The KING (AH KING) family are a challenge to research, even more so in recording the war service of the three youngest boys of Thomas AH KING and his wife; my great great grand aunt, Euphemia nee MASON.
Thomas AH KING who was born about 1843 in China had died in 1900 when Ernest was aged thirteen, Edmund eleven and David only five. All eleven of the children’s births were registered with Thomas KING/AH KING as father.
I have previously written about the war service of the two youngest, Edward (Edmund) James and David Alexander.
None of the boys listed their mother as next of kin on their attestation papers.
When their mother married Richard POPE (pretty quick) in 1900 it is said he didn’t want a chinese child in the house so their youngest sister, three year old Rachael, was “put on the State” (made a ward of the state).
She never got to know her family……. another story to come.
Richard POPE died in 1915 and Euphemia married Frederick ELLIS in 1920.
I haven’t yet found where the boys were living at the time but it seems likely they were with their eldest sister Margaret who had married William CLOVER in 1894. Margaret died in 1914.
When researching Edmund and David I didn’t know that Ernest had also enlisted in the First A.I.F. until I found their mother’s death notice in the newspaper archives at Trove .
In the war service records there was only one Ernest KING born at Birchip. He enlisted into the 14th Battalion on the 4th of November 1916. He was later in the 29th Battalion.
His address was given as Holbrook, New South Wales, next of kin was first listed as a friend, Henry COLLYER also of Holbrook. Later the next of kin was changed to cousin, Miss F HOWARD of Upper Edmonton, London.
It looks as though Ernest may have cut all ties with his mother and siblings.
He declared “I Ernest John KING have no occasion to make a will” and to me it looks like the words “Parents forgotten” crossed out.
On the 17th of November 1916 Ernest embarked from Sydney on the SS Port Napier. By March 1917 he was in France. In October that year he sustained severe gunshot wounds to the thigh and face and in November was sent to hospital in England where he spent some months recuperating.
April 1918 saw Ernest at the No 1 Command depot at Sutton Veny.
On the 10th of December 1918 after some further medical issues Ernest returned to Australia on the “Somali” and was discharged from the A.I.F in March 1919.
On looking for further records of Ernest I came across a Will in New South Wales which named his wife as Lydia Violet Thorburn. His occupation was farmer and grazier.
Ernest died on the 8th of January 1940.
Ernest and Lydia had married at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales in 1919. They had 5 children.
In the electoral rolls Ernest’s address after the war was Coppabella near Holbrook, New South Wales.
Interestingly Lydia had been married previously but her first husband turned out to be a bigamist.
From the 1919 New South Wales police gazettes I learned that a warrant was issued in Albury for the arrest of Private William LANE reg # 6887 of the same battalion as Ernest. William was on active service abroad and was also from Holbrook.
He was being charged with bigamy as when he married Lydia at Holbrook in 1916 he had already been married in England, and was still, to an Ann GRIFFITHS of High Ercall in Shropshire.
“There are over 150 soldiers from the Euroa District cited in this book.
A list is available below or simply click on the pdf book link on Kylie’s blog and search the document.
There is also an index at the rear of the book.
Search by Surname as soldiers often are referred to either by nicknames or initials. 🙂
Ernest Anderson (Euroa) SRN: 1111, 10494 -1st BAC/Brigade Headquarters/5thAus.Transport
Arthur Armstrong (Strathbogie) SRN: 1657 -21st Battalion/Trench Mortar Battery
Harry Barrett (Euroa) SRN: 2785 -8th Battalion/5th Pioneer Battalion
John Barry (Euroa/Carlton) SRN: 381 -7th Battalion/1st Pioneer Battalion
William Bateman (Donald/Maryborough) SRN: Lieutenant Colonel -21st Battalion/58th Battalion
Bert Beaton (Euroa) SRN: 1742 -8th Battalion
Francis Peter Beaton or Frank Beaton (Euroa) SRN: 3015, 4063, 1776 -22nd Battalion/51stBattalion
William Beaton (Euroa) SRN: 1912 -14th Battalion
William Belcher or Bill Belcher or Will Belcher (Miepoll South/Euroa) SRN: 223 -4th Light Horse Regiment/13th Light Horse
Charles Bell (Euroa) SRN: 755 -6th Machine Gun Company
Lindsay Bell or Lin Bell (Euroa) SRN: 2275 -3rd Pioneer Battalion
Sid Bell (Euroa) (Euroa) SRN: 5654 -8th Battalion
Herbert Bradford or Bert Bradford (Euroa) SRN: 7 -21st Battalion
Esmond Bunting or Es Bunting (Euroa) SRN: 297 -22nd Battalion
Alexander Burton or Alex Burton (Kyneton/Euroa) SRN: 384 -7th Battalion
Spencer Carne (Donald/Euroa) SRN: 1503 -24th Battalion
Esmond Carrick or Es Carrick (Euroa/Northcote) SRN: 72 -6th Battalion
Francis Charlton or Frank Charlton (Euroa) SRN: 800 -7th Battalion
Robert Charlton (Euroa) SRN: 4685 -Depot Battalion/21st Battalion
Arthur Clery (Violet Town) SRN: 2845 -2nd Pioneer Battalion
Alf Collins (Stanley/Beechworth/Euroa) SRN: 368 -7th Battalion
Maurice Corbett (Euroa/Melbourne) SRN: 2133 – 21st Battalion
James Cornish (Tungamah/Euroa) SRN: 2133 or 2133A -6th Battalion
Phil Cornish or “Nish” (Tungamah/Euroa) SRN: 76 -22nd Battalion Stretcher Bearer
George Cowell (Euroa) SRN: 183 -14th Battalion/4th Pioneer Battalion
Alex Crisfield (Great Western/Fairfield) SRN: 2531 -3rd Pioneer Battalion
Walter Crisfield (Great Western/Fairfield) SRN: 2350 -2nd Pioneer Battalion
Louis Dargatz (Locksley/Euroa) SRN: 530 -6th Battalion
Norman Dargatz (Locksley/Euroa) SRN: 1904 -57th Battalion
William De Boos (Euroa) SRN: 363 -22nd Battalion
Arthur Draper (Euroa) SRN: 4225 -Heavy Battery 4th Division/4th Division Artillary
William Dunlop or Bill Dunlop (Bendigo/Euroa) SRN: 1826 -8th Training Battalion/ 37th Battalion
Ernie Dunn (Shepparton) SRN: 1165 -24th Battalion
William Dunstan (Ballarat) SRN: 2130 -7th Battalion
Harold Elliott or “Pompey” (Charlton/Northcote) SRN: Lieutenant Colonel -7th Battalion/15th Brigade
Tom Fitzgerald (Euroa) SRN: 22 -7th Headquarters Driver
Jack Footter or John Footter (Boho/Violet Town) SRN: 2174 -21st Battalion
Leslie Ford or Les Ford (Ceres/Euroa) SRN: 5331 -21st Battalion Headquarters Pay Corps
Jack Fothergill (Broadford/Collingwood/Euroa) SRN: 195 -6th Battalion
Keith Gardiner (Euroa) SRN: 1683 -5th Battalion
Archie Gascoyne (Euroa) SRN: 155 -22nd Battalion
George Gascoyne or “Bunny” Gascoyne (Euroa) SRN: 1942 -8th Battalion
George Frederick Glover or Ensign Glover (Euroa) SRN: 4112 -5th Pioneer Battalion
Les Grant (Narracan) SRN: 11 -7th Battalion
Charlie Hamilton (Albury/Euroa) SRN: 1149 -6th Battery/5th Division Artillery
Max Hanley or “Mac” Hanley (Euroa) SRN: 1008 -22nd Battalion
Maurice Harrison (Euroa) SRN: 1952 -14th Battalion
Tom Hastie (Clifton Hill) SRN: 2nd Lieutenant -Headquarters 2nd Infantry Brigade
Sam Hatty (Beveridge/Timboon) SRN: 279 -4th Light Horse
Harry Hayes (Longwood) SRN: 273 -1st Anzac Regiment/ 13th Light Horse Regiment
Henry Alfred Hayes (Euroa/Strathbogie) SRN: 834 -22nd Battalion
Charlie Hill (Winchelsea) SRN: 4729 -21st Battalion/2nd Division Salvage
Bert Hinton or “Judge” Hinton (Euroa) SRN: 516 -3rd Battalion/55th Battalion
Frank Hinton (Euroa) SRN: 907 -17th Battalion
Adolphus Ison or Dolf Ison(Perth) SRN: 2162 -14th Battalion
William Jamieson (Kyneton) SRN: 690 -7th Battalion
Arthur Johnston (Euroa/Balwyn) SRN: 600 -14th Battalion
Fred Johnston (Euroa) SRN: 598 -14th Battalion – Bugler
Robert Johnston or Bob Johnston (Euroa/Perth) SRN: 313 -28th Battalion -CQMS
William Johnston (Euroa) SRN: 10871 -Headquarters 3rd Division
Thomas Jones (Warrandyte/Longwood) SRN: 13 -7th Battalion Headquarters
Harold Kennedy (Euroa) SRN: 810 -7th Battalion
Ernie Kerslake (Euroa) SRN: 2026A -26th Battalion
Fred Kiellerup (Narrandera) SRN: 1047 -6th Battalion
Herbert Kong Meng (Melbourne/Longwood) SRN: 21 – Headquarters Light Horse
Joe Lavery (Euroa) SRN: 1742 -2nd Pioneer Battalion
James Leonard or Jim Leonard (Euroa) SRN: 393 -7th Battalion
Leo Leonard (Euroa) SRN: 900 -21st Battalion
Michael Leonard (Euroa/Fitzroy) SRN: 3083 -6th Battalion/58th Battalion
Tom Leonard (Richmond/Euroa) SRN: 172 -23rd Battalion/62nd Battalion
Edward Lewis or Eddie Lewis (Euroa) SRN: 1535 -24thBattalion
John Lewis or “Doc” Lewis (Sydney/Euroa) SRN: 5705 -7th Battalion
Tom Liddell (Euroa) SRN: 769 -23rd Battalion
Harold Locke (Euroa/Violet Town) SRN: 2nd Lieutenant -Cyclist
George Lydiard (Balmattum/Euroa) SRN: Lieutenant -13th Light Horse/ 5th Division Cavalry
Tom Mackrell (Nanaweeu) SRN: 662 -24th Battalion
Thomas Maher or Tom Maher (Euroa) SRN: 2921 -7th Battalion
William Maher (Avenel/Euroa) SRN: 2917 -7th Battalion
Gordon Maxfield (Longwood) SRN: 2nd Lieutenant -21st Battalion
Leslie Maygar (England/Longwood) SRN: Captain -4th or 8th Light Horse
Charles McCombe (Euroa) SRN: 189 -23rdBattalion/65th Battalion
Russell McCombe (Euroa) SRN: 190 -22ndBattalion or 23rd Battalion
George McCoombe (Euroa/Violet Town) SRN: 5058 -24th Battalion
Joseph McEntee (Beechworth/Euroa) SRN: 2103 -37th Battalion
Francis McFarlane (Violet Town) SRN: 1988 -7th Battalion C Co
William McGregor or Bill McGregor (Wangaratta) SRN: 1535 or 1535a -24th Battalion
Jack McIvor or John McIvor (Macorna) SRN: 1150 & 1568 -22nd Battalion/65th Battalion
George McLeod (Euroa) SRN: 2861 -PioneerBattalion
William McNay (Unknown) SRN: 1076 -6th Battalion Driver
Archie Morgan (Euroa) SRN: 370 -7th Battalion
Arthur Morgan (Euroa) SRN: 225 -21st Battalion
Bert Morgan (Euroa) SRN: 2037 -22nd Battalion
William J.P. Morgan (Euroa) SRN: 893 -14th Battalion -Bugler
Stanley Muir (Elsternwick) SRN: 152 -4th Light Horse/68th Flying Squad
William Nowotna or Bill Nowotna (Dunkeld/Euroa) SRN: 567 – 13th Light Horse
John O’Connor (Melbourne) SRN:875 -22nd Battalion
David Owen (Benalla) SRN: 320 -4th Light Horse
Arthur Parker (Ballarat/Euroa) SRN: 294 & 9748 -Hospital Transport Corps/ 13th Field Ambulance
William Pezet or Will Pezet or Bill Pezet (Euroa/Bacchus Marsh) SRN: 403 -7th Battalion -Driver
Peter Pinder (Ireland/Gooram) SRN: 16 -7th Battalion Headquarters
Joe Power (Euroa) SRN: 609 -8th Light Horse
Hugh Prowd or Hughie Prowd (Bonnie Doon/Euroa) SRN 5808 -7th Battalion
Alexander Ramage (Violet Town) SRN: 5075 -24th Battalion
Edward Ramage (Violet Town) SRN: 701 -24th Battalion – Driver
Reg Ramage (Violet Town) SRN: 5076 -24th Battalion
Bill Rea (Boho/Queenscliff) SRN: 341 -7th Battalion – Signaller
Lindsay Cyril Reid (Deniliquin/Fitzroy) SRN: 989 -7th Battalion
Albert Riddle (Girgaree East/Euroa) SRN: 1637 -Naval & Military Expeditionary Force
Charlie Sanderson (Violet Town) SRN: 742 -4th Light Horse/4th Machine Gun Squadron
William Sargood or Bill Sargood (Euroa/Goorem) SRN: 4769 -24th Battalion
Bertie Saxon or Bert Saxon (Euroa/Violet Town) SRN: 2708 -2nd Pioneer Battalion
Francis Saxon (Brunswick/Euroa) SRN: 2384 -22nd Battalion
Joseph Saxon or Joe Saxon (Euroa) SRN: 1564 -22nd Battalion
William Saxon or Bill Saxon or “Shinner” Saxon (Euroa) SRN: 694 -7th Battalion – Stretcher Bearer
Thomas Saxon or Tom Saxon or “Sack” (Euroa/Violet Town) SRN: 485 -21st Battalion
Herb Sephton (Carlton) SRN: 1188 -7th Battalion
Ernie Sheppard (Euroa) SRN: 2273 & 1556 -24th Battalion
George Slow (England/Rutherglen) SRN: 960 -7th Battalion – Stretcher Bearer
Jack Stevenson or John Stevenson (Violet Town) SRN: 2260 -21st Battalion
James Stevenson (Violet Town) SRN: 341 -4th Light Horse/2nd ANZAC Light Horse
Joe Stevenson (Violet Town/Boho) SRN: 2258 -21st Battalion
Ralph Stevenson (Violet Town) SRN: 907 -22nd Battalion
William Stevenson (Violet Town) SRN: 342 -4th Light Horse
Eric Thewlis or Rick Thewlis (Locksley/Euroa) SRN: 69-13th Light Horse/1st ANZAC Army Corp
Frank Tubb (Longwood) SRN: 8 -7th Battalion -Transport – Special Forces
Frederick Tubb or Fred Tubb (Longwood) SRN: Lieutenant -7th Battalion Headquarters
Brian Turner or “Buster” Turner (Euroa) SRN: 3283 -24th Battalion
Theophilus Twomey or Ted Twomey (Euroa) SRN: 2701 -26th Battalion
Jack Underwood or John Underwood (Violet Town) SRN: 356 -4th Light Horse
Dave Wakenshaw (Balmattum/Euroa) SRN: 1041 & 2030B -8th Light Horse/4th Division Artillery
Phil Wale (Benalla) SRN: 1040 -7th Battalion
Albert Wall or Bert Wall (Gowangardie/Violet Town/Molka) SRN: 269 -22nd Battalion
John Wall (Violet Town/Molka) SRN: 270 -22nd Battalion
Roger Wall (Gowangardie/Violet Town/Molka) SRN: 271 -22nd Battalion
Harold Weatherhead or “Long-un” (Camperdown/Euroa) SRN: 303 -7th Battalion – Stretcher Bearer/Anzac Provisional Corp
Jack Weatherhead (Allansford) SRN: 298 -8th Light Horse
Jim Webb or James Webb (Dunnolly/Euroa) SRN: 359 -4th Light Horse
Louis Webb (Mooroopna/Rheola) SRN: 1610 -6th Battalion
George Whitechurch (Avenel) SRN: 645 -4th Light Horse
William Whitechurch (Avenel/Seymour) SRN: 2254 -8th Battalion
Clarence Wignell (Euroa) SRN: 20 -7th Battalion
Everard Wignell (Euroa) SRN: 19 -7th Battalion
Jack Wiltshire or John Wiltshire (Longwood/Caldermeade) SRN: 866 -23rd Battalion
Roy Wiltshire or Aubery Wiltshire (Longwood/Armadale) SRN: 2nd Lieutenan -22ndBattalion
Jack Wynn or John Wynn (Scotland/Euroa) SRN: 1501 & 1630 -22nd Battalion”
Hubert OXLEY was born in Kilmore, Victoria, Australia on the 4th of December 1882, the youngest son of John OXLEY and Emma nee MORGAN. Emma, my great-great-grand-aunt, born in Abergavenny, Wales was the eldest daughter of my maternal 3rd great-parents, John MORGAN and Sarah nee BLOUNT.
By 1914, Hubert was living in New Zealand as in that year he married New Zealand girl Amelia Beatrice BENJAMIN. She was born in New Plymouth in 1883 and died in Auckland in 1961.
At the outbreak of World War One, Hubert was a Head Waiter working for the Royal Hotel in Auckland. His address was first written in as 71 Burnley Terrace, Auckland and at some later stage that was crossed out and recorded as Richardson road, Mt Roskill.
He enlisted into the 1st battalion E Company of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on the 19th of October 1915 and in March 1916 was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Auckland Regiment.
On enlistment Hubert was nearly 33 years old. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall with brown eyes, fair hair and fair complexion.
Hubert’s total period of war service was 3 years and 214 days. Of these, 1 year and 85 days were served in New Zealand and 2 years and 129 days overseas. Part of 1916 he spent in the Egyptian and 1916, 17 and 18 in the Western European theatres of war.
April 1916 saw Hubert embark for France on what looks like the ship ASCANIUS.
In May 1916, he went AWOL and had to forfeit 3 days pay.
On the 21st of February 1917, according to the court of enquiry at St. Clotilde, Douai Hubert was officially reported missing believed wounded . He was captured at Armentieres.
“Wounded at Fleurbaix by bullet, during a raid on enemy line. Hit in German front line trench, and taken unconcious as a prisoner of war to Douai hospital, arm operated on by German M.O at Douai 23 Feb 1917, head of right humerus removed and also fragments of upper end of shaft of humerus. Wounds discharged freely for six months. Sent to England as “Exchange Prisoner” 6 January 1918, admitted Walton 10 January 1918.”– from War service record
Hubert was repatriated to Rotterdam, England by the central prisoners of war committee at St Clotilde Douai Germany. He was admitted to the military hospital at Tooting and later the Number 2 New Zealand hospital at Walton on Thames.
He embarked for New Zealand on the Athenic.
Amelia had to write to ask where to send mail to her husband.
TREATMENT IN HOSPITAL.
Interesting experiences of the life of a prisoner of war in Germany are related in letters received by Mrs. H. Oxley, of Norman Street, Rocky Nook, from her husband, Private Hubert Oxley, who, when his last letter was written, on January 19, was a patient in the Walton on Thames Hospital.
“Our battalion,” writes Private Oxley, raided their trenches, near Armentieres on February 21, 1917. It was a successful raid. About 50 prisoners were taken, and I saw many dead behind their lines later in the day. Our company had to go to their support. The German artillery plastered their front line as soon as our guns opened on to their trenches, so they must have known a raid was on. Just over their front trench I was badly hit. I got it in both arms, legs, back, and shoulder. When I came to my senses it was daylight. Half-a-dozen ‘Jerries’ were firing over the top of me, and then they took cover. Our artillery opened again, and I laid there, expecting to go up. and wondered how long 1 would have to wait.
“When tilings quietened I was taken away to a dressing-station behind their lines, and I remembered being put into a motor-ambulance. I think it must have been the following morning I found myself in a hospital bed. They gave me something to drink, then carried me to the operating room, and two officers plied me with questions, a third looked on and listened, whilst a fourth, a doctor, worked at my back. I heard something ring on the marble slab; it was a splinter, and of no small size. They gave me brandy, and dressed my wounds, and I was put in a ward near the operating theatre. They got no information from me other than my regiment and number. Two days later I was operated on, and a tube put through me to avoid the discharge going to the lung. I was well treated here. There were about 20 other New Zealanders wounded with me, but mine, being the worse case, I was watched and given special food to enable me to recover.
Thankful to Escape Alive.
I remained there eight weeks, then when the ridge push started they cleared the hospital, thinking no doubt Douai would be captured. We expected to see our troops come. Many shells fell around the place. Norman Faithful and I were sent into Germany to Julich. The rest of the fellows were sent to other places; some, who were well enough, to working camps. They carried us in stretchers to the ambulance cars, and the French people loaded us with cigarettes, bread, eggs, and underclothing. Some of the Germans were brutal keeping the crowd back, but they never interfered with anything that was given to me. We had a two days train journev to Julich. That was a hell. We were there five months, insufficient and bad food and dirt. I was thankful to escape alive from there. We were fed on two slices of black bread, some artificial coffee, and something they called soup each day. We went boxing on for three months like this; then I got my first parcel.
The wounds would not heal owing to the inferior food, and I developed a serious illness that pinned me down tighter to the bed. I lost power in my limbs; I could not see, could not speak. An Englishman used to feed me, and my wounds started discharging worse than ever. The two doctors there said I would live four weeks or five, but no longer. Then, as a last resource, they carried me out in the sun, and I lay in it nearly all day, my wounds being dressed in the evening. Old Sol closed the wounds up in just four weeks, and then I got more parcels, and began to improve, but I still couldn’t move my arms or legs, or see very well, so they sent me to a doctor in Aachen, for nerves, they said, was my trouble.
Very Few Parcels Received.
“Arrived at Aachen, I began to improve. The nurses were kind and attentive. and the doctors good, but there was a lack of food, and very few parcels found me, except one lot. However, I got electric massage and baths there, and by the time I was able to walk I was informed that I would be exchanged.”
In a letter written at sea, and dated January 4, 1918, Private Oxley relates further experiences.
“I am in perfect health now,” he says, “with the exception of my right arm, and that annoys me but I think I should be thankful because there are some terrible cases on the ship, and I have no pain to suffer. The doctor says it will get all right again, probably in 12 months, and I think I will have an operation in England.
“The Dutch people are all right; they have treated our party very kindly. It feels good to look around now and see kindly faces and hear of our mother tongue. The absence of the spiked helmet and the fixed bayonet is greatly appreciated.
Fare on Christmas Day.
“I have been six weeks on the go since first the Germans told me I was for exchange. I had just been two months at Aachen, where I had arrived from Julich Lazarette, after spending five months in the latter place-five months that are likely to live in my memory, for it was an awful place for lice, dirt, starvation, and death. I wrote to the High Commissioner from there, and so did Faithful. I think our letters must have got through to England, and he claimed us, because it was a great surprise to us when we were bundled off. The Germans had often told us we wouldn’t get exchanged. You know, I lived like a hot-house plant, indoors for months. I began getting my parcels in July, and in two weeks I was fat by just allowing myself a little of something good and refreshing each day.
I received only two of your parcels, but they were much appreciated. Great excitement reigned in my ward on November 25. “Oxley for exchange.” So started off from Aachen to Cologne, then a train ride to Coblenz, then to Mannheim internment camp, where I spent three months and two days, and I believe I’d have starved had I not dropped across one of the old prisoners who had been in Germany since Mons. He was getting his parcels, but he fed half a dozen of us there, so there was not much. Our parcels, of course, never followed us, and we were in hopes of getting away before Christmas, so we soon ran out of food, and began selling our shirts and socks to the French for biscuits. These also were not to be procured after a day or two, so there was nothing for it but to dine on some horse bean soup. On Christmas I Day it was flavoured with fishes’ roes.
“A big batch of Italians are in this camp, and it would make your heart ache to see them, they are just kept from starvation. The searching operations commenced, and lasted a day in this camp. The Germans went through all one possessed; searched the lining of our coats, etc.. and then we started on an all-night journey to Cologne, and my, didn’t it freeze in that train. Arrived at Cologne, we changed trains, and then were dumped once more in Aachen remained there three days, underwent another search we got good food and plenty of it here – and then put on a comfortable hospital train, and finally alighted in Rotterdam.
One of the first New Zealand soldiers to be released from captivity in Germany was Private Hubert Oxley, of the 2nd Auckland Battalion, who recently returned to the Dominion. He was severely wounded during a raid at Fleuxbaix in February, 1917, and was taken prisoner. Under the arrangements for the repatriation of disabled soldiers. Private Oxley was released at the end of last year, his right arm having been rendered virtually useless by the wounds he had received. His experience during the 11 months he spent as a prisoner of war have been related by the returned soldier.
Describing the raid, Private Oxley stated that he had just reached the German front line, or what remained of it after the preliminary bombardment when he was struck by a piece of shell and “knocked out.” Although he did not immediately lose consciousness, he was unable to move. “When the firing from our guns had quietened down,” Private Oxley continued, “about a dozen Germans emerged from their retirement and came straight towards me. Two of them came over, and, after relieving me of my bombs, half-dragged me to an advanced dressing station in their subsidiary line. There I was left lying outside for a good two hours, until the last of their own wounded had received attention.
WOUNDED OFFERED FOOD.
“It was while at this place that I learned that I was not the only New Zealander who had been unlucky enough to be taken prisoner. Eventually our turn came, and in the course of a hurried patching up I found I was badly hit in legs, arms, shoulder, and body.
After this I was wheeled in a truck for about two miles to a clearing station, where I lay for the remainder of the day. At this place ample evidence of the deadly effects of our morning’s work was to be seen in the crowds of wounded Germans. It was very cold, and I lay on my plank waiting and shivering. Several times Red Cross men offered me coffee and bread, but I refused, being too ill to eat. They covered me with blankets, and in due course my turn came to be dressed.
From then on I only seem to have a hazy recollection of occurrences. I remember a motor ambulance, and some of our fellows saying something to me—a great deal of bustle and excitement, and strange faces at another stage of the journey. Also, I remember calling for water, and a kind nurse’s face watching over me as she put the drink to my lips! Next I awoke in a comfortable bed, and a very tall man in white was looking intently at me. Again I was offered food and refused.
EXPERIENCE IN HOSPITAL.
“Later I was removed to the operating table, where two orderlies held me in a sitting posture while the surgeon proceeded to operate on my shoulder, and probe for pieces of shell. While this was in progress, three military officers appeared on the scene. Two of them plied me with questions, and the third—a good listener—said nothing, but kept his eyes full on mine. Upon receiving no satisfaction from their inquiries, one of them adopted a fierce expression and tried to bounce me into answering. His threats did not worry me, for I was thinking more about the pain the doctor was inflicting on my shoulder. Presently I heard something fall with a ring on the marble slab, and I knew I had been relieved of a piece of shell. I nearly fainted, and the doctor, after giving me some brandy, finished dressing my wounds, and I was carried into a ward near the operating room. Here I recognised Norman Faithfull, of my own company; Fred Kemp, whose leg had just been amputated; Frank Doyle, of the Haurakis; and Matthew Rasmussen, of the 101 Waikatos.
“A few days after, I underwent an operation. As I was the worst case among our boys I was given cocoa and one piece of white French bread and jam for breakfast, a good basin of minced meat and mashed potatoes for the midday meal, at 3 p.m., another slice of white bread and jam, and a cup of coffee (artificial), and at night a piece of bread, a basin of barley, macaroni, or vegetable soup, or perhaps gruel. The others received the same rations, but black bread, no cocoa, and at mid-day instead of meat and potatoes, they received a mug of soup.
“This was at Douai, France, where we remained for some weeks. I had eight wounds, and sometimes lay for seven days without having them dressed. We were visited by a German pastor, and occasionally by a Roman Catholic priest. Russian orderlies brought us water for washing, but there was no soap, and I had mud on my hands and face for many weeks. Every Sunday the French people of Douai sent us three cigarettes and somthing which tasted like plum pudding. It was just the length of one’s finger and coated with chocolate. We used to call it our Sunday tit-bit, and certainly it was very nice. There were funerals every day. The courtyard was just under our windows, we could hear the service being read in German, then the departure of the horses. The French populace always attended the funerals in large numbers.
ECHO OF BRITISH OFFENSIVE.
“At the end of the fifth week most of the New Zealanders had recovered, and were sent to different camps. About the end of the seventh week I noticed a change in the Germans about the place. They were very excited, and argumentive with one another, and from what I could gather the cause of this was fresh news from the battlefront. Also I noticed some British prisoners being brought in. An orderly told us that the British were near, and, taking them by surprise, had captured much ground. The Germans began to pack up and remove the prisoners into Germany. By the end of the eighth week we were awakened one morning by a terrific bombardment which shook every window in the place. This was the Vimy Ridge
affair. Our aeroplanes, too, had been busy, having destroyed part of the railway station and other points of importance. All the New Zealanders had now been removed, with the exception of Faithfull and myself.
“On April 18 we were carried to the railway station, the hospital by this time having been practically cleared. During our journey to the station we must have presented a curious sight to the French inhabitants, as our hair and whiskers had grown very long during our confinement. The French rushed us with gifts, giving to each one a bag containing shirts, socks, towel, soap, and cigarettes, and some of the Frenchmen in their enthusiasm tore off their hats and coats and gave them to us, as we were very poorly clad. They also gave us some bread, biscuits, and raw eggs, and one lady, seeing me in my helpless condition, removed her coat and wrapped it round me. The Germans did not interfere with these acts of kindness, but in some instances they showed great brutality in keeping the crowds back. Alas, these were the last good things we were to receive for some time.
TRANSFERRED TO GERMANY.
“After a journey of two days through France and Belgium, we arrived at Julich, 40 miles beyond Aix-la-Chappelle on April 20. On the journey our food consisted of grain, black bread and coffee. We were removed on stretchers from the train to the hospital, a distance of about a mile. The lateness of the hour—midnight—did not prevent a large crowd of German civilians from gathering around. There was no hostile demonstration—they merely looked on in silence. I was still shivering with the severe cold, and I indicated this to a German, who was helping to carry my stretcher, and he made it his business to procure a coat and wrap it round me. We arrived at last at the hospital, which, like the one at Douai, was for prisoners only. Here were congregated about 50 French and British and from 250 to 300 Russians, and I could not fail to be impressed with the way in which the Russians were utilised to do practically all the hospital work. There were no nurses. The British were distributed all over the place, and I found my bed situated between two Russians.
“And now for a few words about the food. I cannot speak of every hospital and camp where the Germans house their prisoners but I know of five hospitals and one camp, and they are all on a par.
When we opened our eyes in Julich, the first morning we were handed one slice of black bread. I would not like to guess its composition, but it constituted one’s breakfast, together with some vile, black coffee. What did we have for dinner? One day it would be a weak solution of macaroni, another day sauerkraut, or turnip tops. Preserved vegetables were also served out, and they were most objectionable. In the drying process they seemed to have been smothered with charcoal, or some such stuff, and these pieces were thickly scattered all through the food, and it was impossible to remove them.”
IMPRESSIONS OF GERMANS.
Towards the end of the summer Private Oxley had sufficiently recovered to be able to walk, and was then able to take more interest in his surroundings “Business seemed to be dead, traffic almost at a standstill, and the few motor cars I did see bore the Government crest. Old and young men alike were in uniform. Not once did I see a limbless soldier, for the Germans kept their maimed well out of sight. The men, women, and children looked pale and hollow-cheeked, although this part of the town was of the better class. It was no uncommon sight to see children begging from door to door. Before our capture we had often heard stories of the efficiency of German organisation. All I can say is that, so far as my observation went, this state of efficiency did not exist in the hospitals I have seen. At this place in particular the sanitation was disgraceful. There was vermin everywhere—in our beds, clothing, and even in the bandages covering my wounds. They were one Iong nightmare,’ and I shall never forget my feelings of relief when I was moved away. Geese and ducks were allowed to roam about the enclosure, which greatly added to the unhealthy state of the place. The Germans even used the dinner bowls from our wards to feed the poultry.”
Private Oxley again succumbed to illness, and until his recovery was attended with the most kindly care by a Scotch soldier. There was much sickness at the hospital, especially among the Russians, and many deaths occurred. ”In connection with any burials of our men, I would like to say that those of our fellows who were able were allowed to follow the remains, and were given any available khaki. To give the Germans their due, every cortege included a guard of honour and a military band, and they themselves always acted as pall-bearers.”
Hubert’s final discharge as permanently unfit was dated 20th of May 1919. He was awarded a war pension.
From 1928, he and Amelia were living in Richardson Road, Roskill, Auckland. Hubert was a gardener until 1954 he was listed as retired in the electoral roll.
Mary HULME, nee WOOD, is my maternal 4th great grandmother.
She married Daniel HULME at St Pancras Old Church on the 1st of January 1810.
Mary died at Fulham on the 13th of March 1875, age 87 years which puts her birth year around 1788.
In all the census from 1841 to 1871 Mary HULME was a Grocer at 65 High Street, Fulham.
The 1841 census for Fulham stated she was not born in the county.
The 1851 census stated she was born in Fulham
The 1861 census stated she was born in Hertfordshire.
The 1871 census stated she was born in Puckeridge, Hertfordshire.
In the 1861 census living in the same household is her sister, a widow age 65 by the name of Matha (sic) Mary MEAD. She was born at Leatherhead, Surrey. As yet I haven’t found a WOOD/MEAD marriage but the Leatherhead, St. Mary and St. Nicholas Surrey births and baptisms has a record for Martha WOOD born March 18 and baptised April 5, 1795.
Her parents were William WOOD and Mary RADLEY.
Even though Leatherhead is about 20 miles South-West of London and Puckeridge about 30 miles North, I searched around Puckeridge, Hertfordshire for a baptism for Mary WOOD about 1788 and found her listed with parents William and Mary at Standon which is a village adjoining Puckeridge. No mother’s maiden name though.
I then looked for a marriage for William WOOD and Mary RADLEY and found it registered also at Standon in 1788.
I am quietly confident that I have finally found my 5th great grandparents are William WOOD and Mary RADLEY, the parents of Mary HULME nee WOOD!
Also in the Leatherhead, St. Mary and St. Nicholas Surrey births and baptisms with parents William WOOD and Mary RADLEY were Ann born 13th Feb 1798, baptised 4th March 1798 and Charlotte born 3rd March 1801, baptised 29 March 1801.
When it was announced in September 1939 that Australia was once again at war, my mother’s cousin, Allan Percy FLEMING, like his father in WW1, was eager to enlist immediately. At that time, he was a journalist for the Brisbane Courier Mail and being a key member of the senior editorial staff, it took some time to organize a replacement and clear his work commitments.
In late October, along with two Irish pals, Allan went to the recruiting office at the Brisbane town hall. His Irish mates were taken straight in but because Allan was already commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Cadet Corps he was told he would have to wait until someone called him up. Not to be beaten, Allan flew back to Melbourne and without any mention of his commission, enlisted on the 3rd of November, into the 5th Battalion, the same unit as his father had served in, renamed as the 2/5th Battalion.
On enlistment, his next of kin was recorded as Albert Henry Percy FLEMING of 22 Beauchamp Street, Preston. Allan’s war service saw him rise from the rank of Private to Lieutenant-Colonel, decorated, wounded twice, captured, escaped, mentioned in despatches and awarded a military OBE.
Allan did his training at Puckapunyal military camp in Central Victoria. To his annoyance, he was placed on the switchboard instead of being handed a rifle for training. After messing up the connections of a few phone calls such as putting a Brigadier through to a butcher and General Blamey through to the cook he accomplished his mission to be kicked out of brigade headquarters and back to his unit, the 2/5th Battalion.
On the 23rd of November that same year Allan was given his first promotion to Corporal. His officers must have noticed his abilities as after being transferred to 2/8th Battalion’s 17th Brigade,* on the 28th of December he was promoted to Sergeant and on the same day was commissioned as a Lieutenant. On the 14th of April 1940, the 17th Brigade embarked for the Middle East at Port Melbourne on the troopship Dunera, arriving on the 18th of May at El Kantara, Egypt. *(The battalion was originally formed as part of the 17th Brigade of the 6th Australian Division, but in February it was decided to reorganise Australian infantry brigades along British lines, with three battalions instead of four. This meant the 2/8th was eventually transferred to the 19th Brigade but remained part of the 6th Division.)
To greet him as he disembarked at Port Said was his fiance, Margaret Elsie MORELL nee PATTERSON. Margaret’s divorce from Scott Morell had just been finalized and in a courageous act and against many obstacles, she and her friend Edna Harwood traveled to Egypt to meet Allan’s ship.
After quite a few further obstacles, Allan and Margaret were married at Tel Aviv on the 19th of June 1940 in the first AIF Middle East wedding of World War 2.
Margaret was now listed as his next of kin and her address given as C/- The Ritz Hotel, Hayarkon St Tel Aviv. Later address was recorded as 82 Burke Road, East Malvern, Victoria.
Over the next weeks, Allan’s battalion moved from Tel Aviv to Qastina and on to the Gaza Strip. During this Libyan Campaign, Allan was transferred from his platoon to be appointed Battalion Intelligence Officer because of his navigational experience learned in the Scouts. It didn’t involve the usual intelligence work as such, but it was dangerous work gathering information of specifics about the enemy’s position. The Battalion moved on through battles at Bardia, Tobruk, where they suffered heavy casualties and on to Benghazi on the 6th of February 1941. The Italians surrendered the next day.
By early April 1941 they were in Greece trying in vain to stop the German invasion. A fierce battle was fought at Vevi in the North under appalling conditions, but the German force was too strong and retreat was ordered. Major Vasey later claimed that a large percentage of the 2/8th battalion had thrown away their weapons during the retreat.
Even into his old age, Allan Fleming was angry about this and continued to campaign to clear his battalion’s name from the slur in Vasey’s war diary about their retreat from Vevi. Fleming gave his opinion in an oral history interview to Hank Nelson in 1990 for the Australian War Memorial and official war historian Gavin Long states that Vasey’s harsh statement was not all true.
Long wrote about how Allan had remained behind after his brigade had left to gather ‘stragglers’ who were lost and so scattered around the area that they would have had no idea where the rest of their battalion was. He was at the front line directing and making sure the retreating troops knew what to do and how to get out. A commanding officer spotted him and asked what he was doing, saying “We have to get the hell out of here, we’ll all be killed if we stay!” When told that Allan was staying to direct the boys the Officer said he wasn’t going to stay and left.
On the 18th of April, Allan was injured in a bomb blast but made light of it and returned to duty within a few days.
In November 1941 Allan Fleming and Arch Molloy were taken prisoner by the Germans and met with Rommel. An account was given in his obituary in 2001.
From mid-1942 Allan ceased to be seconded to the 2/8th Battalion and was transferred to Air support control where he spent ten months as an instructor to train a small band of Australians to be air liaison officers.
Mid 1943 saw him promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and he returned to active duty in command of New Guinea Force Air Liaison Group at Port Moresby with whom he flew many missions.
By June 1944, Allan had relinquished command of this Air Liaison Group and was appointed GSO 1 (Air) Advanced Echelon, Land Headquarters in Melbourne where he was directly responsible to Lieutenant-General Frank Berryman. In 1945 he was “Mentioned in Despatches”.
The fourteenth of January 1946 saw Allan Fleming granted an honorable discharge from the A.I.F and his distinguished service was recognized a few weeks with the Order of the British Empire (Military).
In October of that year Allan was made an accredited war correspondent for the Herald Newspaper in Melbourne. He was sent to Tokyo to cover the war crimes tribunal. His later commissions included reorganising Australia’s defence intelligence, trade commissioner in Paris, representing Australia in international trade negotiation and next, the greatest switch of all, to Commonwealth parliamentary librarian and, most controversially, to National Librarian.
After he retired Allan was back at work setting up Australia’s first counter-terrorist organisation.
Author Peter Golding, in his book “An Unqualified Success: The Extraordinary Life of Allan Percy Fleming” gives a wonderfully detailed account of Allan’s war service and his life.
William Arthur MITCHELL was the son of James MITCHELL and Janet “Jessie” nee MASON. He was born at Stawell in 1896, the second youngest child of five siblings and eight half-siblings. Jessie MASON was a younger sister of my maternal great-great grandmother, Agnes MASON.
He enlisted as a private in the 5th Battalion, 2nd reinforcements at Broadmeadows, Victoria on the 30th of October 1914. He was 19 years and 2 months of age. Next of kin was his mother Jessie MITCHELL of Princes Street, Stawell, Victoria.
William was five foot nine inches tall and weighed eleven stone one pound.
His complexion was dark with brown eyes and dark brown hair.
For some reason, he has two attestation forms and two service numbers, 1389 and 1266. One attestation form lists his father James Mitchell as next of kin but has no service number, unit information or date joined although the form itself was dated the 30th October 1914 at the bottom of the page.
The second attestation paper gave next of kin as his mother, Jessie MITCHELL of the same address as James.
William was admitted to hospital several times during his service.
In June 1915 at Dardanelles on the Gallipoli Peninsula, he sustained a slight gunshot wound to the scalp and was admitted to the 15th General hospital at Mudros.
In August, he suffered a bout of dysentery and then in September 1915 embarked to England on the HMT Huntsend. Later in September he was admitted “sick” to the 1st southern general hospital Birmingham.
In early April 1916 he was back in Alexandria also on the HMT Huntsend and a couple of days later was back in hospital in Cairo.
By the end of April 1916, William was suffering “Fits” perhaps from the gunshot wound to his head. He was admitted to hospital again, this time at Heliopolis and was discharged due to epilepsy. On the 10th of June 1916, he embarked from Suez to Australia on HMAT Itonus.
In 1917, William married Edith Alberta BOYLE and they had three sons. Jack Stirling Mitchell b 1918, Ivor William Mitchell b 1920 and Roy Douglas Mitchell b 1921. Edith died at Stawell in 1928 and William remarried Hazel Joan ROBINSON in 1939. They had one son.
In a form dated 12th July 1967 William’s widow Hazel, since remarried and with surname Moy, applied for his Gallipoli medallion.
On the bottom of the form Hazel writes – I have Anzac Star, General Service and Victory Medals, in my keeping for my son Allan George Mitchell for whom I am claiming the Gallipoli Medallion.
On the 18th of July 1967 a letter was sent to Central Army Records Office from Mr R.D. Mitchell 16 Railway Avenue Ashwood, also applying for the Gallipoli medallion.
I hereby apply for the Anzac Medallion as mentioned in the newspapers. My father, William Arthur Mitchell, served with the fifth Battalion in the first Word War.
Army Nos 1389-1266, William Arthur Mitchell.
yours truly Roy Mitchell.
I don’t know who got the medallion. It would have been whoever was classed as the closest relative. Perhaps Roy being the eldest son may have.