Tag Archives: Egypt

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Thomas Henry Zoch

Thomas Henry Zoch

Thomas Henry Zoch was born in Deniliquin, NSW, on Christmas Day 1893, the eldest son of Joseph Stephen and Annie Zoch (nee Skene). The Zoch family then moved to Euroa, Yea and Arcadia in Victoria. However young Tom was looked after by Zoch relatives in Pyalong where he went to school.

It appears that in June 1915 Tom tried to enlist in Melbourne but was asked to be medically examined again as his chest measurement was below standard. He was then accepted on July 5, 1915 in Melbourne. What is interesting is that he enlisted under the name John Foster, stated that both parents were deceased and gave his next of kin as a friend Charles Kincaid of Boisdale, Victoria.

After training Tom (known as John) left Melbourne on the Star of Victoria on September 10, 1915 as part of the 9th Reinforcements, 7th Battalion bound for Egypt. He had been made a private, number 2791.

Tom saw action late in the Gallipoli campaign, and on return to Alexandria in Egypt took part in further training. He was transferred to the newly formed 59th Battalion on February 24, 1916. This Battalion was mostly made up of men from rural Victoria.

Following a bout of influenza he was transferred to the Western Front in France in June 1916. On July 19, the 59th took part in its first major battle at Fromelles. Attacking in the first wave, the 59th suffered heavy casualties, and Tom was shot in his left knee. He was transferred to England where he received treatment, took leave and rejoined his Battalion in France in April 1917.

His injuries prompted a change back to his birth name. On August 17, 1916, the Army Records Office in Melbourne informed Tom’s next of kin, Charles Kincaid, that Tom had been injured. It would seem that Charles then decided to inform Tom’s parents as his father Joseph wrote to the Army in August informing them that John Foster was his son and his name was Thomas Henry Zoch. This letter describes the circumstances which caused Tom to use another name. Tom had accumulated a debt owed to a storekeeper and the storekeeper told Tom he would be jailed if he did not pay. Tom then ”ran away from home” and later joined the Army. On November 22, 1916 Thomas signed a statutory declaration saying he was Thomas Henry Zoch and the Army then altered his record.

Back in France, it is likely Tom took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood on September 26, 1917. With the collapse of Russia in October 1917, a major German offensive on the Western Front was expected in early 1918. This came in late March and the 5th Division moved to defend the sector around Corbie. During this defence, the 59th Battalion participated in the now legendary counter-attack at Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April. Tom was probably part of that attack.

Tom had experienced several bouts of sickness including during the rest of 1918. He returned to Melbourne on the Tras-os-Montes arriving on May 22, 1919. He was discharged from the army on July 15, 1919 after four years service.

Tom was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His name is recorded on the Pyalong State School Honour Roll.

In 1922 Tom married Harriet Donovan and in April 1923 he gave his address as Anzac Ave, Seymour when applying for a War Service Homes grant. He received a carrier’s licence in 1923 but soon after worked for many years on the railways. Tom died in January 1967 at Prahan and was buried in Springvale Cemetery.

 

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 24 May 2016

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: William John Crook

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William John Crook was born in Kilmore in 1892, the son of Thomas and Mary Jane Crook (nee Penman). At school he served 18 months in the cadets and then became a bricklayer.

William, known as Willie, was only 164 cms tall when he enlisted in Melbourne on August 18, 1914, soon after war was declared. He was living with his parents in Wonthaggi. During training Willie was a batman (private, 64) attached to Divisional Headquarters for two weeks, He embarked on the Orvieto for Egypt on October 21, 1914 where he was attached to 2nd Divisional Headquarters and 1st Anzac Headquarters.

Private William John Crook, 1st Divisional Army Service Corps, mounted on one of General Bridges’ horses, thought to be called Pascha, at Mena Camp, Egypt. (Source: AWM JO2136)

Willie spent time in Alexandra, the Dardanelles and Ismailia where he was a groom to the Assistant Provost Marshall. In April 1916 he embarked for service in France and was attached to Anzac Headquarters in northern France. In June 1916 at Bailleul, Willie was ill with tonsillitis and on July 4, 1916 he was promoted to Corporal.

On September 16, 1916, Willie was transferred to the Anzac Provost Police in France; his duties unknown. In January 1917 he became ill with laryngitis and on February 5 Willie was transferred to England where he was admitted to the County of London Hospital. After he was discharged in April he rejoined the Provost Police in England but in July he went AWOL for 3 days for which he was reprimanded and forfeited two days pay.

Willie was transferred to the Australian Flying Corps (duties unknown) on September 16, 1917, and in October he was again admitted to hospital with laryngitis. His condition resulted in his return to Melbourne on the Persic; arriving on February 12, 1918. He was discharged medically unfit (chronic laryngitis) on March 26, 1918.

Willie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. After the War he competed as a jockey in country towns and died as a result of an accident at the Foster races on March 24, 1933.

Wounded soldiers at Bailleul

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 19 January 2016

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Leo Edward Cavanagh

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Leo Edward Cavanagh was born in 1894 in Reedy Creek, the son of Charles Alexander and Emily Cavanagh (nee McManus). Sometimes his surname is spelt Kavanagh. Leo attended the Kilmore State School.

When Leo enlisted on November 10, 1914 in Melbourne he gave his next of kin his aunt, Mrs J Anderson of Kilmore. He joined 1st Reinforcements, 5th Battalion as a private. Somehow two enlistment forms were filled out and Leo was allocated two service numbers 2352 and 2783. Leo gave his age as 21 years and 1 month. It is likely he overstated his age by one year.

After training, Leo embarked at Melbourne on HMAT Borda on December 22, 1914, bound for Egypt, where he became seriously ill.  This resulted in him being returned to Melbourne on the Ceramic, arriving May 25, 1915.

After a period in hospital at Broadmeadows, Leo was transferred to 7th Reinforcement Company and embarked on HMAT Demosthenes on July 16, 1915, bound for Egypt where he rejoined the 5th Battalion. He served about 3 months on Gallipoli at Anzac Cove, including time at Rest Gully. On return to Egypt he transferred to the 57th Battalion in February 1916, then to 58th and in March 1916 to the 14th Field Artillery Brigade as a driver.

In June 1916 Leo left Alexandria for France where he saw action on the Western Front. He took two weeks leave in June 1917 in France and soon after he returned Leo became ill with P U O in July. This was short for pyrexia of unknown origin, probably as a result of being gassed. In late August he was transferred from the 5th General Hospital in Calais to the Reading War Hospital in England.

In October 1917 Leo went AWOL in London and as a result forfeited 4 days pay. However he was arrested by the civil police on October 24, 1917 and later convicted for assaulting two police constables at Milcombe Regis, Dorset. At a court hearing in Weymouth on December 26, he was sentenced to  prison for three months with pay forfeited for 92 days.  After leaving prison Leo sailed to Melbourne on the Marathon.

On return Leo was medically assessed in July 1918 and was found to have had an accident on a chaff cutter before enlistment, which resulted in a serious wound to his right wrist. This was rated “powerless right hand” and he was operated on August 7, then discharged medically unfit on November 6, 1918.

Leo 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, and on the Kilmore State School Honour Roll.

The Kilmore Advertiser reported on 22 June 1918 that “Private Leo Cavanagh, who left Kilmore in December 1914, with the Australian Light Horse, returned home last week. He has been amongst some strenuous fighting, being at Gallipoli, and afterwards at Lemnos. From there, he was drafted to France, and has been in several engagements, notably at Possiers. It was here that he was disabled. His horse stumbled over a wire on the ground, throwing him into a shell trench, breaking his gas helmet, with the result that Private Cavanagh got a dose of the Hun gas. He managed to get back to the lines, but was invalided to England. The transport in which he came back in voyaged by way of America and through the Panama Canal, and the South Seas, a most interesting journey, which the returned soldier and his comrades enjoyed immensely.”

After the war Leo married Maude Webb in 1919 and they had three children. Leo died on September 3, 1973 at Healesville.

Rest Gully, Gallipoli (Source: – AWM-C01482)

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 9 February 2016

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Harry Vinicombe

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Harry Vinicombe was born in Kyneton in 1893, the son of Albert Orchard and Ann Mary Vinicombe (nee McGrath). His mother Ann died in 1900 at Kyneton and his father became a manager of a property at High Camp Plain. Harry attended Pyalong School and later became a motor driver and chauffeur.

He enlisted on July 7, 1915 in Melbourne and for a month was stationed at B Company, Flemington Depot. Harry was then posted to the 2nd Reinforcements, 29th Battalion for training. He embarked on HMAT Demosthenes at Melbourne on October 29, 1915.

By January, 1916 Harry was in the Suez, Egypt, and soon after spent 8 days in hospital with tonsillitis. Following further training Harry was allocated to the 45th Battalion as a private, 1781, on April 2, 1916 at Serapeum.

The 45th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 2 March 1916 as part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division, and arrived in Marselles on June 8, 1916, for transfer to the Western Front. It fought in its first major battle at Pozieres in August, defending ground previously captured by the 2nd Australian Division.

Harry was injured in action with multiple gunshot wounds on August 6, 1916 and next day, being dangerously ill he was transferred well behind the lines to Camiers where he died in the 4th General Hospital on September 14. Harry was buried in nearby Etaples Military Cemetery in France.

Harry was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. It would seem he was promoted to Lance Corporal at some time. His name is recorded on the Pyalong State School Honour Roll.

During the war his father was living in St Kilda where he received by post Harry’s effects including a photo and letters. Later he received Harry’s medals, a memorial scroll and plaque. His brother Thomas also served in World War One returning home in 1919.

Harry Vinicome Photo: Australian War Memorial

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 10 May 2016

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Claus Valdemar Gronn

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Private 4788

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.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 17 November 2015, p17

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Catherine O’Connor

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Nurse

Catherine (Katie) was born in 1870 in Kilmore, the daughter of Patrick O’Connor and Elizabeth Seymour. At birth she was registered as Kate Margaret but later was known as Catherine. After school she trained for three years in nursing at Melbourne Hospital obtaining her Melbourne Hospital Certificate and her Victorian Nursing Certificate . She then nursed as a sister in charge of medical and surgical wards at Melbourne Hospital.

Katie enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Melbourne on November 3, 1914 as a nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) and embarked in Melbourne on November 28, 1914, on the Kyarra taking the 1st AGH to Cario, via Alexandria.  Nurses with at least three years service at a recognised hospital and aged between 21 and 45 years could apply to serve overseas.  For some reason Katie lowered her age from 44 years to 37 years on enlistment.

Katie first served in Egypt at the Hellioplis Hotel, the base for the 1st AGH in Cario from early 1915 to April 1916. This hospital expanded rapidly during the Gallipoli campaign. Katie was promoted to Sister on December 1, 1915, and was transferred to the 1st AGM at Rouen, via Marseilles in France in April 1916.

In France, the 1st AGH was based at the racecourse at Rouen from 1916 to late 1918, west of the Western Front.  It is said that 90,000 casualties passed through its wards during this period.  Katie’s service record indicates that she was attached to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS) from April 1917 until November 1917. Stations such as this were established almost “in the front line”.  During this time Katie was also temporarily transferred for short periods to the 32nd CCS, 46th CCS,  and also spent leave in the UK, Paris and Trouville.  It is likely Katie held a senior position with the 1st AGH from November 1917.

Katie was mentioned in despatches on April 7, 1918, as confirmed in the Commonwealth Gazette of October 24, 1918. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) on January 1, 1919, as reported in the Commonwealth Gazette of May 23, 1919.

Katie left Rouen in November 1918 for England and returned to Melbourne on the Somali, arriving on February 8, 1919. She was welcomed home in Kilmore in early March. Her appointment was terminated on April 16, 1919. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star.

Katie died on July 30, 1949 in Melbourne and was buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery where her headstone can be seen today. Her name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll in the Memorial Hall.

Nurse Katie O'Connor
Nurse Katie O’Connor

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 12 May 2015, p10

 

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Elizabeth Geoghegan

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Nurse

Elizabeth was born in 1878 in Kilmore, the second daughter of Terence Joseph Geoghegan and Eliza Dargan. After school she trained for three years in nursing at Melbourne Hospital obtaining her Melbourne Hospital Certificate and her Victorian Nursing Certificate. She then nursed as a sister in charge of medical and surgical wards at the Melbourne Hospital.

Elizabeth enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service at Melbourne on 28 November 1914 aged 36 years as a nurse with the 1st Australian General Hospital (AGH) and embarked in Melbourne on 5 December 1914, on the Kyarra taking the 1st AGH to Cairo, via Alexandria.

Elizabeth first served in Egypt at the Hellioplis Hotel, the base for the 1st AGH in Cario from early 1915 to April 1916. This hospital expanded rapidly during the Gallipoli campaign. Elizabeth was promoted to Sister on 1 December 1915, and was transferred to the 1st AGH at Rouen in France, via Marseilles in April 1916.

In France, the 1st AGH was based at the racecourse at Rouen from 1916 to late 1918, west of the Western Front. It is said that 90,000 casualties passed through its wards during this period. Elizabeth’s service record indicates that she was attached to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station from November 1916 until August 1917. Stations such as this were established almost “in the front line”. She was transferred for short periods to the 3rd AGH and 5th AGH and also spent leave in the UK, Paris and Trouville. It is likely Elizabeth held a senior position with the 1st AGH from August 1917.

Elizabeth was mentioned in dispatches on 7 November 1917 as confirmed in the Commonwealth Gazette of 18 April 1918. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class) on 25 February 1918, as reported in the Commonwealth Gazette of 7 November 1918. She transferred to London for duty in late December 1918.

Elizabeth returned to Melbourne in late July 1919 on the Friedrichsruh as Sister in Charge. Her appointment was terminated on 7 December 1919. She was awarded the British War Medal, Victory Medal and the 1914/15 Star.

In 1937 Elizabeth was one of 2,000 Australians who were awarded the Coronation Medal. At the time she was Matron of a Sanatorium in Mont Park. After World War Two she lived at Malvern and later moved to Perth where she died in 1970 aged 91 years.

Elizabeth Geoghegan 3-2
Elizabeth Geoghegan

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 7 April 2015, p13

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Agnes May Semple

AANS 3

Nurse

Agnes May (May) Semple was born in 1879 in Kilmore to Dr William Henry Semple and Anne Devon. May trained at St Vincents Hospital in Melbourne. She enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service in May 1915 and served initially at the Military Hospital in Geelong until August 1916, then at No. 5 Australian General Hospital, St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

In January 1917 May embarked on the Omrah in Melbourne arriving in Plymouth, England on 27 March. She undertook nursing duties at Weymouth on the south coast and at Southall, London, before returning to Australia on the Llanstephen Castle in February 1918. May nursed the injured on board and arrived in Melbourne on 16 April 1918.

Nine months later Nurse Semple sailed from Sydney on the Wiltshire arriving in Suez on 11 December 1918. She nursed at the 31st and 27th General Hospitals in Abbassia, Egypt. May returned home on the troopship Ceramic in February 1919 and during the voyage performed nursing duties, including cases of influenza which caused the ship to be quarantined for several days off Geelong and Sydney.

Nurse Semple was discharged from the Australian Army Nursing Service on 9 May 1919, and was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. She carried on her nursing career and retained an interest in the welfare of 1914-1918 veterans.

May was admitted to Kew Hospital on 13 September 1954 and died on 24 September aged 74 years. Her burial service was held at Christ Church, Kilmore, and at the graveside was attended by many old friends and former service members of both World Wars and included the RSL Service. Her name is recorded on the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll and the Anglican Church Honour Roll.

Agnes May Semple-2
Nurse May Semple

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 9 December 2014, p6

 

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: John Clifford Bowers

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Serial Number 11806

John was born in Kilmore in 1895, the son of Sylvester Bowers and Martha McKinley. He was in the senior cadets for one year, and was a labourer.

John, aged 21 years, enlisted at Melbourne on 18 September 1915. He embarked from Melbourne on Troop transport “Themistocles” on 28 January 1916 as a gunner, having trained at Castlemaine and Maribynong in December 1915. He was at Zeitoun in Egypt with the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC) on 4 March 1916 and was posted to Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force. He disembarked at Marseilles on 19 March and joined the 2nd DAC.

On 1 April John was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance with slight concussion and by the 8 April was back with the 2nd DAC at Moulin Fontaine. He was again discharged from hospital on 1 May and joined 22nd Field Artillery at the end of April and was posted to 21st Battery in July 1916.

John was killed in action by shrapnel to the head and neck on 3 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme, France. He received the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His effects were forwarded to his father Sylvester in Kilmore – wallet, steel mirror, diary and a letter.

John is buried at the Serre Road Cemetery, near Beaumont Hamel, France, and his name is recorded on the Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll which was unveiled by General Birdwood in April 1920, the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church Honour Roll and the Kilmore War Memorial.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 26 August 2014, p6

Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 (Photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Ralph Simon Johnston Knight

Private 4455

Ralph Simon Johnston Knight (pictured sitting with his bride) was born in January 1898 at Tantaraboo west of Kilmore, the sixth child of Nehemiah Knights and Alicia Jane Ann Johnston. Sometimes their surname is recorded as Knights but in his army records Ralph’s name is recorded as Knight.

Ralph probably worked on his father’s farm and others at Tantaraboo as a labourer before enlisting on 8 November 1915 at Melbourne. After training at Royal Park, Melbourne, Ralph joined the 21st Battalion in March 1917. His brothers Alby (4453) and Fred (4454) also enlisted about the same time and joined the 21st Battalion.

The 21st Battalion, 11th Reinforcements, including Ralph and his brothers, left Melbourne, on the RMS Orontes on 29 March 1916 for Egypt where he first served with the Anzac Police before joining the British Expeditionary Force to leave for the Western Front. He joined his Battalion in Belgium on 3 October 16 in the Posieres area.

Ralph became sick on 17 November with trench fever and was transferred on 3 December to England where he remained for eleven months attached to the 66th Battalion. He returned to his Battalion in France on 2 November 1917 in the Broodseinde area of the Western Front. On 30 November 17 Ralph’s knee became swollen with dermatitis; he rejoined his Battalion on 2 February 1918.

His Battalion was held in reserve for a rest in early 1918 but when taking part in defending against the German Spring Offensive, Ralph became sick with influenza in June 1918. He rejoined in August taking part in the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin, then transferred to the 24th Battalion in October and proceeded on leave to England. On return to France Ralph was accidentally injured on 6 December 1918 in the left leg at Rouen. After treatment he transferred to England on 31 December 1918 and was on leave in February and March. Ralph left for Australia on 1 April on the Shropshire arriving Melbourne on 16 May and was discharged on 30 June 1919.

He received the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and 1914/15 Star. His name is recorded on the Shire of Kilmore Honour Roll, the Kilmore Church of England Honour Roll and the Tantaraboo State School Honour Roll.

Later in 1919 Ralph married Dorothy (Dot) Valentine Weaver and enlisted in the Victorian Police Force. He died at Rye in January 1978.

Photo of Ralph Simon Johnston Knight sitting with his bride Dot on right in 1919
Photo of Ralph Simon Johnston Knight sitting with his bride Dot on right in 1919

 

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 10 February 2015, p10

 

Ralph Simon Johnston Knight AWM DAOD1612
Ralph Simon Johnston Knight c. April 1916 (Photo: Australian War Memorial)