Claus Valdemar Gronn was born in Kilmore in 1897 the son of Valdemar Joseph Lorenz and Helena Priscilla Gronn (nee Poynter). The Gronn family had arrived in Kilmore in 1892, purchasing the tannery in Victoria Parade. After finishing school at the Kilmore State School, Claus (known as Clarence or more so Clarrie) joined his father as a tanner and currier. He also was a sergeant in the local cadets and served 3 months in the Citizens Militia.
With his parents’ permission Clarrie enlisted in Melbourne on September 20, 1915. He undertook training in Bendigo and on December 2, 1916 he joined the 15th Reinforcements, 7th Battalion as a private 4788, and was promoted to Lance Corporal in January 1916.
The Kilmore Free Press reported that “Sergeant Clarence Gronn, who left for the front last week”, was presented with a bible by members of the Kilmore Presbyterian Church. On March 7, 1916 Clarrie embarked in Melbourne on the Wiltshire bound for the Western Front via Egypt and Marseilles where he reverted to private on being taken on strength on July 7, 1916.
Clarrie received a gun shot wound to his thigh in late July 1916 and was transferred to England where he received treatment in Birmingham. Clarrie remained in England on light duties until late June 1917 when he joined the 2nd and then 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers, on the Western Front. On January 16, 1918 Clarrie received a gun shot wound to his left groin and was transferred to England for treatment. Then in October 1918 he rejoined his battalion in France and following the end of the war remained there until April 1919.
Back in England Clarrie, by now aged 21 years, married his girlfriend Marguerite Iris Neale, aged 19 years, at the Registry Office, Warminster, Wiltshire, on May 26, 1919. They embarked on the Konigin Luise on December 18, 1919 for Melbourne. Clarrie was discharged on June 13 1920.
Clarrie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll in the Memorial Hall, on the Kilmore State School Honour Roll and the Kilmore Presbyterian Church Honour Roll. He was welcomed home on February 5, 1920 and attended the presentation of medals by General Birdwood in Kilmore in March 1920.
The Gronn family left Kilmore in 1925 and lived in Melbourne, Clarrie was a member of the Kilmore Historical Society and attended meetings. He died on 23 February 1976 and was cremated at Springvale Cemetery.
(Previously published in Kilmore Connections, June 2003)
During the First World War tens of thousands of Australian troops passed through the huge military training camps set up in Britain. Soldiers would move between these camps and the battle front in France and Belgium. The hutted camp at Sutton Veny near Salisbury was one of these, and there, on the night of 27 November 1917, a tragic event began to unfold. An Australian soldier was found dead in suspicious circumstances.
About 11 pm that night, Corporal Verney Asser, an instructor at the camp, went to the sergeant of the guard’s room to report that his colleague with whom he shared a hut had committed suicide. Asser said that he had been woken by a loud shot and looked over to find Corporal Durkin dead in his bed. The victim was lying on his right side with his head bloodied and a rifle by his hand.
The deceased was 24-year-old Joe Durkin from Carlton, Victoria. He had grown up in Kilmore where his Irish-born father was a local tailor; his mother died when he was about ten years old. Durkin, a former railwayman, had been in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) for almost two years. He left Melbourne with the 17th reinforcements for the 6th Battalion in April 1916, and was stationed in Egypt before going to England. More recently, he and Asser were light machine-gun instructors with the 2nd Australian Training Battalion and they shared accommodation in the Lewis gun hut.
Two days after the tragedy a coroner’s court was held at the military hospital at Sutton Veny. Corporal Asser was the main witness. He testified that Durkin had been depressed and moody all the fateful day. The jury retired and, after deliberation, returned to the court to announce that it believed that the corporal had committed suicide during a period of temporary insanity.
The matter may have rested there but for another camp instructor, Corporal Mime, coming forward a few days later with information that would quickly re-open the case. From the first Milne had insisted that Durkin was not a man likely to kill himself and clearly he had become concerned about the inquest’s conclusions. He now went on to say that on the night of the shooting Asser had come to his hut three times and had gone into an area where ammunition was stored. Later there had been a shot from Asser and Durkin’s hut next door and a round had actually passed through Mime’s wall and put a hole in his jacket which was at the end of his bed. Initially he had thought it was an accidental discharge and did not want to report it.
Matters that had been ignored in the original investigation now took on a sinister appearance. It was recalled that when Asser had gone to the guard hut he was fully dressed, even wearing his wound puttees and in the hut, where he said he had been asleep, his mattress was still rolled up. No empty cartridge was found in the rifle that killed Durkin; someone had extracted it after firing, and only Asser and Durkin were in the hut. It began to look like murder, and Asser was the obvious suspect.
Investigation of his background revealed further odd facts. Verney Asser claimed to have been born in Ballarat thirty years earlier and to have been employed as a porter before volunteering for the AIF. He may have had previous military training because he was a sergeant in October 1915 when he was accepted to transfer to the permanent forces as an acting staff sergeant-major in the Administrative and Instructional Staff. Two months later he was recorded as having deserted from the army.
Asser next appeared at sea on the troopship Maiwa. When the ship reached Colombo he presented himself as a stowaway, expressing a wish to get to the war and requesting that he be enlisted. He was taken on to Egypt and there was made to contribute to the cost of his voyage. He was held at Zeitoun camp until it was decided that his desertion from the permanent forces would be overlooked, and he rejoined the AIF on 1 March 1916. He became a Member of the Australian Army Service Corps and in due course saw service on the Western Front until February 1917.
There was certainly evidence that Asser and Durkin had been friends. However, Asser revealed his darker side when drunk The two men quarrelled sometimes and witnesses recalled that a few weeks earlier Asser threatened “to get even” with Durkin. Added to this, investigators also discovered that a year earlier Asser had been admitted to hospital in England suffering from “mental derangement”. This was attributed to his alcoholism. It seems that he may have also been jealous of Durkin’s association with a widow in the town. The two men had argued when Durkin found Asser reading his letters from her.
Soldiers are subject to both civil and military law. Because the crime was committed in England it was decided that civil authorities would handle this case. Asser was committed to stand trial at the assizes at Devizes in January 1918 and the Commonwealth agreed to pay the costs of his defence. Extensive evidence was presented and the prosecution clearly established that only Asser and Durkin had been in the hut that evening, and that from the positioning of the fatal wound, and the type of rifle used, Durkin would have been in no position to shoot himself.
Still, Asser seemed comfortable when called into the witness box, answering confidently, and insisting he was innocent. It did him no good: the prosecution’s case was sound, and he was found guilty and condemned to death.
Verney Asser appealed against his sentence on the grounds of insanity. He claimed that he had been in asylums and hospital mental wards, although only his military record, with its reference to “mental derangement”, was produced as evidence of this. The appeal was dismissed and the death penalty confirmed. He was hanged at the old Shepton Mallet Prison on Tuesday morning 5 March 1918. The execution was conducted in secrecy without the customary raising of a black flag or tolling of a bell. Asser died instantaneously and offered no confession of his crime.
Remarkably, the Shepton Mallet Prison would see many more military executions. It was taken over by the American forces during the Second World War, was nicknamed “the glasshouse”, and gained a notorious reputation. Twenty-one US servicemen were hanged and two were shot at Shepton Mallet for crimes of rape and murder.
It is possible that had Asser’s crime occurred in a camp in France, and been handled under Military Law, he may have escaped execution. While military courts’ sentences were often harsh, some death sentences for murder were commuted. Furthermore, in the application of Military Law the official historian, Charles Bean, noted that “it was doubtful whether an Australian soldier even when guilty of murder could receive a death penalty”. It may be that there was more certainty in getting a conviction, and the full penalty, from a civil court. As it was, he became the only Australian soldier executed overseas in the First World War, if one excepts the case of Private Albert Fraser, who was hanged at HM Prison Glasgow on 26 May 1920.
Fraser’s situation was quite different. This troublesome soldier had arrived in England too late to see active service, and had cast aside his uniform and deserted as soon as the war was over. He lived as a civilian from the proceeds of selling pots and pans, and from crime. He and an accomplice were arrested in Belfast for the brutal murder of a man they had assaulted and robbed in a Glasgow park on 3 February 1920. This was a straight out civil matter and the fact that Fraser was still an “illegal absentee” from the AIF was not raised during the trial.
The subject of military executions during the First World War has been the subject of increasing interest in recent years. Throughout the war the death penalty was imposed on British soldiers for various crimes, including murder. Overwhelmingly, the most common charge was desertion. Various moves have been made to gain posthumous pardons for these men largely in the belief that they did not receive a fair hearing in the prevailing circumstances. The British Commonwealth forces executed over 300 of their own troops during the war, but none was a member of the AIF. But the claim that “no Australian soldier was executed during the war” overlooks the little known story of Verney Asser. Of course, the claim remains essentially correct, since it refers to military executions, not those under Civil Law.
Verney Asser died in disgrace. His entitlement to medals was cancelled; he has no marked grave; nor is his name recorded on the Australian War Memorial’s roll of honour in Canberra. Joseph Harold Durkin’s name is there. This unfortunate soldier received a military funeral and is buried in the war cemetery at St John’s Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. His resting place is in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and he lies in the small cemetery with 142 other Australians who died while in the local camps or hospital during the war.
Author Peter Burness is Senior Curator, Gallery Development, Australian War Memorial.
National Archives Files: NAA B2455; A.J. Fraser; J.H. Durkin; V Asser.
Australian War Memorial File; AWM Series 10: 4304/9/75.
Information from Kilmore Historical Society.
Reprinted with the permission of Peter Burness and Wartime magazine. Originally published in issue 21 of Wartime, the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial.
Patrick Raymond Skehan was born in Kilmore on April 27, 1894, the second son of Patrick and Amy (nee Grose) Skehan. Educated at Assumption College, Kilmore, he was a member of the Essendon Rifles Military Band (58th Reg.) and enlisted in the AIF at Broadmeadows on November 7, 1914, listing his occupation as Electrician.
Patrick sailed from Australia with the 2nd reinforcement to 7th Battalion on the HMAT “Clan Macgillivary” on February 2, 1915. On April 5, 1915, he embarked to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli and took part in the landing on Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, where he celebrated his 21st birthday on April 27. In July he was buried in a SAP which was blown in by heavy shellfire from the German warship “Goeben”. Only two were recovered alive from the SAP due to their proximity to the main trench. He regained consciousness on route to Malta and was admitted to St. Andrews Hospital, Malta with shell shock and suffered semi paralyses for some time.
After Gallipoli, he was transferred to the 1st Pioneer battalion and sent to France. The following is a brief extract from his writings:
“I was a runner at Pozieres and was affected by explosions to the extent of being thrown over and the concussion gave me a headache. On the second time we were in the line I hopped over with about 40 other men to dig a shallow trench for the infantry to “hop off” from. On the following day a shrapnel shell burst right in front of me and for a time I was dazed thinking the whole of the shell had hit me, but after a rest I recovered, I had a G.S.W in the left knee. I went to England and did not rejoin until April 1917. At Passchendaele I was thrown out of a shell hole by concussion and on another occasion was thrown into one, but I carried on until October 1918. The M.O. wanted to send me away, but I asked to be allowed to remain with my unit. In October 1918, I contracted influenza and went to England.”
AWARDED THE MILITARY MEDAL; “HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under mentioned soldier No. 1424 Private PATRICK RAYMOND SKEHAN”.
The citation reads:
“At Pozieres, France, on August 18, 1916, Pte. Skehan was detailed as a runner for Captain Speckual while 1st Avenue was under construction. During a heavy bombardment it was necessary to dispatch Pte. Skehan with a message to Lieut. O’Brien, on the way Pte. Skehan was hit on the knee by a piece of shrapnel but not withstanding this continued on his way, crawling on his hands and knees a distance of over 500 yards under continuous fire.”
He returned to Australia on the “City of Exeter” and was discharged on June 12, 1919. Due to his war service injuries suitable work was difficult to obtain, however, he worked as a casual labourer with the railways for a period, was appointed librarian in charge of the musical records at the Mildura University till its closure. He then returned to Moonee Ponds and finished his working life at the Maribynong ordnance factory. Blessed with a rich bass voice he often sang in operatic choruses and in St .Theresa’s choir, Essendon. Ocassionally he would visit family in Kilmore, travelling by train to Kilmore East and walking into the township. He never married and passed away on July 4, 1972, aged 78 years, and is buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.
In addition to the Military Medal, Patrick was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name appears on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll at the Kilmore Memorial Hall.
KILMORE FREE PRESS October 28, 1915 At the Dardanelles
Private P. R., Skehan, son of Mr P. Skehan, J.P., Kilmore, thus writes from the Convalescent Camp, Malta, under date 20th August, to his parents :-
At last I’am on the road to recovery and hope to be soon back in the trenches with the boys. Our battalion, in fact the whole brigade, has suffered terribly, and very few of the originals are left. We have had some horrible experiences, I never thought I would get used to it so quickly it was just like some awful nightmare. Our brigade was the second one ashore, and landed at 9 o’clock. From early morning the “Jizzie”, Buchantte, London and Triumph had been bombarding the forts at Gallipoli, the transports standing just behind. While we were getting into the torpedo destroyers which took us to the small boats we were shelled with shrapnel. Then we had to board the small boats and the naval pinnaces took us ashore, a string of three and four little boats being towed by each one. Then the excitement started. As we neared the shore they turned the machine guns on us from the hills while their field guns fired shrapnel from the flanks. We had to jump from the boats into the water, which was four feet-deep, and rush for cover of the cliffs. It was there we saw the slaughter the landing party suffered. Boats were smashed to pieces by shells, ghastly looking corpses laying and sitting in drifting boats, and others had been shot as they set foot on dry land. We scaled the little hill and went on up Shrapnel Gully. The first days and nights were awful. One of the machine guns of the 7th were manned by Essendon boys, and all were either killed or wounded. I thought I was a goner a hundred times during that week. The second reinforcements joined up with the 7th at Mena two days before they left, but some of us were picked to go as a hold party for the F.A. on the Indian. We concentrated at Lemnos Island and were taken back to the 7th on the Galeka the night before we sailed to the Dardanelles. We entrenched on the top of Shrapnel Gully, and now our trenches run right along the top of three similar gullies and right down towards Kuthier. We have Indian mountain batteries at the back of us as well as our field artillery, well hidden in the ridges, also Scotch howitzer batteries, which fire right over the hills, while the battleships extend from Gaba Tebe right up to the Dardanelles. On 7th May we (2nd; Brigade, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions) proceeded to Cape Helles, at the end of the peninsula, to assist the naval divisions, French and Territorials. We advanced 500 yards from Hood and Drake battalions’ trenches against Acki Babi and got cut up again. We took a Turkish trench which was full of dead, killed by the warships’ shells. We were at Cape Helles three weeks. The British and French troops told us they also had a terrible time at that end as-indeed the large grave yards prove. Shortly after coming back from Gaba Tebe we saw the Triumph torpedoed. While at Cape Helles we saw the River Clyde transport beached high and dry. The Dublins and Munsters landed off her. Father Hearne, of Richmond, was our chaplain; he has gone to Alexandria after being under fire for a couple of stiff months. We blew some Turks up in a mine, and went up to the same caper again. The Turks are brave fellows and just don’t care a damn for death. After their last big charge in June they were killed in hundreds, falling dead off our parapets. Our position is called “A N Z A C,” meaning A New Zealand Army Corps. All nicknames become official, such as Quinn’s Post, Johnston’s Jolly, Pope’s Hill, etc., and the Turk’s big guns are also nicknamed, being known as Asiatic Annie, Lonely Liz, High Velocity Archibald etc. I will be back in the trenches in September, all going well. I am.one of the few lucky ones to keep going from the first day until the middle of July.
Francis was the son of Gregory Grattam Anderson and Julia Frances McManus. He was born in Kilmore in 1893, and worked as a labourer.
At age 22 years, Francis enlisted at Ballarat on 29 January 1917 and was assigned as a private in the 39th Battalion. After training, Francis embarked from Melbourne on the “Ascanius” on 27 May 1916 for England.
On 6 November 1916 he was admitted to the Fargo Military Hospital in Wiltshire with pneumonia then transferred to nearby Bulford Manor Hospital on 16 November. He was mentioned in the Argus of 28 November 1916 as being seriously ill.
On 29 December 1916 he was discharged to duty and rejoined his Battalion on 28 January 1917 sailing from England on the “Princess Clementine” from Folkestone to Etaples in France to the 10th Training Battalion.
Francis was killed in action in the fields of Passchendaele, Belgium on 8 June 1917. He received the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded at Ypres (Menin Gate Memorial), the Kilmore War Memorial, Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll and the Shire of Pyalong Honour Roll.
James Burston was the first born son (1856) of Samuel Burston and Sophy Keath, who married in Kilmore in 1855. There were 2 other children; George and Agnes. They lived on 5 blocks on the corner of Parade and Lamb Streets. They also had a business in Somerset House on the north east corner of Bourke and Sydney Streets which they sold after a short time and purchased “Oak Park” at Prospect Hill between Kilmore and Broadford.
The family were by this time in the malting business and moved to Flinders Street Melbourne where they bought up several other malting businesses including Victoria Breweries. James and George managed this business after the death of their father in 1886. James married Marianne McBean in Kilmore in 1883, and had 3 sons and 3 daughters.
James had joined the Victorian Volunteers and by 1885 was promoted to Captain of the 2nd Infantry Battalion. In 1897 as a Lieutenant Colonel he represented Victoria for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations in London. He served in the Boer War.
In 1900 James was elected to the Melbourne City Council and was Mayor in 1908 and retired by 1912 but continued in public office as Chairman of the Officers Selection Board and on the board of the Bank of Victoria and others.
In 1915 James at the age of 58 was the Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade AIF, which saw service in Gallipoli. Deteriorating health saw him repatriated to Mudros on the Greek Island of Lemnos where he became Officer Commanding of Reinforcements. He was repatriated to Melbourne in 1916 and retired in 1920.
James died at his residence at Hawthorn on the 4 March 1920 and is buried in St. Kilda Cemetery. There is an ornate brass plaque in St. Paul’s Cathedral to his memory mentioning his Boer War service.
Herbert Thomas Skehan was born in Melbourne St, Kilmore on January 30, 1889, the eldest son of Patrick and Amy (nee Grose) Skehan. He was educated at Assumption College, Kilmore and graduated Dux of the school in 1909. Up until the time of his enlistment Herbert was a clerk in the tobacco trade in Melbourne and was engaged to be married.
Herbert enlisted at Broadmeadows on July 28, 1915 in the 3/29th Battalion, AIF. During training he was acting Corporal from 26 August to December 16, 1915. He embarked at Melbourne on the HMT Ballarat on February 18, 1916, and disembarked at Suez on March 22, 1916, and was taken on strength with the 29th Battalion on April 1, 1916.
The Battalion then transferred to the Western Front via Marseilles in June, where they took part in an attack against the German positions at Delange Farm in July, then held their positions for 11 days including a heavy counter attack.
During front line action Herbert was hospitalised with Influenza in November 1916 at Etaples, then again in hospital with frost bite in February 1917. He was transferred to the 5th Army School from May 21 to 27, 1917. After returning to his Battalion Herbert took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood near Ypres in Belgium which commenced on September 26, 1917. He was killed in action on that day.
The following is an eyewitness account by Corporal W J Marshall, – He was killed by a shell at Polygon Wood, I saw his body soon after. He was buried in a shell hole near where he fell by a party from the company. No cross was erected at the time, he was a machine gunner, and was in No: 5 Platoon, B. Company.
After the War Herbert’s remains were exhumed and re-buried at Ypres, Belgium, in the Duhallow ADS Cemetery. His father Patrick, as next of kin, received in 1921 a Memorial Scroll, Herbert’s British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star, and a photograph of his headstone. .
Herbert’s name is recorded on the Kilmore War Memorial, the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll at the Memorial Hall, and on the Assumption College Honour Roll.
Stephen was born in Kilmore to Emmeline Ann, nee Hill, and Francis John Holman, the last of four children, while they were living in Church Street, Kilmore.
He was single, aged 19 when he enlisted on February 13, 1915, and listed his occupation a bacon curer, working for the family business of Holman and Still Bacon Manufacturers on the corner of Church Street and Kilmore Lancefield Road, Kilmore.
He lists his mother as his next of kin and was serving in the Citizen Forces, Essendon Rifles. He became a Private in the 23rd Battalion, C Company, 6th Infantry Brigade at Broadmeadows and departed from Melbourne on board HMAT “Euripides” on May 10, 1915.
On August 26, 1916, while in France he was “mentioned for good and gallant conduct in connection with the recent hard fighting at Pozieres” as mentioned in the 2nd Australian Division Orders.
Then in April 1917 he was specially mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch which was published in the London Gazette of Tuesday, May 15, 1917, and promulgated in the Australian Gazette
of October 4, 1917.
Early in October he returned to the field from leave having over stayed his leave and was charged and 12 days pay withdrawn.
In December 1917, he was appointed Lance Corporal and in May 1918 promoted to Corporal.
He was again on leave in October and rejoined his battalion mid-November 1918 after the Armistice. He returned to England January 1919 and then returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the 3rd Military District on June 28 with no disability.
In June 1917, Emmeline Holman wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Defence requesting information about her son who had been on active service for more than two years.
She was advised to write to her son at “Elovs” which was the code word for 23rd Battalion and “Stralia”, code for A.I.F. Headquarters. Again she writes to Base Records Office, Melbourne in March 1919 requesting information on Corporal Holman’s return home.
He received the 1914/15 Star, the British War medal, The Victory Medal, and a set of Oak Leaves for the mention by Sir Douglas Haig.
In May 1930, Stephen wrote to Base records asking about receiving Leaves for the 1st mention in dispatches but was told he was only entitled to a certificate.
In October 1936, the Kilmore Bowling Club elected a new committee including Mr. S.W.Holman.
In January 1940, Stephen was elected on to the committee of the Kilmore Sub-branch of the R.S.S.I.L.A.
In 1967, Stephen wrote to the to the Officer in Charge, Central Army Records, Albert Park Barracks, Melbourne to request the ANZAC Commemorative Medallion and lapel badge stating he served on Gallipoli from September 4 to December 22, 1915.
The following article by Grahame Thom was originally published in the December 2009 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections
On Sunday 25 October , the Society conducted two successful events, first a tour of Kilmore Public Cemetery and second a lecture on the WW1 Australian soldiers remains recently found at Fromelles.
In preparing for the Cemetery tour I decided to feature two Kilmore residents whose passing are inscribed on two headstones in the cemetery; Samuel Ernest Crane and John Hammond. By doing this I wanted to demonstrate how reliable information can be gained quickly from the Societyʼs indexes and from searching the internet.
Samuel Ernest Crane
Private Samuel Ernest Crane AIF was killed in France on 20 April 1918, aged 36 years and his death was inscribed by his family on the Crane headstone in the Methodist Section. His parents were Sarah E Crane who died on 8 September 1909 and Thomas Crane who died in 1937.
Heather Knight checked her indexes and found a number of references. Samuel Ernest Craneʼs name appears on the Kilmore War Memorial, the Roll of Honour for the Kilmore State School, and the honour roll at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Also Heather found three references in the Kilmore Advertiser.
25 May 1918 – a report of a memorial service for S E Crane, son of Mr T Crane
14 June 1918 – a report that Thomas Crane had received a certificate as an expression of the loss of his son.
20 July 1918 – a report that the Crane family had received a letter from the Chaplain of the 6th Battalion.
On the internet I checked the Commonwealth War Graves site and found a page “In memory of Private Samuel Ernest Crane, 2140, 6th Bn, Australian Infantry, AIF, who died aged 35 on 20 April 1918, son of Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Crane, of Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, Remembered with Honour, Arneke British Cemetery, France”.
This cemetery contains 435 Commonwealth burials from WWI and five from WW2, and 126 French and five German war graves. The village of Arneke is about 50 kms south-east of Calais and eight kms north west of Cassel.
I then searched the National Archives of Australia web site and within the Defence records found Samuelʼs WWI file of 77 pages. The following is a limited extract from those pages. His enlistment paper shows that Samuel enlisted on 4 March 1915 at Broadmeadows. He then joined his Regiment, the 6th Batt Relief.
Samuel was an engineer, aged 32 years and 9 months, from Kilmore, Victoria, five foot six inches in height, weighed 11 stone eight pounds, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and religion Methodist, His next of kin was his father Thomas Crane of Kilmore, and he had served in the 5th Victorian Mounted Regiment in
Samuel served on Gallipoli in August 1915 and as a result of being wounded was shipped to England where he recovered in hospital at Hamstead After recovering he served in Egypt and then in France.
During this time he was promoted to Acting Corporal and then twice as Acting Sergeant but on embarking from England to France Samuel reverted to Private in October 1917. On 16 April while in action in France Samuel received gun shot wounds to both legs and died on 20 April 1918.
His army file contains letters to and from his father concerning Samuelʼs burial arrangements. His father was living at Fair View, Kilmore. Samuel was awarded 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Readers will recall that as a result of advice submitted to Council by Heather, a small access road near the Kilmore Post Office has been called John Hammond Place. The Hammond familyʼs headstone in the Anglican Section of the Kilmore Public Cemetery reveals that John Hammond passed away on 20 March 1884.
Heather provided the following obituaries.
Kilmore Advertiser 22 March 1884 page 3
“Death of Mr. John Hammond.
We regret exceedingly to have to record the death of Mr. John Hammond, the well known livery stable and hotelkeeper, which took place at his residence, the Red Lion Hotel, on Thursday morning. He had been ailing for some time, but only took to his bed about three weeks ago, and gradually sank until he died. Mr. Hammond, who was a very old resident of Kilmore, was born of humble but respectable parents in the county of Northampton, England, and was at the age of 14 years apprenticed as a wheelwright to Mr. William Butcher, of Fostersʼ Booth, in the parish of Pallishall, county of Northampton. Having served seven years, he wrought some time as journeyman, and shortly afterwards left England for the colonies, arriving in Kilmore from Queensland some 32 years ago. He was at once employed by the late Mr. Wm Beckett, whose shop old residents will remember being situated in the small paddock now enclosed and known as Rose Cottage property. After working for some time with Mr. Beckett, he commenced business in company with Mr. George Lansley, late of Kilmore, and now of Mooroopna. This was carried on in Sydney Street on the present site of the Bank of Victoria, until Mr. Lansley left, when Mr. Hammond continued the business, combining with it that of livery stable keeper. On Messrs Spurling and Palmer giving up business as livery stable keepers, Mr. Hammond removed to their new premises, where he soon established himself, and became a great favourite with the travelling public. Some years ago he rented the Red Lion Hotel, which was creditably conducted by him; he was also contractor for the mails between Kilmore and the railway station, and in every position gave uniform satisfaction. He was of a very kind and generous disposition, and universally respected. His loss will be keenly felt by those who had occasion to come in daily contact with him. He leaves a widow and several children, three of whom are of tender years. Much sympathy is expressed for all his sorrowing relations, and deep regret that the town should lose such an honored and respected resident. Mr. Hammond was 59 years of age at the time of his death, and as a mark of respect to his memory, almost all the shops in Sydney Street have been shuttered for the past two days. The funeral takes place this afternoon at three oʼclock.”
Kilmore Free Press 27 March 1884.
“Mr. John Hammond, whose serious illness we announced a fortnight ago, died on Thursday morning last. Deceased gentleman, who had been a resident of Kilmore for over 30 years, had been ailing for sometime past but never gave up is really active occupation, being certainly one of the most industrious in our midst, until within a few days of his succumbing to the inevitable. We have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Hammond for more than a quarter of a century, during which time he carried on a wheelwright and blacksmithʼs establishment on or close to the site now occupied by the Bank of Victoria, the livery stables formerly kept by Spurling and Palmer, and lastly the Red Lion Hotel, in all of which avocations he was attentive and obliging. Deceased reared a large family in our midst, for whom the strongest sympathy is felt in their loss. That he was generally respected was evinced by the large number who attended the funeral on Saturday. Mr. Hammond was 63 years of age at the time of his death.”
Kilmore Advertiser 29 March 1884 page 2
“The funeral of Mr. John Hammond, of the Red Lion Hotel, took place on Saturday last, and it was one of the largest yet seen in the district. At 3 oʼclock the corpse was removed to Christ Church, where the impressive service of the Church of England was read by the Rev. A. E. Harris, in the absence of the Rev. A. Toomath. At the conclusion of the service, the burial hymn “When our heads are bowed with woe,” was sung by the choir, and the Dead March in Saul played on the organ. The cortege then proceeded along Union and Sydney streets to the General Cemetery, where the last obsequies were held. Mr. Weisel had charge of the funeral arrangements.”
Using the internet I found on the familysearch.org web site that John Hammond was baptised on 21 September 1823 at Pattishall, Northampton, the son of Thomas and Ann Hammond.
The 1841 Census of England and Wales on the ancestry.com web site revealed that John Hammond, aged 15 years (ages rounded down to nearest five years), apprentice, was living in Pallishall at the home of the Butcher family, with William Butcher, aged 40 years, wheelwright as head of the household.
I then checked the probate records held by the Public Records Office of Victoria and was able to download from the PROV web site, at no cost a copy of Johnʼs will and other related papers. John Hammond, hotelkeeper, left his estate in trust to his executors Albert Lobb and Thomas Lade, both graziers of Darraweit Guim, for the benefit of his wife Maria who is to use the proceeds for the education of their daughters Elizabeth, Lucy, Mary, and Fanny. After the death of Maria and once the youngest had reached 21 years of age, the executors are to give each surviving daughter an equal share of his estate.
At the time of his death, Johnʼs estate was valued at £1019-17-0 and included two parcels of land; a blacksmithʼs forge in Sydney Street (£100) and 2 acres in Moranding (£10). His personal estate included 20 horses (£180.10.0), two omnibuses (£92.10.0), five buggies (£66.10.0), one waggonette (£20), and household furniture and effects (£359.6.6).
These are just examples of what can be found and further research will reveal more. For example, from the Victorian births, deaths and marriages indexes held by the Society, and there are a number of references to both the Crane and Hammond families in the three published histories of Kilmore :-
Kilmore – A tale of the century by J H Maher
Kilmore on the Sydney Road by Maya Tucker
Kilmore – Those that came before by Heather Knight
Samuel Ernest Crane was born in Kilmore in 1882, the son of Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Crane (nee Wortley). He attended the State School at Kilmore. He later enlisted in the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles as a Shoeing Smith and served in South Africa in 1901.
His occupation before World War One is recorded as an engineer in Kilmore. At age 32 years, Ernest enlisted on 4 March 1915 at Mildura as a private in the 6th Battalion AIF. His prior service was recognised as he was promoted to Corporal in June 1915 and in the same month to acting sergeant.
Samuel embarked on HMAT Wandilla in Melbourne on 17 June 1915. He reverted to private when he landed in Gallipoli in August 1915 and after being wounded he was first transferred to Mudros on Lemnos Island in September, then, via Egypt, to Hampstead Hospital in England in early October 1915. He remained in England for over a year in a training role and was promoted to sergeant.
But Samuel volunteered to return to the Western Front in France in October 1917, on the basis of reverting to private. He took a week’s leave in England in March 1918 and returned in time to take part in the defence of the German Spring Offensive.
Samuel was shot in both feet on 16 April 1918 and died of his wounds on 20 April at Hazebrouk, France. Private Crane was buried in the Arneke British Cemetery at Cassel, France. A memorial service for Samuel was held at the Kilmore Methodist Church on Sunday 19 May 1918.
Samuel’s family received a memorial scroll and his British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded on the Kilmore War Memorial, Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll, and the Kilmore State School Honour Roll. Samuel’s name is also recorded on the family headstone in the Methodist Section of the Kilmore Public Cemetery.
Charles Oscar Axen was born in Karlsborg, Sweden in December 1880 and arrived in Melbourne on the Orotana on 13 March 1902. He lived at High Camp for nine years, Western Australia for two years and Pyalong for two years, occupation labourer. Charles married Eleanor Maud Lawrence in 1905 and by 1916 they had four children.
At age 35 years Charles enlisted on 20 January 1916 at Melbourne and after training embarked for overseas on 16 July on the HMAT Suffolk. Before he left Charles became an Australian citizen in June 1916.
After a short period in England, Charles joined his Battalion, the 7th, in the Somme in November 1916 and within a month he was suffering trench fever. In January 1917 he was transferred to Horton Hospital, near London, and later to the 67th Battalion in a training role. Charles was promoted to Lance Corporal in April 1917.
Charles returned to France in October 1917 to take part in defending the German Spring Offensive. On 9 June 1918 he was promoted to Corporal. During the early days of the Allied Hundred Days Offensive, the 7th fought a major action at Lihons and on the first day, 9 August, Charles received gun shot wounds in his left leg. Within four days he was admitted to the Cambridge Hospital in Aldershot, England. After recovering and taking leave, he embarked on the HT Karmala on 2 January 1919 for Melbourne where he was discharged on 1 April.
On Friday 7 March 1919 at the High Camp hall, a large attendance of local citizens gave Charles a warm reception and presented him with a sum of money in appreciation of his three years active service.
Charles received the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded on the Pyalong Shire Honour Roll and at the Glenaroua Public Hall. The Axen family later moved to Mildura where Charles died in 1955.