Tag Archives: New South Wales

ANZAC #6 – Gunner Hubert Gray

Hubert Gray was born in Prahan, near Melbourne, Victoria; the son of John and Jane Gray. He worked as an engine driver, prior to enlisting in the Australian Army on 22 July 1915.

Upon enlistment he was married to Corea Isabel Gray, of Beech Street, Whittlesea, Victoria. He had previously served with I Company of the Rangers, in Victoria. He Attested in Melbourne, when he was 34 years and 10 months old. He was relatively tall at 5 feet 11 1/2 inches, and weighed 11 stone. He had a chest of 35 inches, and 36 1/2 expanded. He had grey eyes, black/brown hair, and was a member of the Australian Church. The only identifying marks he had were vaccination marks, moles and a scar on his left knee.

Upon joining the Army Gray was posted to D Coy, of the 12th Battalion, Australian Infantry. He remained with them until 10 November 1915, when he transferred to the 4th Brigade of the Australian Field Artillery. On 1 April 1916 he was serving with the 3rd Battery in the 8th Field Artillery Brigade. Unlike most Australian Great War troops, Gray remained in Australia for some time after he enlisted. He finally embarked at Melbourne on HMAT Medic (A7) on 20 May 1916, almost ten months after first joining up. He disembarked at Plymouth on 18 July 1916.

Gray did not leave England for the Front, and he was clearly not a well man. On 14 August he was taken ill, and four days later on 18 August 1916  he was taken into Hospital with suspected influenza. Gray was admitted to the 3rd Southern General Hospital, and was discharged three days later. He was back in hospital on 7 September, and this time remained there for some time, being kept in for observation. On 12 September he was tested for meningitis, and given the all clear.

He was still quite ill, however. His medical case notes report that on 6 October he was very thin, and on a low diet. By 10 October he was complaining of intense pain. Although by 14 October he had slightly recovered, was mildly conscious and felt hungry, by 20 October his condition had worsened considerably, but the doctors still had no idea what was wrong with him – he tested negative for typhus. Although he could talk rationally, he was clearly a very sick man. By the end of the month he was unconscious. By 10 November his condition was grave, grave enough for the doctors to perform a lumbar puncture, but he died at 3.45am on 11 November 1916, in the Military Section of Portsmouth General Hospital. He was 35.

After his death, pathology tests confirmed that Hubert Gray had in fact been suffering from chronic meningitis for some time. This would explain why he had been so ill for the previous few months, although his service records do not contain any evidence as to why the doctors failed to diagnose his illness correctly. The negative test for meningitis in September probably threw them off the scent.

Gunner Hubert Gray was buried in Milton Cemetery on 14 November 1916. His family were sent his effects, namely:

2 handkerchiefs, mirror, 3 note books, purse, 2 identity discs, pocket book, clasp knife, pocket knife, 2 combs, 2 hair brushes, shaving brush, badges (various), letters.

Sadly, Hubert Gray’s case is an example of how apparently fit young men could still die of natural causes and illness during wartime. It might not necessarily have been caused by his war service – although a stressful sea voyage and wartime privations cannot have helped – but, all the same, he was in uniform prepared to serve his country and the Empire.

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ANZAC #5 – Private Edward Wake

Royal Australian Army Medical Corps

The Australian Army Medical Corps (Image via Wikipedia)

In the interests of variety, I have decided to break from alphabetical order in our look at the Australian World World One soldiers buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth.

Edward Wake was born in Scottsdale in Tasmania, the son of Edward and Emilie Wake. At some point early in his life they moved to New South Wales, where in 1902 young Edward was apprenticed as a Painter and Decorator. His wife was Victoria Elspeth Wake, and they had one son – Norman Lindsay Wake.

Wake joined the Australian Army on 6 May 1915. At the time he and his family were living at The Glen, High Street, Randwick in New South Wales. He was 5 foot 9 inches tall, weighed 144lbs, had a fair complexion and blue eyes with good eyesight. He had fair hair, no distinguishing marks, and was a Presbyterian.  Interestingly, he stated under ‘previous service’ that he had been a member of the Civil Service Rifle Club for 12 months, hence could be expected to know a Rifle better than most volunteers. Despite this, he was enlisted into the Australian Army Medical Corps.

Edward Wake left Australia very soon after joining up. On 15 May 1915, after only being in the Army for nine days, he boarded the RMS Mooltan from Sydney. Although his servioce reord does not state his destination, it is probable that he went to Egypt, like most of the ANZAC troops. That he had no medical experience or qualifications suggests that he was performing a relatively low skilled role in the AAMC, such as a stretcher bearer or orderly.

On 4 August 1915 he joined the MEF at Gallipoli. He did not serve there for long, before being evacuated to the Island of Mudros on 9 September with Enteric Fever, a disease that was prevalent at Gallipoli. He was eventually admitted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital on Mudros on 2 October 1915. After more than a month in Hospital he was transported to England on the Hospital Ship Mauretania, landing in England on 11 November 1915. He was admitted to the 3rd General Hospital.

Sadly his condition did not improve, and he died in Milton Infirmary in Portsmouth on 18 January 1916, at 12 noon. He was 31. Private Wake was buried at Milton Cemetery on 21 January, with the Reverend Gilmour Neill officiating, observing Presbyterian rites. Wake was evidently a religious man who also enjoyed reading and writing, as his effects were returned in a holdall containing a red cross book, two religious books, writing pad, comb, packet of letters, tin containing knife, pair of scissors, toothbrushes and false teeth.

Sometime after his death Wake’s widow moved to 48 Ernest Street, Crows Nest in New South Wales. Victoria Wake received a pension of £52 per annum, while their son Norman received £13 per annum.

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ANZAC #3 – Private Thomas Fulton

Thomas Fulton was born in Sydney in 1882. The son of John and Catherine Fulton, who lived at 640 Bourke Street, in Surrey Hills in Sydney. Thomas was actually born in the wonderfully Australian-named place of Woolloomoo.

Prior to enlisting in the Army he worked as a Bottle Blower, and had not served an apprenticeship, so was a relatively unskilled worker. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 22 November 1915, at Casula in New South Wales. He was 33 years old, and had not served in the military before. His home address was 26 Cleveland Avenue in Surry Hills. He was quite small at 5ft 4inches tall, weighed 97lbs, had a ruddy complexion, brown eyes with less than perfect vision, was Church of England by religious persuasion, and had a small scar on his left forearm.

Like most ANZAC recruits, Fulton was quickly sent to the Middle East to receive most of his training there. On 18 February 1916 Fulton left Australia, on board the HMAT Ballarat, from Sydney. On 23 March he disembarked at Suez, where he was allocated from the 4th Training Battalion to the 47th Battalion, who were at Serapeum in Egypt. On 2 June the Battalion embarked at Alexandria to join the BEF in France and Belgium, disembarking at Marseilles on 9 June. Thomas Fulton was not in France long before he was taken ill with Scabies. On 24 July he went from the 12th Field Ambulance to the 4th Casualty Clearing Station. After a week’s treatment he returned to his Battalion on 31 July 1916. Scabies was a condition not uncommon on the Western Front, caused by the conditions in which the Scabies mite thrived.

Little more than a week later Fulton was wounded in action during the Battle of the Somme. On 9 August 1916 he received a Gunshot Wound to his leg, and was admitted to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station. The next day he was at the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Wimereux, and two days later he was taken to England onboard the Hospital ship St Denis. By now his wounds were described as a gunshot wound to his foot, and a fractured tibia, presumably caused by the gunshot wound.

On arrival in England he was admitted to the 5th Southern Genrral Hospital in Portsmouth, but his condition did not improve. On 23 August his condition was described as serious, and sadly he died on 24 August 1916, from Tetanus caused by his severe gunshot wound. Tetanus is a disease which is much rarer in the modern world, but could have been contracted through any deep puncture wound. The unsanitary conditions on the Western Front and basic medical care available cannot have helped to keep Fulton’s wound clean.He was buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth. His personal possessions were sent home to Australia, consisting of -

small bag, balaclava, razor, brush and comb, metal mirror, knife, shaving brush, 2 badges, toothbrush, 12 coins, 2 Franc notes.

It seems that after Thomas’s death his father struggled to survive. In 1920 and now living at 721 Bourke Street, he wrote to the Defence Department, pleading for assistance, as Thomas was his only son, and he only had a small Railway Pension to live on. His query was refered to the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions for New South Wales. John Fulton had initially tried to claim a pension based on his sons service in 1917, but had been rejected as he was not seen as a dependant.

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ANZAC #2 – Corporal John Craig

Australian Army Rising Sun hat badge used betw...

Image via Wikipedia

Like most Australians to this day, many of the ANZAC’s were either descended from immigrants, or even immigrants themselves. Corporal John Craig was born in Glasgow in Scotland. Before leaving for Australia he attended public school in Glasgow, and was apprenticed to an ironmonger for two years. It appears that the whole family emigrated to Australia around 1913, as when he enlisted on 18 June 1915 his next of kin were his parents, Andrew and Margaret Craig, who lived at Killingworth, New South Wales. It is also known that Craig had been in Australia for around 2 years before he enlisted.

When he enlisted Craig was 18 years and 10 months old. He was 5 foot and 8 3/4 inches tall, and weighed 140lbs. He had a fresh complexion, with hazel eyes, brown hair, and not unusually for his scottish ancestry, was a Presbyterian. He was a natural born British subject, and worked as a lamplighter prior to enlisting. He had served for 2 years with the Citizen forces, and before that for 6 months in the senior cadets. On enlistment he was drafted to the 17th Battalion of the Australian Infantry, a New South Wales recruited unit in the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade.

On 9 August 1915 Craig left Australia, onboard the trooship HMAT Runic (A54), from Sydney. After arriving at the AIF’s base in Egypt, and a period of training, on 4 October 1915 he joined up with the 17th Battalion at Gallipoli. Like many of his comrades at Gallipoli, Craig was soon struck down with an unpleasant illness – Dysentery. On 1 December 1915 he was admitted to the Hospital Ship Dongola from ANZAC Beach. From there he was transported to the Greek Hospital in Alexandria. He was eventually discharged on 19 January 1916.

After a short period back with his Battalion at Ters-el-Kebir, on  17 March 1916 Craig embarked at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France, disembarking at Marseilles on 23 March. On 30 January 1917, Craig was promoted to Lance Corporal. Not long after this, however, he was admitted to hospital on 14 March 1917 with Trench Foot. He rejoined his Battalion two weeks later on 28 March, before being quickly promoted to full Corporal on a Temporary basis on 19 April 1917.

After Eighteen months on the Western Front, on 1 September 1917 Craig was posted to England, for a well-earned ‘rest’ at the 5th Australian Traning Battalion in England. The 5th Battalion were based at Longbridge Deverill, on Salisbury Plain. Later in the war ANZAC recruits were trained in England prior to going over the Channel, with the ANZAC depot being based on Weymouth. After 6 months in England, during which Craig also attended a Gas Instructors course, he returned to his Battalion in France on 8 March 1918. He was not there long before being struck down with Trench Foot again. On 8 April he was admitted to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station, and from there to the 11th Stationary Hospital in Rouen. His case was obviously serious, for on 18 March he was shipped back to England, and admitted to the 2/1st Southern General Hospital in Dudley Road, Birmingham.

Craig was not fully fit for another 4 months, when on 2 July 1918 he was discharged from a convalescence depot to a training brigade, in order to prepare him for his return to the front line. A month later on 3 August he went to France, via Folkestone, before finally rejoining his Battalion on 10 August 1918.

Although the war only had several months left to run, there was still much serious fighting taking place in 1918. After the Germans last desparate attempt to break through had stalled, the Allies in turn began to push the Germans back towards their own borders. The ANZACS were obviously in the thick of this, for on 5 October 1918 Corporal Craig was seriously wounded. He was admitted to the 58th Casualty Clearing  Station with Gunshot Wounds in his left thigh, left chest, left arm and left hand. From there he was taken to the 47th General Hospital at Le Treport, before going back to England on 26 October. On 28 October he was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital in Portsmouth, at Fawcett Road.

Sadly his wounds were serious, and his condition did not improve. Corporal Craig died at 4.15am on 17 November, in Portsmouth. The cause of death was given as a shrapnel round in his right thigh, and a compound fracture of the femur – wounds that differed somewhat from those described when he was first wounded. The First World War had ended six days earlier.

The actual report of Craig’s death is given below, verbatim:

Compound fracture left femur. Large wound outside left thigh just above knee fragments of femur can be seen. Another wk in hospital space healthy. Also wnd in upper and outer part of left upper arm no injury to deep structure. Same day haemorrhage occurred on the night of 15/11/1918 was plugged. Ch3 was given and wound opened up considerable amounts of haemorrhaging from which he did not recover and he died 4.15am 17/11/1918 as result of secondary haemorrhage.

Craig was buried in Milton Cemetery on 21 November 1918, in a full military funeral with a firing party, bugler, band and pallbearers, officiated by Reverend Gilmour Neil. The undertaker was Mr A.G. Stapleford, of Craswell Street in Portsmouth. Although there were no friends or family present, AIF HQ in London was represented.

His personal effects were received by his family in Australia in 1919 – 1 Jack Knife, 4 discs, 1 note book, 1 wrist watch, 1 photo case, 1 pipe, 1 fountain pen, 1 corkscrew, badges, 1 wallet, photos, postcards, letters, 1 L1/2d stamp, 2 prs sock, 1 coin, 1 purse. Also in 1919 a Miss P. Ward, from Rozelle in New South Wales, wrote to the Australian Army, asking for Craig’s relatives address, as he had been very kind to her eldest brother when he was killed, and had written to her describing how he was killed – a very touching personal story amongst the administrative details of a service record.

In 1920 Craig, along with the other Australians buried in Milton Cemetery, was exhumed and re-interred, in order to lie next to his countrymen. In a strange quirk of fate a very brave and very distinguished soldier found himself buried in the country that he had left seven years before, after sailing to the other side of the world to start a new life.

If anybody has any information about Corporal John Craig, or any of the other Australian soldiers buried in Portsmouth, please feel free to contact me.

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ANZAC #1 – Private Andrew Boyd

Road to Pozières: In the distance the village ...

Pozieres (Image via Wikipedia)

I mentioned some time ago that I am going to try and research the twelve Australian Great War Soldiers buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth. Thanks to the Australian National Archive’s wonderfully open approach to service records, I can now begin to tell their stories.

46 Private Andrew Boyd

Andrew Boyd was born in Scone in New South Wales. He joined the Australian Imperial Force on 7 April 1915, taking his oath on 12 April 1915. He was 23, a Carpenter, and his parents were Andrew and Mary Boyd, of Hill Street in Scone. Boyd was 5ft 9 1/4 inches tall, weighed 153lbs, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and good eyesight, brown hair, and was a Presbyterian. He effectively joined the AIF on 26 May 1915, at Liverpool, NSW.

Boyd joined the 18th Battalion of the Australian Infantry, part of the 5th Infantry Brigade. He was a stretcher bearer, and also a member of the Battalion’s band. On 25 June 1915 he embarked from Sydney on the HMAT Ceramic. Most Australian recruits left Australia soon after joining up, and underwent training in the Middle East. From there the ANZAC Division fought at Gallipoli, a campaign for which the Anzacs will always be remembered.

on 28 November 1915 he was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance, and then on 4 December 1915 he was admitted to St Andrews Hospital in Malta, having been taken there by the Hospital Ship Glenart Castle. He was suffering with enteric fever, by no means a rare illness at Gallipoli. By 16 January 1916 he was in Alexandria, and on 22 January he was admitted to the Australian Hospital in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. He was not discharged as fit for duty until March of the same year. Medical reports suggest that it took some time to recover from even a mild attack of enteric fever, as Boyd’s case was described by doctors. At one stage a medical assesment recommended that he be sent back to Australia, but for whatever reason, this did not happen.

On 18 March 1916 he left Alexandria, sailing to Marseille to join the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front. On 18 June Boyd was punished, for being in a restricted area without a pass, and being found in an estaminet (bar) without permission. He was awarded 168 hours of Field Punishment no.2 – being shackled.

On 2 August 1916 Boyd was wounded in action, during the Battle of the Somme. The Germans had just launched their final counter-attack on the Australians during the Battle of Pozieres. Boyd was admitted to 1/2nd Field Ambulance with a shell wound in his thigh, and was transferred behind the lines to 44th Casualty Clearing Station. 6 days later he was put on an Ambulance Train to 13th General Hospital in Boulogne. On 12 August Boyd was taken onboard the Hospital ship St Denis to England. The same day he was admitted to the 5th Southern General Hospital in Portsmouth, where his injuries were described as severe. By 22 August he was seriously ill, and sadly his condition did not improve. He died on 30 August, from the gunshot wound to his left thigh and contusion of the abdomen. Private Boyd was buried in Milton Cemetery, Portsmouth.

His personal effects were sent on to his father -  cap comforter, brush, stamp, book letters, postcards, 2 small bags, 2 testaments, pipe, razor, identity disc, pendant, 2 note books, mirror (broken), wallet, shaving brush, belt, photos, one franc note, 2 stylo pens, 2 handkerchiefs, toothbrush, 2 souvenirs, pipe lighter, scissors, ring, 8 badges (various).

Intriguingly, Boyd’s files contain a letter from his only surviving sibling 50 years later. In 1967 David Boyd wrote to the Army Records Office requesting his brothers Gallipoli star. At the time David Boyd was living at 18 Edinburgh Road, in Marrickville, NSW.

If anyone can help with any aspect of Private Boyd’s story, or any of the other ANZACS buried in Portsmouth, I would be very pleased to hear from you.

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Austrlian war dead buried in Portsmouth

I noticed an article in the Evening News recently appeaing for information about Australian soldiers from the First World War who are buried in Portsmouth. There are 12 ‘Diggers’ buried in Milton Cemetery, and the Cemeteries Office in Portsmouth are looking for information about them. In particular, it would be great if we could identify any family living in the UK in time for the next ANZAC day. These guys are buried such a long way for home, and it would be nice to do something for them.

Fortunately we are in luck, as Australian Great War Service Records are readily available, for free, on the Australian National Archives website. And the couple I have looked at so far run to 80+ pages of information! If anybody knows anything about them, or is a relative, feel free to get in touch and I will pass any info on to the Cemetery Office.

These are the 12 Diggers, and what we know about them so far:

BOYD, Andrew
Private, 46, 18th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of wounds 30 August 1916. Age 24.
Son of Andrew and Mary Boyd, of Hill St., Scone, New South Wales.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 14.

CRAIG, John Henry D.
Corporal, 1912,
17th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of wounds 17 November 1918. Age 22.
Son of Andrew Craig and Margaret Clelland Craig, of Killingworth, New South Wales. Born in Scotland.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 11.

FULTON, Thomas
Private, 1996,
47th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of wounds 24 August 1916. Age 33.
Son of John and Catherine Fulton,
of 640, Bourke St., Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 13.

GEARING, Harry Alan Cheshire
Lieutenant,
Australian Army Service Corps.
Died of diabetes 16 March 1917. Age 31.
Son of Henry George and Mary Gearing;
husband of Bertha Gearing.
Grave Ref. I. 1. 40.

GRAY, Hubert
Gunner, 19773,
3rd Div. Ammunition Col.,
Australian Field Artillery.
Died of sickness 11 November 1916. Age 35.
Son of John and Jane Gray;
husband of C. I. Gray, of Beech St., Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia.
Born at Prahran. Victoria.
Grave Ref H. 19. 9.

JONES, Clarence Morgan
Private, 4527,
57th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of sickness 10 December 1916.
Son of Charles James and Mary Ann Jones,
of Oatlands, Tasmania.
Born at Bothwell, Tasmania.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 15.

LYNCH, Thomas Francis
Private, 130,
32nd Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of wounds: 18 December 1916.
Son of Henry Francis and Mary Lynch,
of 42, Tfould St., Adelaide, South Australia.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 5.

MELVILLE, Andrew
Driver, 227,
24th Bn, Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of sickness 28 August 1918. Age 21.
Son of Andrew and Sophie Melville,
of 117, Peel St. North, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 12.

PEARSON, Thomas Owen
Private, 69/A,
25th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of wounds 26 July 1916. Age 20.
Son of Thomas and Ellen Mabel Pearson,
of Wilmington St., Newmarket, Queensland.
Born at Maitland, New South Wales.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 4.

ROBERTS, John Thomas
Private, 2882,
44th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died of sickness 11 November 1917. Age 28.
Son of William John and Esther Roberts,
of 56, Stirling St., Footscray, Victoria, Australia.
Born at Mount Egerton, Victoria.
Grave Ref H. 19. 7.

WAKE E.
Private, 4482,
3rd Aust. Gen. Hosp., Australian Army Medical Corps.
Died of sickness 18 January 1916. Age 31.
Son of Edward George and Emilie Wake;
husband of V. E. Wake,
of 45, High St., North Sydney, New South Wales.
Born at Scottsdale, Tasmania.
Grave Ref. H. 19. 8.

Wall, George Savoury Lipscombe
Lance Corporal, 6104,
37th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.,
Died: Drowned 3 August 1918. Age 25.
Son of Francis Gordon Wall and Blanche Wall,
of Wells Rd., Mordialloc, Victoria, Australia.
Born at Thorpdale, Victoria.
Grave Ref. H. 19.6.

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