John Hammond (known as Jack) was born on 7 July 1891 in Kilmore, the eldest child of hotelier Thomas and Alice Teresa Hammond (nee Mulvey). Thomas was the licensee of the Railway Hotel (now Macs) and his father John, the Red Lion. Jack was educated at Assumption College, Kilmore and then worked in the Kilmore Post Office from 1907.
Jack enlisted at Kilmore on May 1, 1916 and was allocated as a private, 3678, to the 8th Reinforcements, 29th Battalion. After basic training at Broadmeadows, he attended the Signals School for two months, and then left Melbourne on the Orsova on August 1, 1916 for Plymouth, England.
Jack undertook further training before joining his Battalion on the Western Front, France in January 1917. He probably was involved in defeating a German counter attack at Beaumetz on March 23. Then on March 28 Jack was admitted to hospital in Rouen with a septic right heel and did not return to the field till late August 1917. The 29th then took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood in late September 1917.
Jack took leave in England in January 1918 and in April he was again in a field hospital with scabies. On April 24, Jack was transferred to the 5th Division, Signals Company as a Sapper. He may have been running messages from the front line to Headquarters, and he probably took part in the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux which recaptured the town from the Germans in two days in late April.
The 5th Division then followed the retreating Germans during May towards the Somme, and on May 13, Jack was killed in action. He was buried in the Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension at Picardie, France. His family and fellow postal workers placed memorial notices in the Kilmore Advertiser on June 1, 1918.
Jack was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In addition his family received a Memorial Scroll, a Memorial Plaque, the King’s Message and Jack’s effects.
His sacrifice is recognised on the Kilmore War Memorial, the Kilmore Shire Honour Roll in the Memorial Hall, and the Assumption College Honour Roll.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 8 December 2015.
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
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.
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.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 19 January 2016
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.
Reproduced in the North Central Review, 9 February 2016
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.
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.