Hugo Johann/John Wegener was born on July 18th, 1897 in Palmer, South Australia to Johann Heinrich Christoph and Johanne Louise Wegener [Nee Linder], both of Prussian descent. He had 2 older [1893 and 96] and 2 younger [1901 and 05] sisters, so unfortunately he was the only boy.
Johann and Johanne Wegener
He enlisted at Keswick Barracks at the age of 17 years and 11 months on June 16th, 1915 with the service number 3031, listing his age as 18. His mother had a note allowing him to enlist, dated June 7th. He was assigned to 'X' Group, Base Infantry from June 1st to the 30th, the following day seeing him assigned to the 12th Battalion, 10th Reinforcements which was under the command of Lieutenant Renshaw Weyland Hugh King. His reinforcements left Adelaide on September 14th, 1915 towards Egypt.
12th Battalion, 10th [SA Based] Reinforcements. Lieutenant King is front row, fifth from right.
Hugo and his aunts and sisters just before embarkation
Hugo arrived at Sarpi Camp located on Lemnos island on December 4th where he was taken onto strength. The 12th Battalion was taking a rest after months on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where they lost their original commanding officer and about 225 odd members of the Battalion. He stayed there for just over a month and arrived at Alexandria on January 6th, 1916 via the H.M.T Lake Michigan. His first trip into hospital was on February 15th, admitted with a toenail problem, then on the 19th it changed to case of mumps. He was discharged from hospital and arrived back at the Battalion on the same day. On March 29th, he embarked from Alexandria towards France to join the British Expeditionary Force, and arrived in Marseilles on April 5th. His record advertently skips the rest of 1916 with the next mention in his record being on May 2nd, 1917 when he was on leave for 10 days. He most likely saw action with 'B' Company at Pozieres, Somme Valley, Ypres, Flanders as well as the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line where Captain Newland [O.C 'A' Coy] and Sergeant Whittle won a Victoria Cross.
Members of the 12th Battalion on their way to the Somme on July 12th, 1916.
Unknown battalion retiring after the Third Battle of Ypres
Hugo [Left] on Leave in 1918
Hugo went on leave again on July 2nd, 1918 in Paris, arriving back at the Battalion on the 15th. Near Lihons on August 11th, 1918 he distinguished himself in action. His recommendation for the Distinguished Conduct Medal reads..
'For conspicuous gallantry and resource near Lihons, 11 August, 1918. This man rushed an enemy machine gun post, and bayoneted the crew of two. Later, he successfully led a party of four against another machine gun post, which was holding up the advance.'
His D.C.M would be approved and appeared in the London Gazette on January 10th, 1920 on page 480 at position 4. For these actions, they appointed him to Lance Corporal (Temporary Corporal) on August 18th though was kept Lance Corporal on September 23rd. He went to the 4th Army Infantry School from October 5th to November 14th, promoted to Temporary Corporal. He was promoted to the rank of Full Corporal on Armistice Day, 1918. His D.C.M appears in his record on November 16th, 1918. Two days later on the 18th, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, his final rank.
'B' Company, 12th Battalion on January 7th, 1919. Hugo is Third row, eighth from left. Enlarged below.
He embarked to England on February 3rd, 1919 and then embarked to Australia arriving back at 4th M.D on May 31st, 1919. He was discharged from the A.I.F on July 25th, 1919 at 4th M.D after 4 years in the service. In 1916, his battalion lost a total of 446 men, then in 1917 they lost 477. 1918 saw the Battalion lose 339 men.
Newspaper, June 6th, 1919.
Hugo John Wegener lived to the age of 65, dying on October 2nd, 1962 in Adelaide, South Australia. By time of his death, he had outlived all but one of his siblings as well as his wife, Myrtle Eileen Maud Byrnes (1899-1950) who he had married in 1920 and gave him a daughter named Journavive Eileen Wegener (1921-2007).
Hugo prior to embarkation
Hugo shortly before he died
Forwards and reverse of a postcard that Hugo sent.
Hugo's grave in Centennial Park Cemetery, Adelaide.
Below are the medals that Hugo John Wegener would've earned for service in the First World War...
Distinguished Conduct Medal
1914-15 Star British War Medal Victory Medal
Small Note: Some records state his service record as 3030 and 3031, but his service record clearly states it was 3031