died of gunshot wounds to his left arm, face, throat and right leg.
Schuler is buried at the Trois Arbres Cemetery, Steenwerck, in French Flanders. In an obituary, Bean described his friend as, ‘[a] brilliantly handsome, bright, attractive, [and] generous youngster’.