Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Otton's Service

Just off the phone from my cousin Warrick - he is the third generation to serve in his family and has been the ANZAC Day march leader in Bega for some years. I had intended on blogging about his grandfather's service this year, but as most of you will have seen I blogged about my husband's HAMBLYN family.

Wok had questions about his grandfathers service, which I could not quickly answer over the phone, so dearest Warrick, this is the start of an answer for you.

We are lucky in Australia that the only bombing we experienced in WWII did not destroy our early military records as they did in countries Up Over.

The National Archives of Australia in Canberra have digitised the records they hold of Australian Military service during the Great War.

Back in 2002 I visited my Uncle Keith Edward OTTON and was fortunate to be able to scan the images he held of his father, Edward Thomas (Ted) OTTON - the son of Henry and Elizabeth (Bessie) OTTON (nee JAUNCEY).

Henry & Bessie OTTON - Ted is in the front row on the stool on the far right
photo held by Bega Valley Museum

Ted was the fifteenth born of seventeen children (fifteen growing into adulthood), no doubt signing up was an opportunity to earn a regular income, have an overseas adventure and help him to make his way in the world. He would also have been able to financially support his recently widowed mother, as his father Henry had passed away 16 May 1915 at their Ottonville home near Bega.

Ted served with his mate Dan Gowing in the 30th Battalion
Left to Right: Dan Gowing and Ted Otton

His surviving service records can be found at the National Archives Australia site. They show that Ted signed up on 12 February 1916 and took his oath of enlistment at the RAS Grounds in Sydney on the 7th March 1916. Born and bred in Bega the 29 year old Ted had travelled north to enlist. At these earlier stages of enlistment the average age of those signing up was in their mid twenties.

In March 1916 he was sent to the Battalion Depot AIF at Bathurst and on 15 April he was transferred to the 8th Reinforcements of the 30th Battalion at Kiama where no doubt he under went further training. Ultimately he left for the front on the Ballarat from Sydney on 5 August 1916 heading for Plymouth, finally leaving from Folkestone for the front on the 5 December 1916 on the SS Princess Victoria arrving in Continental Europe on 12 December 1916.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the 30th Battalion entered Bapaume in early 1917.

"After this, for the remainder of the year the battalion had a relatively quiet time but nevertheless took part in two main engagements—Bullecourt and Polygon Wood—where they were employed mainly in flank protection. When the Germans launched their Spring Offensive in early 1918, the 30th found itself in reserve for the majority of the time along with the rest of the 5th Division.[4] Once the offensive was defeated, a brief lull followed in June and July during which the Allies sought to regain the initiative, launching a series of "Peaceful Penetration" operations;[7] at this time, the 30th undertook a number of raids around Morlancourt before conducting an attack there on 29 July. On 8 August, they joined the Allied Hundred Days Offensive that was launched at Amiens on 8 August 1918, spearheading the 5th Division's attack up the Morcourt Valley. A series of advances followed as the Allies gained momentum, pushing their way through the Hindenburg Line defences around the Somme. The 30th's final involvement in the fighting came in late September – early October 1918 when they took part in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal, which saw a joint Australian and American force breach the Hindenburg Line.[4] Following this, the units of the Australian Corps, which had been severely depleted during the fighting in 1918, were withdrawn from the line for rest and re-organisation at the request of the Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes.[8] As a result, they were still out of the line when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. Following this the demobilisation process began and slowly the battalion's numbers were reduced as men were repatriated back to Australia in drafts. Finally, in March 1919, the 30th Battalion was disbanded.[4]" Ref

During 1917 Ted experienced a number of admissions to hospital while he was stationed in France, including a couple for Diptheria.

Ted Otton

A week after Armistice Ted was AWL from 9am till 10pm on 17 November 1918. I wonder what celebrating he and his mates were up to?

Amongst my Uncle's papers was this small torn clipping of his father's death...

It is said that Ted had health issues from the mustard gas exposure during the war, though I have not seen this specifically mentioned in the records to date.

Ted died on 22 May 1932, leaving a wife - Florence Lynn Courtenay OTTON (nee GRIME) [1889-1969] and two young children Keith Edward [1923 - 2006] and Beatrice Lyn [1925 - 2007] on a farm at Stony Creek, Bega Valley.

Today, on the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing of the fateful Gallipoli Campaign,

We Remember... Lest We Forget.

Friday, April 24, 2015

One Family's Sacrifice

It has been some time since I have posted, focused as I have been on volunteering for various genealogy society activities.

Yesterday I had the privilege to chair the AGM of Te Puke Branch of the NZSG and gave a presentation called Digging for Treasure in Online Newspapers.

One of the images I use in this talk comes from the Taranaki Daily News and is of relevance this ANZAC Day 2015.

It struck me after giving the presentation that I should look further into this branch of my mother-in-law's family.

So who were "The HAMBLYN Soldiers"? The war service records show that they were the sons of Charles John & Mary Ann HAMBLYN (nee HOSKIN)

According to the book Hamblyn Family History, Plymouth to New Plymouth by M N Shaw pub 1976

"Four Sons: James Edward, Harry John, Thomas Day and William Charles Hamblyn all lost their lives during World War One and their names are on the Monument at Inglewood, in Taranaki."
How could one come close to understanding this family's thoughts and feelings, having six sons serving? Having lost four of them, I wonder at the relief they felt at the receipt of the news that Frederick Leonard was now at the base in France - and Private P though currently in hospital, was to be returned home.

So firstly to honour those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice:

When searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site for the surname HAMBLYN it is sad to see there are only four who served in the New Zealand Forces, these four Hamblyn Brothers.

William Charles HAMBLYN according to the digitized war records held in Archives NZ available via their Archway service, William Charles was born 13 August 1888. The 25 year old cheesemaker signed up on the 29 May 1916 - he was the average age of those who signed up and fought at Gallipoli. KIA on the battle field of France or Belgium 8 June 1917.

James Edward HAMBLYN - born 10 September 1889 James was a Midhurst Farmer working for a Mr Pitts when he signed up on 15 November 1915, after a Court Inquiry he was found to have died at Messines Ridge 27 July 1917.

Thomas Day HAMBLYN - born 14 October 1892 Thomas was working for his father on their Tariki farm when he signed up on the 27 May 1916. KIA as was his brother William Charles, 8 June 1917.

Henry John HAMBLYN - born 17 November 1896 The youngest of the brothers, Harry as he was known, was working as a farm hand for J Smith of Cardiff, when he signed up with his brother James on 15 November 1915. A Court Inquiry found he was killed in action 3 October 1916.

In a space of just over nine months, all four sons had been killed in battle. Who were FL and P mentioned in the newspaper?

It was easy enough to see Frederick Leonard HAMBLYN on page 128 of the Hamblyn Family History book however no there was no P Hamblyn as shown in the newspaper article.

Frederick Leonard's records were easy enough to find and show he was born 1 April 1896 and despite the news article in 1917 saying he was at base, his Archway records show he was a casualty on 11 October 1918 and there are mentions of cerebation which is slow to improve..

So to the mystery of P in mind I headed to the NZ BDM online indexes for a clue about "P" - which show 13 children to Charles John and Mary Ann:

Richard Ernest looks like the most likely candidate - not only by age, but and R and P can easily be mis-transcribed...

A search of Archway finds that Richard Ernest  born 8 September 1894 enlisted up on 6 March 1916 and a cable is noted in the records dated 25 October 1917 - Ldn in hospital H on Thames. To return to NZ later.

These young men were the first cousins of my husband's grandmother, Irene Ethel PEAT nee HAMBLYN. 

The effects of this war hit the family again when the father Charles John died of influenza - as did younger brother Osborne George.

A sad list of loss appears in the NZ BDM online death indexes

Mrs Hamblyn would have been without her husband when she would have received four Memorial Plaques and Scrolls in commemoration of sacrifice. "He died for Freedom and Honour". I wonder where those "Dead Man's Pennies" are now...

Lest We Forget.