Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

05 August 2011

Private William Heyer of Upper Sturt

William Heyer was the second and youngest son of William Heyer and Mary Ann Heyer (nee Zachariah). He was born at Upper Sturt on 19 July 1893. The family lived at Waverley Ridge near Crafers before the war, and William junior worked as a gardener. He and his brother Harry had five sisters, Blanche, Pearl, Maggie, Marion and Thelma.

His older brother Harry, who worked for SA Railways, had enlisted in September 1915, and was already training in England when William enlisted on 2 October 1916. After a few weeks training William was allocated to the 11th reinforcements to the 32nd Battalion, a mixed SA/WA unit and embarked at Adelaide aboard the 'Afric' on 7 November 1916.

He disembarked at Plymouth with the rest of his unit reinforcements on 9 January 1917, after which they trained at the 8th Training Battalion at Hurdcott in Wiltshire before leaving England for the front via Folkestone.

After passing through the 5th Australian Division's Base Depot, William and his fellow reinforcements were taken on strength of the 32nd Battalion at on 14 April 1917, just before the unit went back into the trenches near Haplincourt in the Pas de Calais, France. William was allocated to A or 'Ack' Company. After rotations into the front line near Vaulx and Lagnicourt, the battalion was relieved and sent to the 5th Army Rest Camp at Bapaume for a couple of months rest. While in rest camp, William heard of the death of his brother Harry, who died of wounds following the Battle of Messines, and William tried to locate his Harry's grave.

The 32nd Battalion did not return to the front line again until late September, when it attacked at Polygon Wood near Ypres, Belgium during the Battle of Menin Road on 27 September 1917. After a short rest they were back in the line at nearby Zonnebeke on 13 October when they were very heavily shelled. William was hit in the back of his shoulder but survived to be evacuated to hospital in Bristol four days later. After a move to Dartmouth he was given furlough for a couple of weeks in late January 1918, but reported late and was charged. He was merely admonished. As his shoulder was still sore, he worked at several depots around Salisbury Plain before suffering from a severe attack of tonsilitis in late February. He needed further time to recuperate from his wound, so didn't return to France until late July 1918.

The 32nd Battalion was involved in the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918, and the subsequent operations pushing the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line in August and September. The battalion participated in the attack across the St Quentin Canal sector of the Hindenburg Line on 29 September 1918, the unit's last major action of the war. Unfortunately, 250 casualties were suffered by the battalion during the battle, and William was killed in action during the heavy fighting.

He was buried at the Bellicourt British Cemetery, France. His name is inscribed on the Upper Sturt Methodist Church Honour Board, the Aldgate Cross of Sacrifice, and the South Australian National War Memorial.

Photograph: Courtesy State Records of South Australia

27 February 2011

Company Quarter Master Sergeant Leonard Garfield Moody of Blackwood

Len Moody was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, in 1887. It is not clear when he emigrated to Australia, but he was living in Blackwood just before the war. He was very active in the Blackwood community, being the correspondence secretary of the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Club and secretary of that club's literary society, and a member of the Blackwood Rifle Club. He was well-known as a joker and talented pianist, and was a master of ceremonies at many Club events such as dances.

Len enlisted on 30 June 1915, and gave his occupation as architect, and his next-of-kin as his sister, who still lived in Yorkshire. He joined Ack Company of the 32nd (SA/WA) Battalion and was promoted to the rank of corporal well before the battalion sailed for Europe, probably as a result of his age and leadership skills which must have been obvious from the day he joined.

The battalion sailed in November 1915, and after a short stop in Egypt during which he was hospitalised for three weeks with dysentery, they disembarked in the south of France and entrained for Calais then sailed to England for training at Codford. The battalion returned to France in late June 1916, and were initially allocated to the so-called 'nursery sector' around Armentieres.

On the evening of 19 July 1916, three days after entering the front-line for the first time, the 32nd Battalion attacked the German trenches near Fromelles. Ack Company were in the first wave, and initially captured the German trenches opposite, but during the early morning of 20 July became surrounded, and had to charge back to their start trenches to avoid capture. Many were killed, wounded and taken prisoner, the 32nd Battalion suffering 718 casualties, more than 90% of the unit fighting strength. The 8th Brigade and the 5th Division, of which it was part, were taken out of the line as a result, and could not be used again for offensive operations until well into 1917. The day after the Battle of Fromelles, in the wake of the long casualty lists, Len was promoted to lance-sergeant.

A month later, Len was hospitalised for several weeks, and then promoted to sergeant in October 1916. After several more weeks in hospital with influenza in December 1916, he rejoined the unit on Christmas Eve 1916.

In early 1917, the 32nd Battalion was involved in the follow-up of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg line. In July 1917, Len was promoted to company quartermaster sergeant (or CQMS), responsible for the practical aspects of the supply of Ack Company with rations, ammunition and water (and rum). The only major battle the unit was closely involved in during 1917 was the Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium on 26 September.

The 5th Division was in reserve during the German Spring Offensive of 1918, but it and the 32nd Battalion were involved in the Battle of Amiens in August 1918, and the operations against the Hindenburg Line that followed. Notable amongst these was the battalion's role in the capture of the area around Peronne in early September 1918.

After his discharge in Adelaide in July 1919, Len married Marion and lived in Gosford, NSW, where he was known as one of the 'Big Four' local identities. He was secretary of the 'Jusfrute' factory in West Gosford in the 1930's, and trustee and secretary of the Brisbane Water Returned Soldiers and Citizens Club in 1940. He enlisted as a private in the Volunteer Defence Corps during the Second World War, serving between 1943 and 1945.

Len visited Adelaide to attend battalion re-unions and march with his battalion on ANZAC Day. He died in 1966. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial.
Photograph: 'Second to None, A Memorial History of the 32nd Battalion AIF 1915-1919', p. 216

10 February 2011

Gunner Horace Woodrow Hilton of Blackwood

Horace Hilton was a son of Joseph Woodrow Hilton and Eliza Hilton (nee Dix) who married in Clarendon in 1877. The following year, Joseph became the lighthouse keeper at Point Lowly in the north part of Spencer Gulf near Whyalla, but Horace was born in Clarendon in 1893, probably because Eliza would have spent the last part of her pregnancy with her parents or parents-in-law rather than at an isolated lighthouse keepers cottage.

Horace had only been a mounted constable for four months when he enlisted in the AIF on 1 November 1915, by which time his father had retired and his parents had moved to Blackwood from their last post at Cape Banks near Carpenters Rocks in the south east of SA. He was allotted to the 14th reinforcements to the 9th Light Horse Regiment, which sailed from Adelaide on 10 February 1916 on the Warilda.

The Warilda arrived in Egypt in March 1916, and Horace found himself re-allocated to the artillery, joining 15th Field Artillery Brigade (5th Australian Division) in April. In June they sailed to Marseilles, then entrained for Le Havre on the Channel coast when the brigade first went into action.

In February 1917, Horace was transferred to 12th (Army) Artillery Brigade when the 15th Field Artillery Brigade was disbanded, and served with it as a member of 112th Howitzer Battery. On 21 March 1918, during the height of the German Spring Offensive, Horace's battery was heavily shelled, and he was wounded in the right arm.

He returned to duty on 11 July 1918, and his battery continued to support the allied offensives that ended the war. Following the end of the war he was employed as an artillery wagon driver. He left Australia to return to Australia in May 1919 and he must have returned to the south-east of the state, as the Advertiser records that he was welcomed home in Mount Gambier on 18 July 1919. He was discharged the following month.

After the war, Horace married Effie Florence. Horace and Effie must have lived in Myponga for some time, as they are both buried in the Myponga Uniting Church cemetery. Horace died in 1962, aged 62, and Effie in 1980 aged 89. Horace's name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial.

Photograph courtesy of the Australian War Memorial (E02796) shows Horace (centre, facing camera holding artillery shell) on 31 July 1918. The photographer is unknown, but Captain CEW Bean, the official historian, visited the battery that day.

03 January 2011

Lieutenant Cecil Vernon Wickens of Blackwood

Cecil Wickens was a son of Walter Henry Wickens, and was born in Blackwood in 1889. Cecil attended Coromandel Valley and Sturt Street Public Schools and Adelaide High School, spending three years in the senior cadets. In 1906 at the age of 17, he started with the Australian Mutual Provident Society as a junior clerk. Before the war he was active in the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Boys’ Club, the Blackwood Football Club and the Coromandel 1st XI cricket team. He was also one of the great 'Big Three' ruckmen of the Sturt Football Club.

Cecil was one of the first to join up from the Blackwood district, enlisting on 19 August 1914, only 15 days after Great Britain declared war on Germany. He joined Ack Squadron of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment which formed at Morphettville and following his promotion to Lance Corporal on 13 October 1914, embarked for Egypt with the rest of the Regiment a week later.

The 3rd Light Horse initially deployed to Egypt and from 9 December 1914 until 9 May 1915 was engaged in training at Maadi and Heliopolis. On 12 May 1915 the Regiment, having left their horses behind in Egypt, landed at ANZAC. Within a week they were defending Pope's Hill against the massive Turkish assault of 18/19 May, and during the August offensive attacked from Quinn's Post. On 5 September 1915, Cecil was promoted to Sergeant and was simultaneously appointed as acting Regimental Sergeant Major. On 13 December 1915, the Regiment evacuated from Gallipoli and disembarked at Alexandria and returned to their previous camp at Heliopolis between Christmas and New Year's Eve, becoming part of the Western Frontier Force. In March 1916, Cecil was promoted simultaneously to Warrant Officer Classes Two then One to formalise his appointment as Regimental Sergeant Major. In May 1916, Cecil, along with many other members of the Regiment, took an opportunity to transfer to the newly formed 4th Australian Division Artillery, currently training in Egypt in preparation for deployment to France and Belgium. After a stint at the Artillery Training Depot, he embarked for the United Kingdom in early August 1916 where he joined the 21st Field Artillery Brigade.

Following completion of his training, Cecil joined the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade headquarters in France in April 1917, and was promoted in the field to Second Lieutenant on 8 October 1917. Less than a month later he was severely gassed, and had barely returned to duty in mid-December when he was transferred to a training depot in the United Kingdom where he spent the rest of the war, including a promotion to Lieutenant in August 1918. He returned to Australia in January 1919 and his appointment as an officer was terminated in April 1919.

After the war, Cecil married Vera and returned to work at the AMP Society where he took over the role of new business manager in the South Australian state office. Over the next few years, Vera gave birth to two sons (Ian and Peter) and three daughters (Peg, Patricia and Judith). In 1935, he was transferred to the Western Australian office as company accountant and the family lived in Nedlands. During the Second World War, Cecil joined the 1st Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps between 1942 and 1944. His son Ian served in the RAAF during the war. Cecil was promoted acting Manager of the Perth office in 1945, before being promoted to manage the South Australian office in 1945, when the family lived in Tusmore. Cecil was a keen golfer and bowler, and a member of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron.

Cecil died on 15 December 1946 aged 57 years, after a short illness, and was buried at Centennial Park. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial and the Sturt Football Club Honour Board kept in the Unley Museum.

Photograph: Courtesy of the State Records of South Australia

31 December 2010

Lance Corporal Alfred George Sinigear of Blackwood

Alf Sinigear was the only son of Thomas George Wintle Sinigear and Ellen Sinigear (nee Rowe) of Blackwood. He was born at Norwood in 1897, and was educated at Coromandel Valley Public School and at the Adelaide High School in Grote Street, Adelaide. He served in the senior cadets for three years with the 76th Battalion and after his schooling worked as a clerk for Elder, Smith & Co. Before the war he was active in the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Boys’ Club, including its literary society and basketball team, and he was also secretary of the Blackwood Football Club 2nd XVIII and played for the Coromandel 2nd XI cricket team. He was also a local athlete of note.

He enlisted on 28 June 1915 at the age of 18, and embarked with Ack Company of the 32nd Battalion in November that year. After training in the Middle East, during which Alf was ill several times, the battalion shipped out to France in June 1916. The 32nd Battalion, as part of the 8th Brigade of the 5th Division, fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916, having entered the front line only a few days prior. It was also the first attack conducted by Australian troops on the Western Front. The attack was a disaster, with the battalion suffering nearly 75% casualties in the worst night in the history of the Australian Army. One of those casualties was Alf Sinigear, whose body could not be located after the battle, and as a result he was recorded as killed in action. Along with 1,332 other Australians who died in the battle who had no known grave, his name was inscribed on the VC Corner Australian Memorial at Fromelles. Despite the efforts of the recent Fromelles Project, his remains have yet to be identified, although it is possible he was amongst those re-interred in the Pheasant Wood Cemetery in 2010.

Alf Sinigear's name is also inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial, the honour board in the Elders Building in Currie Street, Adelaide, and the South Australian National War Memorial, North Terrace.

Alf was the only son of an only son, and his death, along with that of his father in November that year, meant that the name Sinigear died out in Australia with the death of his mother in 1938.

Photograph: The Advertiser, 18 August 1916, page 7.

28 November 2010

Private Henry Heyer of Upper Sturt

Harry Heyer was a son of William Heyer and Mary Ann Heyer (nee Zachariah) who lived at 'Haldeen' a property on Waverley Ridge between Upper Sturt and Crafers. He was born at Upper Sturt in 1892 and grew up in the district, working for the South Australian Railways as an engine cleaner.

He enlisted on 24 September 1915 at the age of 23 at which time he was working and living in Murray Bridge. After undergoing signalling training at Mitcham Camp, he was eventually allocated to the signals section of the headquarters of the 43rd Battalion, the third battalion to be raised solely in South Australia. He may have had trouble enlisting earlier in the war as he was only 5'4" tall, and this was under the minimum height imposed at the start of the war. As casualties mounted, the military authorities reduced the height requirements. The 43rd Battalion embarked from Adelaide on the transport 'Afric' on 9 June 1916, and disembarked at Marseilles in the south of France on 20 July 1916 after a short stop in Egypt. After entraining for the Channel coast and further training in England, the battalion was sent to France in late November 1916, and arrived on the Western Front the following month.

After an initial stint in the so-called 'nursery sector' near Armentieries, the battalion was rested in April 1917 at Oosthove Farm, during which Harry was sent for three days further signals training. In late April they returned to the mud-clogged frontline near Ploegsteert, and conducted several raids into the enemy trenches opposite. In June 1917, the 43rd Battalion was initially in a reserve role during the Battle of Messines, but then took over the advance as resistance stiffened, resulting in 143 casualties suffered by the battalion between 2-12 June.

After a short stint back in reserve, the battalion re-entered the frontline north-west of Warneton in late June 1917. On 1 July 1917, Harry was working at battalion headquarters when the area was heavily shelled by the Germans resulting in several casualties. Harry was hit in the back and left shoulder, and was evacuated via the 9th Field Ambulance and the 11th Casualty Clearing Station, but died of his wounds later that day.

He was buried in the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France. His mates from the signals section erected a cross over his grave.

Harry's younger brother William served in the 32nd Battalion and was killed in France on 29 September 1918.

Harry's name is inscribed on honour rolls in the Upper Sturt Methodist Church, Upper Sturt Memorial Hall and Adelaide Railway Station and on the Aldgate Memorial.
Photograph: Courtesy State Records of South Australia

16 October 2010

Lieutenant Russell Hope Harris of Blackwood

Russell Harris was one of three sons of Charles Hope Harris and Margaret Harris. He was born in North Kensington, SA in 1889. His father was a notable surveyor responsible for surveying large areas of northern South Australia, including the towns of Port Pirie, Laura, Curramulka and Ardrossan.

Russell attended Prince Alfred College, The School of Mines and Industries, and graduated with a Diploma of Commerce from the University of Adelaide in 1912. He was working as an accountant when he enlisted on 13 December 1915.

Russell attended the 3rd Officers' Training School at Duntroon between March and September 1916, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 1 October 1916. At some point between his initial enlistment and his departure for England, he married Helen Alison Frances Harris and they had a home at Blackwood, where his mother lived. He disembarked in England on 27 March 1917 and after some additional training, was taken on strength of the 27th Battalion in France on 27 June 1917. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 7 September 1917 and was wounded in action during the Battle of Menin Road on 20 September 1917, sustaining a shrapnel wound to his left hand. He displayed leadership and example by continuing to lead his platoon for over five hours, despite great pain. He had to be ordered to leave the frontline to get medical treatment by his company commander after the objective was captured.

Russell recovered to rejoin his unit on 23 October 1917 and received word that he had been mentioned in dispatches for gallant service and devotion to duty for his actions during the Battle of Menin Road. He remained with the battalion until April 1918 when he did a stint at the Corps reinforcement camp as an instructor. He returned to the 27th Battalion in early August 1918, and within a week was wounded for a second time during the Battle of Amiens, this time a gunshot wound to the left leg.

Following the armistice, Russell was granted leave with pay to attend a special AIF course at Bradford Technical College, then worked at Laycock and Sons Wool Mills for education purposes. He resigned his permanent commission on 27 July 1919, and planned to return to Australia via the United States, for business reasons. His wife Helen had been living in London, and accompanied him to the United States.
His younger brother Charles served with the 10th Battalion and survived the war.

Russell subsequently became a citizen of the United States and worked as a wool buyer for American Woolen Mills in Boston for over 34 years. His wife had died prior to 1951 when he visited his daughter, Mrs John Lindon who lived in Fitzroy, SA with her husband Dr John Lindon. He visited Adelaide again in 1954 after his retirement when Dr and Mrs Lindon were living in Aldgate.

His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial.

Private Charles Irvine Harris of Blackwood

Charles Irvine Harris was one of three sons of Charles Hope Harris and Margaret Harris. He was born in Kensington, SA in 1894. His father was a notable surveyor responsible for surveying large areas of northern South Australia, including the towns of Port Pirie, Laura, Curramulka and Ardrossan.

After his schooling, Charles served in the junior and senior cadets and worked as a bank clerk before the war, at which time he was living in Blackwood with his mother. His father died in June 1915.

He enlisted on 30 March 1916 at the age of 20, and joined the 19th reinforcements to the 10th Battalion which shipped out from Adelaide on 12 August 1916 aboard the troopship 'Ballarat'. He joined the 3rd Training Battalion in England in October 1916, and after training, joined the 10th Battalion in France in December 1917. By February 1918 he was a trombonist in the battalion band. Contrary to common belief, after the Battle of Pozieres in 1916, bandsmen were generally not used as stretcher bearers. The band accompanied the battalion in and out of the trenches however, performing a range of miscellaneous duties when not required to perform.

Whilst he was with the battalion, it helped stop the German Spring offensive at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, took part in the Battle of Amiens in August 1918, and then helped drive the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line.

His older brother Russell was a Lieutenant in the 27th Battalion, was mentioned in dispatches and survived the war, then emigrated to the United States.

Charles married Muriel Blanche Harris on 18 February 1928 at North Kensington, SA. During the Second World War, Charles served in the 2nd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps between April 1942 and July 1944. He and Muriel were living at Prospect at the time. Charles died in 1953.

His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial and the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church Honour Roll at the Blackwood RSL.

25 September 2010

Corporal Ronald Percival Jones of Coromandel Valley

Perc Jones was born in 1889, a son of Edwin Elliot Jones and Annie Jones (nee Wait). His father died in 1892 when Perc was only three years old, and the family moved to the Coromandel Valley area where Annie's father had been the local butcher. Perc was schooled at Coromandel Valley Public School until an altercation with the headmaster meant he and his brother Stanley had to complete their schooling at Cherry Gardens Public School. He left school at 13 and worked as a builder's labourer in the Strathalbyn area. He was a keen horseman, and in 1910 or 1911 he served a year with 4 Squadron of the 17th Australian (South Australian Mounted Rifles) Light Horse militia unit that took in the Blackwood and Clarendon area. Before the war he was an active member of the Blackwood Rifle Club, attended the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church and Rechabite Lodge, and kept wicket for the Coromandel Valley 2nd XI.

In May 1915 the family received news that Perc's brother Fred had died of wounds received during the landing at ANZAC. Perc enlisted on 7 January 1916 and was allocated to the 16th reinforcements to the 9th Light Horse Regiment. A farewell reception was held at the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Boy's Club on 14 February 1916, and he and Lena Hall announced their engagement just before he embarked in late April 1916. Lena Hall's brother Albert had enlisted in the Light Horse a week before Perc. By this time it was estimated that 85% of all eligible young men in the district had enlisted.

On arrival in Egypt in June 1916, Perc was allocated to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment, and after a short stint in hospital was transferred to the 27th Depot Unit of Supply at Romani. He spent three weeks in hospital in April and May 1917 at Belah then Cairo with influenza, and then was transferred to the Australian Army Service Corps in early May 1917, where he became a member of the Australian and New Zealand Divisional Train. The Divisional Train contained all the logistic and supply requirements to support the Australian and New Zealand Division. Perc was transferred between the companies of the Divisional Train over the next two years, and was promoted to Corporal in June 1918. He spent more stints in hospital with malaria and dysentery, and was dangerously ill in the 24th Stationary Hospital at Kantara for some time in May and June 1919. He embarked on the 'Dunluce Castle' at Suez on 17 July 1919, and was discharged in Adelaide on 7 October 1919.

Perc and Lena were married in the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church two weeks after his discharge. Their first home was in Blackwood where Perc worked for his brother Arch, who ran the butcher shop located at the Blackwood crossroads. Lena and Perc had three daughters, Kathleen Ellen in 1920, Hilda Ruth in 1922 and Thelma Yvonne in 1929. The corner where the butcher shop stood has been known as 'Jones Corner' for nearly a century. Perc later took over the butcher shop in Coromandel Valley until 1938 when he and Lena moved back to Blackwood and he returned to work in Arch's butcher shop.

Perc and Lena were very active in many community organisations including school committees, sports clubs and the Blackwood RSL.

During the Second World War, Perc served as a private in the 3rd Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps between April 1942 and October 1945. Two years later, Lena passed away.

Perc married Jean Paebell in 1953, and in 1967 he was living at 31 Waite Street, Blackwood when applied for his brother Fred's Gallipoli Medallion. Perc died in December 1972 aged 83 and was buried at Centennial Park. His name is inscribed on the Coromandel Valley War Memorial, the Coromandel Valley and Cherry Gardens Public School Rolls of Honour, and the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church Roll of Honour in the Blackwood RSL.

Photograph: Courtesy of Judy Tscharke

07 September 2010

Private Frederick Wallace Jones of Coromandel Valley

Fred Jones was the fifth child of Edwin Elliott Jones and Annie Jones (nee Wait). He was born at Glen Osmond in 1888, and his father died four years later when Fred was just 4. He attended Coromandel Valley Public School and the family were active in the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church. Fred was honorary secretary of the Blackwood Rifle Club and a member of the Blackwood, Belair and Coromandel Valley Boy's Club. Like many young men at the time, Fred chased work wherever he could find it, including breaking rocks for council road-making in the district. He enlisted on 28 August 1914, and the September 1914 issue of the Blackwood Magazine noted that he was amongst the first men to enlist from the area.

He joined B or 'Beer' Company of the 10th Battalion at Morphettville, and shipped out with the rest of the battalion on the 'Ascanius' on 20 October 1914. By December 1914 the battalion was camped in tents at the foot of the Pyramids in Egypt. Training continued till early April 1915 when the battalion moved to Alexandria and then to the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea.

About 2pm on the afternoon of 24 April 1915, Fred, loaded down with his pack and rifle, climbed on board the British battleship the 'Prince of Wales', along with the rest of 'Beer' and 'Cork' companies of the 10th Battalion. The 'Prince of Wales' then slipped out of Mudros Harbour, along with other ships carrying the rest of the first wave that was to land on Gallipoli.

Around 7pm that evening the battalion were told they could rest until 11pm. Those that were able to sleep were woken at midnight, and they were all given a welcome cup of hot cocoa by the ships' crew.

At 1am the ships stopped so the soldiers could start climbing down rope ladders into lines of rowing boats moored alongside the battleship. By 2.35am the rowing boats were full, and the battleship set off again with the lines of rowing boats attached to its sides. At 3 am the moon set and the sky grew very dark. At 3.30am the boats cast off from the battleship to be towed in threes towards the distant shore by small steamboats.

It was so dark that they would probably not have been able to see the lines of boats being towed alongside. Perhaps they could have just made out the boat behind or in front. The water was smooth as satin. It was a cool peaceful night. There was still no sign of any sort that the Turks had seen them. Close to the shore, the steamboats cast off the lines of boats, and they began to row.

About 4.29am a figure appeared silhouetted on a cliff overlooking the beach and a shot rang out, whizzed overhead and plunged into the sea. Moments later, as the boats reached the stony beach, Fred and his mates slipped over the side and waded ashore, weighed down by their equipment. Bullets struck sparks off the stones on the beach, and men were killed and wounded in the boats, in the water and on the beach. Those that hadn’t been hit ran across the stony beach to the cover of a sandy bank. They started to scale the steep hill in front of them, some driving their bayonet into the dirt to give them a handhold, as the Turks kept shooting at them with rifles then machine guns, the fire getting heavier and the casualties mounting every minute.

Sometime in the next few days of confused fighting, Fred Jones was seriously wounded. On 1 May 1915 at sea aboard the 'Derfflinger', he died. He was buried the following day at the Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. He was the first man from Coromandel Valley to die as a result of enemy action in the First World War. He is commemorated on the family grave in the Coromandel Valley Cemetery, on the Coromandel Valley Public School Roll of Honour, at the Coromandel War Memorial, and in the South Australian National War Memorial.

His younger brother Perc enlisted in January 1916, served in the Middle East with the 9th Light Horse Regiment and survived the war.

01 September 2010

Private Gilbert Ernest Baker of Blackwood

Bert Baker was a son of James and Louisa Baker, and was born in Blackwood in September 1891. He attended Coromandel Valley Public School and worked as a labourer before the war. The September 1914 issue of the Blackwood Magazine mentions that Bert was one of twelve local men who had enlisted soon after war was declared.

He enlisted on 8 September 1914 at the age of 22, and was an original member of A or 'Ack' Squadron, 3rd Light Horse Regiment when it formed at Morphettville. The 3rd Light Horse Regiment consisted of a headquarters and two squadrons raised in South Australia and a third squadron raised in Tasmania. The South Australian part of the regiment embarked on the 'Port Lincoln' on 20 October and disembarked in Alexandria, Egypt on 9 December 1914. After a period in camp at Maadi then Heliopolis, the regiment was volunteered to serve on Gallipoli as dismounted infantry, and landed at ANZAC Cove on 12 May 1915.

After digging in along Shrapnel Valley, the regiment was committed to defend Pope's Hill during the Turkish counterattack of 18/19 May 1915. It rotated on and off Pope's Hill until the end of July when it received a large number of reinforcements. During the period from their arrival until the end of July, the regiment had lost 29 killed and many wounded. From his first day on Gallipoli, Bert did valuable work as a sniper.

In early August, the regiment was redeployed to new positions to support the offensive which included the charge at the Nek on 7 August 1915, during which over 300 lighthorsemen from the 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments were slaughtered. Between 9 and 22 August 1915, Ack Squadron of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment defended Quinn's Post. Throughout that period, Bert Baker did consistently good work in sniping and bomb (grenade) throwing, but on 22 August a new kind of bomb blew up in his hand as he was experimenting with it, and it blew his right hand off. He was evacuated to Mudros, on the island of Lemnos, then on to England, arriving in hospital in London on 9 September 1915, a year and a day after he enlisted. On 7 December 1915, the commanding officer of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment recommended Bert for the award of the French Medaille Militaire for his consistently good work as both a sniper and bomb thrower at Quinn's Post, but the recommendation did not result in an award. After treatment in London, Bert embarked for Australia in May 1916, and was discharged in Adelaide on 24 August 1916.

After the war Bert married Elizabeth and had a family. His grandson Jon remembers being picked up by his braces by Bert, using the prosthetic hook he wore in place of his right hand. He also remembers marvelling at how Bert rolled a cigarette one-handed.

Bert Baker died on 11 October 1957 at the age of 65 and was buried in Derrick Gardens, Centennial Park. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Memorial.

Photograph: Courtesy of Jon Chittleborough

08 August 2010

Trooper Albert Ernest Hall of Blackwood

Bert Hall was born in Coromandel Valley in 1887. He was the only son of James and Minnie Hall, and the family lived at 'Wardlowvale' near Blackwood immediately before the war. The family were active in the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church.

Bert was working as a mason, mostly in the Strathalbyn area, when he enlisted on 30 December 1915, and he was allocated to the 15th reinforcements to the 9th Light Horse Regiment. He embarked with the rest of those reinforcements on the 'Anchises' in March 1916 and was taken on strength of the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment in Egypt the following month.

In September 1916 he was detached to the Imperial Camel Corps. In November 1916 he was allocated to No. 1 Company of the 1st ANZAC Battalion of the Imperial Camel Corps. While Bert was with the battalion it took part in the battles of Magdhaba and Rafa, and the three battles of Gaza. Bert spent a month in hospital in November 1917 with a fever and again in May 1918 with malaria. He went to the Light Horse depot in July 1918 when the Camel Corps was reorganised, and rejoined the 9th Light Horse Regiment in September 1918. He was with the 9th during the captures of Jenin, Sasa and Damascus just prior to the Turkish surrender. He was admitted to hospital again with malaria in February 1919 before shipping home. He was discharged in Adelaide in October 1919 and gave his address as Blackwood.

After his discharge he lived a reserved life. He suffered from asthma, and in the latter years of his life found relief by sleeping on an open verandah. He worked on the family property, milking cows, separating the milk, seeing to the poultry and attending to the garden.
During the Second World War he met and married an attractive woman, Elsie Daniels, who had two daughters from a previous marriage. The marriage did not last, and Bert moved back to the family home, which still stands.

Bert Hall died in 1962 at the age of 75 at the Blackwood Private Hospital and was buried with his parents in Coromandel Valley cemetery. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Soldiers Memorial, the Coromandel Valley War Memorial and the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church Honour Roll displayed in the Blackwood and Community RSL.

07 June 2010

Captain Gordon Cathcart Campbell MC (and Bar) of Blackwood

Gordon Campbell was born at Myrtle Bank in 1885, and was one of six sons of Dr Allan Campbell and Florence Ann Campbell (nee Way). His father was a member of the South Australian Legislative Council and has been credited with the establishment of the Adelaide Children's Hospital (now the Women's and Children's Hospital) in 1876. Gordon's maternal uncle Sir Samuel Way was a very prominent leader in the colony, serving as Lieutenant Governor, Attorney-General, Chief Justice, and Chancellor of the University of Adelaide amongst many other important roles. Gordon was educated at St Peter's College, and in his prime was one of the finest all-round athletes and sportsmen in South Australia. While he was still at school his older brothers Allan and Neil served in the Boer War, Allan being killed in action.

During his schooling, Gordon excelled in cricket, football, running, lacrosse and gymnastics, and captained the St Peter's football, cricket and running teams. Gordon went on to the University of Adelaide, and in 1906 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, then LLB in 1909. While he was at university he captained the University of Adelaide inter-varsity sports team, and captained South Australian sides in both lacrosse and cricket. When available, he also played cricket for the Coromandel Valley 1st XI. After completing his articles with Johnstone and Evans, he was admitted to the Bar in 1911, and before the outbreak of war was practicing as a solicitor and living at Blackwood.

In 1915 he married Iris Fisher, the daughter of Isaac Alfred Fisher, a first class cricket umpire. In May 1915 the family received news that Gordon's brother Neil had been wounded at Gallipoli. In September Gordon enlisted and despite having no military experience whatever, was immediately put on an officer's training course at Mitcham Camp. At the completion of the course he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and allocated to the 10th reinforcements to the 10th Battalion. He joined the battalion on Lemnos on 21 November 1915 after they had evacuated from Gallipoli, and once they arrived in Egypt he underwent training on the Lewis machinegun and was appointed as the officer commanding the battalion's Lewis gun section. In March 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant just prior to the battalion's departure for France.

On arrival in France the battalion's first major action was the Battle of Pozieres. The following is taken from a description of his actions by his commanding officer:

On the morning of 24 July, Lieutenant Gordon Campbell showed great courage dash and ability in a bomb fight which took place in the old German trenches. Not only did he handle his machine guns with marked ability, but he organised and led parties of bombers to the attack, he stood on the parapet and threw bombs into the German trench and although wounded in two places, he continued his work until the enemy were driven out. It was largely due to his work that the enemy were driven out.

For his actions that day, Gordon was awarded the Military Cross.

A week later he was temporarily promoted to captain and took command of Cork Company of the 10th Battalion. His promotion was confirmed in October 1916. In February 1917 he was wounded in the foot during the Le Barque attack, but rejoined the battalion in June. In August he was appointed to command a special company of raiders known as Y Company. The following month he led his company onto the 2nd objective during the Battle of Polygon Wood. His commanding officer wrote:

During this period, Captain Gordon Campbell displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in commanding his company with the utmost determination, skill and energy. When the battalion was on the forming up line they were caught in an enemy artillery barrage and became disorganised. By his coolness and determination and utter disregard of his personal safety he re-organised his own company and then assisted in the reorganisation of the remainder of the battalion. Throughout the whole of the operations Gordon Campbell’s work was admirable and he was largely responsible for the success of the operation.

As a result, Gordon was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross. He was the first officer of the battalion to be awarded two gallantry decorations. A few weeks later Gordon commanded the battalion for four days in the absence of any senior officers.

Between February and June 1918 he was hospitalised in England, and after rejoining the battalion was appointed Adjutant. Gordon was responsible for much of the planning for the Battle of Merris in late July 1918, as a result of which Corporal Philip Davey of the 10th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross. Gordon was promoted to temporary major in early October 1918, but after a training injury necessitated his evacuation to England, he reverted to the rank of captain. After the Armistice he was involved in the negotiations for the AIF cricket team to tour Britain, and returned to South Australia in May 1919.

After the war Gordon moved to North Adelaide and practiced law. He served as a state vice-president of what is now the Returned and Services League and as president of the 10th Battalion Association. He continued his passion for cricket, serving as a state selector, a member of the Australian Board of Cricket Control and chairman of the South Australian Cricket Association. His other sports interests included roles as chairman of the South Australian Lacrosse Association and president of the South Australian Amateur Sports Association.

Gordon's older brother Lieutenant Neil Campbell was killed in action in April 1918 whilst serving with the 3rd Tunnelling Company near Erquinghem, France.

Gordon died in 1961 at the age of 76 and was cremated at Centennial Park. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Soldier's Memorial and he is also commemorated on honour boards in Scot's Church, Adelaide and Christ Church Hall, North Adelaide.

Photograph: From the Advertiser, 11 April 1917, p.6

Lieutenant Neil Campbell of Blackwood

Neil Campbell was born in Adelaide in 1882, and was one of six sons of Dr Allan Campbell and Florence Ann Campbell (nee Way). His father was a member of the South Australian Legislative Council and has been credited with the establishment of the Adelaide Children's Hospital (now the Women's and Children's Hospital) in 1876. Neil's maternal uncle Sir Samuel Way was a very prominent leader in the colony, serving as Lieutenant Governor, Attorney-General, Chief Justice, and Chancellor of the University of Adelaide amongst many other important roles. Neil was schooled at St Peter's College, and served in the cadets for five years then one year as a trooper with No.1 Squadron, South Australian Mounted Rifles. His father died in 1898, and in 1901 at the age of 18 Neil was granted a commission as a lieutenant in the fifth South Australian contingent (SA Imperial Bushmen) sent to the Boer War. He served in South Africa for one year and eight months, spending some time seriously ill with enteric (paratyphoid) fever, and then being attached to Colonel De Lisle's staff for five months towards the end of the war. He was awarded the Queen's Medal with four clasps for his service.

Following his return from the Boer War, Neil attended the University of Adelaide and the School of Mines and Industries, studying engineering. During this time he was very busy in a number of other roles, being a prominent member of the Adelaide Hunt Club, an extra aide-de-camp to his uncle, Sir Samuel Way, who was at that time the Lieutenant Governor, and showjumping at Adelaide and regional shows. He was close friends with Heywood Gordon, the son of Supreme Court Justice Sir John Gordon, and this was how he met Kathleen Gordon, his future wife.

In the early 1910's, following completion of his studies, Neil was working in the mines at Meekatharra in Western Australia as a mine surveyor and assayer, and some time prior to the outbreak of war, he married Kathleen Gordon.

In December 1914, Neil was granted a commission in the AIF on the basis of his previous service, and was appointed as a second lieutenant in the WA-recruited 10th Light Horse Regiment, not surprising given his obvious horse-riding skills. The 10th Light Horse embarked at Fremantle, WA in February 1915, and whilst he was at sea his wife gave birth to a daughter, Margaret. The 10th was amongst the light horse regiments that volunteered to be sent from Egypt to Gallipoli as infantry, and Neil landed there with the rest of the regiment on 21 May 1915.

About 3.20am on 29 May 1915, the 10th Light Horse was holding the trenches at Quinn's Post when the Turks blew up a sap and rushed the position. Neil was blown up when the mine exploded, and also suffered a gunshot wound in his left shoulder. Hospitalised on Malta and discovered to be also suffering from shell shock from the explosion, he was then embarked on a hospital ship to England and deemed unfit for active service in October 1915. He returned to Australia in December 1915, and after a stint in Adelaide he was re-assessed at the repatriation hospital in Fremantle in January 1916 and found fit for further active service.

Neil returned to England, but suffered another bout of enteric fever which further delayed his deployment to France. In September 1916 he was promoted to lieutenant, and in November 1916 he was transferred to Tunnelling Company reinforcements, probably due to his mining and engineering skills and experience. He joined the 3rd Tunnelling Company under Hill 70 near Hulluch, France on 7 March 1917, where they were heavily engaged in tunnelling and placing large mines in the tunnels. On 3 May the unit was engaged in road building and repair when he was examining a German booby trap rifle grenade located in an enemy mine shaft. The booby trap exploded, wounding him in the hands and face, damaging one of his eyes. He was evacuated to England and re-joined his unit in October 1917 wearing an eye patch, having lost sight in the damaged eye.

On 9 April 1918, Neil was commanding No.1 Section of the 3rd Tunnelling Company who were developing machinegun emplacements at Pont-de-Nieppe on the Lys River in a British sector. He was ordered to form part of a defensive line alongside the 15th Royal Scots Regiment near Erquinghem to hold the German advance. On 10 April, Neil's command was extended to include a company of a composite battalion made up of cooks, batmen and various detachments. In the late afternoon, a runner arrived with orders for the line to withdrawn, but Neil was not satisfied and got out of the position to walk back to the unit headquarters to confirm the order. He was never seen again. In his account of the action in which Neil was reported missing in action, in Chapter 13, Volume 5 of the Official History of Australia the War of 1914-1918, Charles Bean described Neil Campbell as 'a singularly fine leader'.

On 29 April 1918 Justice John Gordon was sitting at the Supreme Court when he received a message that his son-in-law was missing. He went home and the court was adjourned. Justice Gordon was the only male member of his family not to go to the war.

Witnesses interviewed as part of the board of inquiry conducted into Neil's fate in early 1919 said that he was a very brave officer who had an absolute disregard for shellfire.

Neil's younger brother Captain Gordon Campbell MC served with the 10th Battalion and was the first 10th Battalion officer to be awarded two bravery awards, receiving a Bar to his Military Cross. Gordon survived the war.

Neil Campbell's name is inscribed on the Blackwood Soldier's Memorial and he is also commemorated in the North Road Church of England Cemetery, Nailsworth.

Photograph: Taken from Adelaide Hunt Club 1905 - Courtesy State Library of South Australia