Tag Archives: Western Front

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: John Hammond

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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.

Corbie Community Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 8 December 2015.

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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: 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: Herbert Thomas Skehan

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Private 2142

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.

Information provided by Phil Skehan, Kilmore

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

Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, Belgium. Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, Belgium. Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

Centenary of WW1; Kilmore Remembers: Samuel Ernest Crane

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Private – 2140

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.

Reproduced in the North Central Review, 3 March 2015, p10

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)