Monday, 22 August 2016

NFHM Blogging Challenge - Week 3 - August commemorations

Alex of Family Tree Frog has put the theme for Week 3 of the National Family History Month blogging challenge as - 
"Significant military battles are commemorated during the month of August such as Mouquet Farm in WWI and Milne Bay in WW2.  The Australian Comforts Fund was also founded in August 1916.  Did your ancestors have connections to these places or battles?  Is there another anniversary or significant event that your family commemorates/remembers in August?" 

Read more contributions here
In researching and recording the stories of soldiers in my family history I discovered that several had paid the ultimate sacrifice in the month of August during WW1.  
Click on their names to read their stories.

William John Pike MORGAN,  Private and bugler in the 14th Battalion A.I.F  was killed at the Battle of Lone Pine on the 8th of August 1915.   He was a first cousin of my maternal grandmother, Daisy FLEMING nee MORGAN.

Edmund James AH-KING - A Private in the 22nd Battalion A.I.F  was killed at Pozieres on the 5th of  August 1916.  Edmund was a first cousin of my maternal great grandmother, Margaret FLEMING nee HART.

William John BEATON - A Private in the 14th Battalion A.I.F was initially reported missing and many months later reported killed at Gallipoli on the 27th of August 1915.  William was a first cousin of my great great grandmother, Mary Ann MORGAN nee PIKE.

George FORSYTH - A Private in the 47th Battalion A.I.F was killed at Pozieres on the 9th of  August 1916.  George was a first cousin of my paternal great grandmother, Margaret Ann Hay MUSSON nee FORSYTH.

HERBERT JOHN MORGAN/WAKENSHAW - A Lance Corporal in the 22nd Battalion, 3rd reinforcements enlisted on the 19th of  July 1915.  He Died of wounds in France on the 5th of August 1916.  Herbert was a first cousin of my maternal grandmother, Daisy FLEMING nee MORGAN.

Joseph Stanley SAXON - A Private in the 22nd Battalion was killed in action on August 5th, 1916 at Pozieres.  Joseph was a first cousin of my maternal great-grandfather, William Thomas MORGAN.

Significant family anniversaries for August are:-

The birth of my paternal grandfather, James Richard MUSSON on the 23rd of August 1906 at Belfast, Canterbury, New Zealand and his death, as James Musson FORSYTH on the 16th of August 1976 at Mooroopna, Victoria, Australia.

The birthday of my maternal grandmother, Daisy FLEMING nee MORGAN  who was born on August 10, 1908, at Myrrhee, Victoria.

The death of my father in law, Allan Taylor on the 7th of August 1992 at Numurkah, Victoria, Australia.  He was 84 years of age.


Private George FORSYTH

George Forsyth enlisted in the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces on the 24th of January 1916.  His rank was Private, service number 1654.
On his attestation paper, George stated he was born in the Parish of Pitsligo near Fraserburgh, Scotland.
He was 25 years and 3 months of age, single and gave his occupation as labourer.
George’s parents were John Gill Forsyth and Jane nee Birnie of Hillfoot, Cortes, Lonmay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (pictured above)
John Gill Forsyth was the younger brother of my great great grandfather Robert Forsyth who settled in Kaiapoi, New Zealand.
Thanks to Sandra Playle on the Australian genealogy facebook page I learnt that George enlisted at Charter’s Towers in Queensland.
His mother states on the Honour Roll form that he was 18 years of age when he came to Australia.
George was living in Friezland, via Cloncurry.His younger brother, Robert, had also enlisted but he was with the Gordon Highlanders in Scotland.
One question George was asked on his enlistment in Australia was “had he ever been rejected as unfit for His Majesty’s Service and if so for what reason?”
His reply …. Yes, defective teeth.George was 5 foot 7 and a half inches tall.  He weighed 136 pounds, chest measurement 36 inches.  Complexion fair, eyes blue, hair colour dark brown and his religious denomination was Presbyterian.The attesting officer who signed his enlistment form was Fred Johnson.
20 – 4 – 1916    Embarked at Sydney per H.M.T “Hawkes Bay”
27 – 5 – 1916    From 12th training Btn, allotted to 47th Battalion at Tel-el-kebir
2 – 6 – 1916    From H. T “Caledonia” proceeded to join B.E.F at Alexandria
9 – 6 – 1916    Disembarked at Marseilles.
The 47th Battalion was raised in Egypt on the 24th of February 1916.  About half its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans and the rest were fresh reinforcements from Australia, the majority being recruits from Queensland and Tasmania.
Arriving in France on 9 June 1916, the 47th entered the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on 3 July. It participated in its first major battle at Pozières. Initially, the battalion provided working parties during the 2nd Division’s attack on 4 August, and then, with its own division, defended the ground that had been captured. The 47th endured two stints in the heavily-contested trenches of Pozières
Transcript of Battalion war diary:
5 – 8 – 1916    Battalion moved from Tara Hill and took up position near Pozières as reserves to front line.
7 – 8 – 1916     at 6.30 am received message to reinforce front line occupied by 48th Battn.  despatched C Coy at 6.40am. Three platoons returned at 7.15 am and the other remaining.
At 2.30 pm commenced relief of front line occupied by 48th Battn. Relief was completed by 4.30 pm.  A  and D companies occupying front line.  O, G, I and B Coy in close supports in Tramway Trench.
One platoon of C Coy which reinforced the 48th Battalion at 6.40 am was sent back to join up with remainder of C Coy at Sunken Road.  C Coy remained in support.
The relief of the 48th Battalion was carried out under a heavy bombardment by the enemy and considerable casualties were inflicted on the Battalion.
On the 9th of August 1916 Private George Forsyth was killed in action at Pozières, although his sister, Jean Butcher of Taupo, New Zealand had received notification of his death on dates in both August and November 1916.  She wrote to the war minister In Nov 1917.
She received a reply in December.
On his war service record, it states that he is buried “500 yards N.E. of Pozières”.
Underneath are location co-ordinates 57D SE X5A R35C Martinpuich.
I am told the coordinates may be taken so they can go back and retrieve the body for burial.
Sometimes the bodies cannot be found and that is when the soldier’s name and details are put on the memorials.  I’ve yet to work out if George’s body was found for burial.
Martinpuich village is about a mile north-west of High Wood,and like the wood was captured on September the 15th, 1916.
It is ironic that troops of the 15th (Scottish) Division took the village.
Military historian Matt Smith of  http://www.australianwargraves.org    says “Martinpuich is the village NE of Pozieres. The name refers to the trench map, not where he was buried. George would have been killed and buried on the old German Line OG1 and OG2, probably attacking the Windmill site. It is the site of the current 2nd Australian Division memorial.”
commemorative certificate
George’s name is included on the Villers-Bretonneux memorial at Somme, France.
Both George and his brother Robert are also commemorated on the War Memorial at Rathen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Rathen war memorial G and R Forsyth

Private William John BEATON

William John BEATON was a first cousin of my maternal great-great-grandmother, Mary Ann PIKE (1847-1933).

He was born in Euroa, Victoria in 1877, first son, the third of ten children of Peter and Catherine BEATON.

William enlisted as a Private, service number 1912, on the 15th of January 1915.   He was 35 years of age, 5 foot 7 and a half inches tall, weighed 144 pounds, with a fair complexion, brown hair and eyes.
His battalion embarked at Melbourne on the AT20 Hororata on the 17th of April 1915.

Troops boarding HMAT Hororata (A20) on gangway at far left.
Photo from Australian War Memorial
Item copyright: 
Copyright expired - public domain
Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain
William was reported missing in action at the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 27th of August 1915.
A court of enquiry was later held at Serapeum in April 1916.
As a result, he was recorded as killed in action on the 27th of August 1915 following a report from a fellow soldier, Corporal HYLAND of Benalla.
Corporal HYLAND stated "on August 27th at Chocolate Hill we charged and as soon as we got out of the trench I saw BEATON fall short.  He did not move and I believe he was killed".

Sadly, Peter and Catherine BEATON received a letter from the War Office stating "I regret very much that, notwithstanding the efforts of our Graves Services Unit, we have so far been unable to obtain any trace of the last resting place of your son the late No. 1912, Private W.J. BEATON, 14th Battalion....."

William John BEATON is commemorated at the Lone Pine memorial.  Lest We Forget.