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Remembered Today:

NZ Pioneer Batallion


Sue Pietersma

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Good day

My Great Grandfather, Andrew William Michelson, was an Australian, born in Timor, VIC on 15 June 1876. He came to South Africa, met my GGrandmother and married her in June 1899. Shortly afterwards the Boer War broke out and in Dec 1899 he enlisted as a Bearer in the Natal Volunteer Ambulance Corps until it was disbanded in March 1900. From his Boer War medal verification we know he later served in the ASC as a conductor in the Remounts (Vogelfontein Depot). I make the point here that he did not seem to be a soldier. At the end of 1905 his father died in Ballarat, VIC and he returned to Australia to sort out his inheritance, leaving his wife and 3 children in Kingwilliamstown. He never returned and never contacted his family again. In 1946 my Grandfather tried to find his father and was sent a photo of him by family in England. I have this photo. It was taken in Hull, UK on 8 May 1719, apparently while Andrew was on leave after convalescing in London after being wounded in France. It is a beautiful studio portrait depicting Andrew in the uniform of the NZ Pioneers! We know he survived WW1 and eventually returned to Australia and remarried in Terang, VIC in 1931 at age 55. We do not know where or when he died, though we have traced his elder brother's family in Australia. I and my cousins are desperately trying to trace Andrews movements. His Grandchildren, our parents, are still alive, in their 80's and we would like to give them closure on the life long mystery of their Grandfather.

We have one problem. There is no evidence that Andrew ever enlisted in either the Australian or the NZ forces. My grandfather wrote to all the military authorities in 1946 and the verdict was returned that he must have enlisted under another name. We can find nothing online today, other than his Boer War listing. We do have a Trove newspaper cutting mentioning an A W Michelson owing money in Melbourne, VIC at the end of 1914.

I visited the NZ Archives in Wellington to try and find him, or some name he might have used, in lists they have for the NZ Pioneers. Nothing.

My current assumption is that he enlisted in Melbourne in an Australian Unit and joined the NZ Pioneer Battalion in Egypt in March 1916 when it was formed after NZ Divisional Orders (James Cowan's book - The Maoris in the Great War).

Seems the Pakehas were drawn from the remnants of the Otago Mounted Rifles but I have difficulty believing my GGrandfather enlisted with them. Somehow he must also have been close by and since he was 40 years old and not a soldier as such, might explain why he was recruited into the NZ Pioneers. He must have been moved to another nearby (AUS or NZ) regiment when the NZ Pioneer Battalion became a full Maori unit in Sept 1917.

I would be most grateful for any input on this, particularly for information about any units which were serving near the NZ Pioneers. I am hoping to narrow down my search before I look in the Nominal Rolls for a name he might have used.....an almost impossible task.

Any suggestions would also be greatly appreciated.

Sue, Johannesburg

post-123336-0-38720200-1436884425_thumb.

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I'll move this to the Units and Formations sub forum

Alan

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Hi Sue - Welcome to the GWF.

By doing a quick search I see your family has been looking for information about Andrew for quite a few years now. You seem to have made some good in roads with your research so far.

How do you know that this is in fact a photo for Andrew William Michelson. Could it be another family member. What proof do you have that this is Andrew wearing the Pioneer Bn insignia.

I thought this might just be a spelling issue as there are many different ways to spell Michelson, or miss spell Michelsen.

Mikkelson

Michelson

Michaelson

Mickelson or add 'sen'

Have you looked on 'Papers Past' New Zealand news papers, if Andrew was sick or wounded while serving with the NZEF it would have been reported, also check all the different spellings of Andrews name with Archives New Zealand. Sorry I am not a better detective and don't have any other suggestions, I will do some searching on Ancestry etc (I see message board question about Andrew and brother James Henry and family tree).

Regards Wendy

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Thanks for your input Wendy.

I will certainly spend some time on "Papers Past".

We are pretty sure the photo is of Andrew - 3 cousins in England wrote to my Grandfather saying they saw him in 1917. The one who sent the photo wrote "You will see he is in the NZ Forces". She also added that Andrew had promised to return to his family in South Africa after the war.

We have searched with all spellings, possible family names he might have used etc to no avail.

I real question question is "How does an Australian come to be serving in the New Zealand Pioneer Batallion".

Apologies: the date the photo was taken was 1917 not 1719!

Rgds

Sue


I'll move this to the Units and Formations sub forum

Alan

Thank you Alan

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Sue, had a search of the NZ database at :http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/
If you search on Surname, restrict it surname only and use a wildcard search eg: Mi* , it will return all soldiers who's name begins with Mi

Looking at the photo & the age of your Andrew William, who would have been 40/41? Does this guy look that old?
I can't identify his medal ribbon either, but someone more knowledgeable might help with that.
If the medal can be identified it should help considerably in identifying this guy.

Might be an idea to post his photo in the appropriate forum on here & ask for help identifying it?

Regards
Jim

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It looks like a Queens South Africa ribbon to me also. Red, Blue, Yellow, Blue, Red. There is something about the way the colours appear in old sepia and B/W photos that reversed the colour wave. If I remember correctly there is a good thread on the GWF explaining the in's and out's of old photos and the colour effects, just cant find it.... drat.

I don't think the NZEF were to fussy who they enlisted, our army was made up by many foreign, or men for the greater commonwealth.

When Andrew gets back to Aussie he is living as his correct name. Andrew drops off the electoral roll after 1931, he may have died, I can't find a divorce for him.

Looking at the Australian electoral rolls his wife Annie Jane is still alive in 1968 and then dies in 1973 buried in the Terang Cemetery.

Looking at the passengers lists A. W. Michelson is in and out of Aussie with regularity.

Have you been in touch with the Australian Institute of Genealogy, It mentions on Ancestry there is additional information available at the AIG re: Annie Jane

Looks like I'm finding everything you have found already. There is quite a bid on Ancestry, family tree, documents etc in a private tree, I gather this is related to you.

Sorry my post is jumbled, throwing it together as I find/see things.

Jim that's a good link, easy to search.

You're right about the age and the chap in the photo, he looks to young to me that's why I question the authenticity of the photo.

Will follow the thread and hope all will be found out.

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To wear a QSA medal your going to have to be in your mid thirties to forty's serving WW1 :doh::glare: Ho hum.

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To wear a QSA medal your going to have to be in your mid thirties to forty's serving WW1 :doh::glare: Ho hum.

I think he is much older than he looks, which is unusual I know, but he has a quite dark looking ethnicity (especially around the eyes), almost like an Anglo-Indian (mixed blood) and yet if you look at his temples, just visible under his hat, he appears to have almost white hair. I think he could well be in his forties.

N.B. This is a rather tragic story and I wish Sue well in her difficult search.

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Thank you everyone.

Yes, he is wearing his QSA medal. We took ages to ID that, we should have realised as that we knew he had it.

He does look young, 38 isn't that old I suppose and the photo could have been touched up in the studio. A studio photo of his father in his 60s shows the same smooth skin.

We were also wondering about his injury and where this might have happened (the Somme or just during routine pioneer work in the trenches) - nothing to show on the photo but serious enough to been sent to England.......

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I think he is much older than he looks, which is unusual I know, but he has a quite dark looking ethnicity (especially around the eyes), almost like an Anglo-Indian (mixed blood) and yet if you look at his temples, just visible under his hat, he appears to have almost white hair. I think he could well be in his forties.

N.B. This is a rather tragic story and I wish Sue well in her difficult search.

You are right, there is a darkness around his eyes, I have not noticed this before though the photo hangs above my desk! It is not explained by his Danish/English parents. Perhaps due to experiences in the trenches?

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You are right, there is a darkness around his eyes, I have not noticed this before though the photo hangs above my desk! It is not explained by his Danish/English parents. Perhaps due to experiences in the trenches?

I don't think so, it looks more like an effect of ethnicity to me. He might have some Romani / gipsy / traveller heritage. There was quite a large Romani (aka Roma) community in Denmark during the 18th and 19th centuries.

As regards his wound(s), quite a number of pioneers became casualties of artillery fire, as they were often engaged in digging whilst bombardments were underway.

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A (very) long shot but the Australian records have this man from Timor and about the right age. It's in the applications to enlist record set.

Sinclair, James; age 40; born - Timor Vic; address - Albert Park Melbourne Vic [occupation - clerk]
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NameSearch/Interface/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=60245095

Craig

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The father is Danish by the information on Ancestry.

Andrew Kofoed MICHELSON born Denmark.

Miner and Hotelier in Australia, died Ballarat, Australia.

I did notice the hair and thought it may have been blonde, he looks Swedish, Norwegian, Danish to me.

Why would he enlist under another name only to return to Australia and take up his own name again.

I cant find anything on the nominal rolls. How frustrating.

post-49999-0-46907600-1436995150_thumb.j post-49999-0-84601100-1436995165_thumb.j

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A (very) long shot but the Australian records have this man from Timor and about the right age. It's in the applications to enlist record set.

Sinclair, James; age 40; born - Timor Vic; address - Albert Park Melbourne Vic [occupation - clerk]

http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NameSearch/Interface/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=60245095

Craig

Session expired - One of those links that gives up the ghost.

Will be worth looking up James Sinclair on the electoral rolls

Item details for: MT1486/1, SINCLAIR/JAMES
Title
Sinclair, James; age 40; born - Timor Vic; address - Albert Park Melbourne Vic [occupation - clerk]
Contents date range
1916 - 1916
Series number
MT1486/1

Click to see which government agency or person created this item.

Control symbol
SINCLAIR/JAMES
Citation
NAA: MT1486/1, SINCLAIR/JAMES
Item barcode
60245095
Location
Melbourne
Access status
Open
Date of decision
04 Mar 2015
Physical format
PAPER FILES AND DOCUMENTS (allocated at series level)
Extent
6 folios
Records authority class number
3885
Date registered
02 Mar 2015
Series details for: MT1486/1
Series number
MT1486/1
Title
Applications to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force
Accumulation dates
01 Jan 1915 - 31 Dec 1918
Contents dates
1914 - 1958
Items in this series on RecordSearch
81978

All items from this series are entered on RecordSearch. Agency/person recording

  • 01 Jan 1915 - 31 Dec 1918
    CA 2001, Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office
Agency/person controlling
  • 01 Jan 1915 -
    CA 1999, Soldier Career Management Agency
Quantity and location
  • 207.18 metres held in VIC
System of arrangement/ control
Alphabetical by surname.
Range of control symbols
A - Z
Predominant physical format
PAPER FILES AND DOCUMENTS
Series note

This series consists of records for those individuals who applied to

enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, and were either rejected,

discharged while still in training, or went on to serve within

Australia only [usually as depot troops or camp guards]. The most

common reason for rejection is on medical grounds. Discharges are

recorded as occurring for the same reason, as well as unsuitability,

and through general demobilisation at the conclusion of hostilities.

Some records relating to members of the Australian Army Nursing

Service are also to be found.

The forms most consistently present are 'Australian Military Forces:

Australian Imperial Force: Attestation paper of persons enlisted for

service abroad', [single A3 folio folded to form four pages] and

'Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force' [a single

folio printed on front and reverse]. Both of the above forms provide

for the entry of such details as the subject's full name, occupation,

age, current address, date of enlistment, height and chest

measurements, and the results of medical examination. The larger form

allows for additional details such as statements of service history,

casualties promotions, etc. Where the individual has attempted to

enlist more than once multiple application forms will often be

present. Many of the records also have other papers appended,

including Medical History forms, Conduct Sheets, Issue Cards, and

correspondence from the subjects or their next of kin.

Administrative information

The following data was keyed from the paper documentation:

Form number: CA 11

Transferring department: Army, Central Army Records Office, Ex-

Service Enquiries and Medals Entitlement

Division

Date of transfer: 25/09/1975

Archives file number: RWM30/8/22

This series has been intellectually converted to CRS B311, however

records should continue to be called for under MT1486/1.

This series consists of records for those individuals who applied to

enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, and were either rejected,

discharged while still in training, or went on to serve within

Australia only [usually as depot troops or camp guards]. The most

common reason for rejection is on medical grounds. Discharges are

recorded as occurring for the same reason, as well as unsuitability,

and through general demobilisation at the conclusion of h ......

(More) Related series
  • A14290, Digital copies of photographs of Australian WW I Servicemen held by the Imperial War Museum, London.
  • 1914 - 1918
    B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920
Visibility & availability indicator
  • 62 . Average file size: standard
  • 68 . Digital image charge: Standard
  • 73 . All items from the series are on RecordSearch
Date registered
25 Sep 1975
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I did wonder if in fact the photo attributed to him was right, but seeing his father's photo there's no doubt it's him, but who the hell did he enlist as?

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Good day to you all

Thanks again for the input. Wendy, thanks also for posting the photo of Andrew's father, Andrew Kofoed Michelson.

I don't think the James Sinclair is our man, he seems to have been refused enlistment.

I realise a lot of my info in this thread isn't really relevant to WW1 as such, and I apologise for this, but perhaps it helps set the scene.

We know that soon after his fathers death in Ballarat in 1905 he lost most of his inheritance fighting his 2 brothers over his fathers estate.

For the record Andrew William was a printer/compositor. He was working as a printer in Terang when he married the second time. He did not divorce his first wife.

Any info we have prior or after WW1 has him using his own name, which is why it is so very strange that there is no record of his enlisting in either the AUS or NZ forces.

There is no record of anyone of this name dying in AUS or NZ - or South Africa or anywhere on Ancestry.com - any info on Anc.com is ours. It is also strange that he only voted once, with his second wife, in Terang - I understood voting was compulsory if you were in the country. he appears in Perth, WA during the first half of 1907 - owing money to his landlady there - I had thought he might have been trying to make his way back to SA but didn't have enough money for the full fare. Wishful thinking perhaps.

Wendy, as you pointed out he appears on ships, mostly between Sydney and Melbourne, from about 1907 to 1912 - he is recorded as working as SW/SS/Salon Waiter.

The only hint as to why he might have changed his name comes from a Trove article (Independent (Footscray) on 5 Dec 1914, where a court order states one A W Michelson owes one F Rowe £1 16s 2d! A man could earn money enlisting.

When my grandfather tried to find him in 1946 he was a sent information from a solicitor who was helping him trace possible Michelsons that one Andrew Michelson called on the Bendigo Michelsons (not ours) some years earlier claiming relationship. He apparently borrowed money which he never returned.....so a shortage of money regularly seems to have been a problem.

Back to WW1...

Given AW's experience in the Boer War (Stretcher Bearer and Remounts conductor) I checked to see which possibly relevant AUS units were enlisting in Melbourne before 1916.
I thought the Australian Light Horse and the Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance might be options. I haven't checked Infantry units yet.

Any thoughts on this?

Sue

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Good day to you all

Thanks again for the input. Wendy, thanks also for posting the photo of Andrew's father, Andrew Kofoed Michelson.

I don't think the James Sinclair is our man, he seems to have been refused enlistment.

I realise a lot of my info in this thread isn't really relevant to WW1 as such, and I apologise for this, but perhaps it helps set the scene.

We know that soon after his fathers death in Ballarat in 1905 he lost most of his inheritance fighting his 2 brothers over his fathers estate.

For the record Andrew William was a printer/compositor. He was working as a printer in Terang when he married the second time. He did not divorce his first wife.

Any info we have prior or after WW1 has him using his own name, which is why it is so very strange that there is no record of his enlisting in either the AUS or NZ forces.

There is no record of anyone of this name dying in AUS or NZ - or South Africa or anywhere on Ancestry.com - any info on Anc.com is ours. It is also strange that he only voted once, with his second wife, in Terang - I understood voting was compulsory if you were in the country. he appears in Perth, WA during the first half of 1907 - owing money to his landlady there - I had thought he might have been trying to make his way back to SA but didn't have enough money for the full fare. Wishful thinking perhaps.

Wendy, as you pointed out he appears on ships, mostly between Sydney and Melbourne, from about 1907 to 1912 - he is recorded as working as SW/SS/Salon Waiter.

The only hint as to why he might have changed his name comes from a Trove article (Independent (Footscray) on 5 Dec 1914, where a court order states one A W Michelson owes one F Rowe £1 16s 2d! A man could earn money enlisting.

When my grandfather tried to find him in 1946 he was a sent information from a solicitor who was helping him trace possible Michelsons that one Andrew Michelson called on the Bendigo Michelsons (not ours) some years earlier claiming relationship. He apparently borrowed money which he never returned.....so a shortage of money regularly seems to have been a problem.

Back to WW1...

Given AW's experience in the Boer War (Stretcher Bearer and Remounts conductor) I checked to see which possibly relevant AUS units were enlisting in Melbourne before 1916.

I thought the Australian Light Horse and the Australian Light Horse Field Ambulance might be options. I haven't checked Infantry units yet.

Any thoughts on this?

Sue

A field ambulance seems likely as his prior service, if he admitted to it, would have stood him in good stead for early promotion and thus extra pay. In general a mounted unit would probably be favoured by an older man, especially if he had previous equine experience. By normal standards he was a bit long in the tooth for infantry, although older men did find a home there if they were firm of limb and fit.

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WILLIAMS

Andrew William Death notice 19JAN1943 Death 63 at RPA Hospital Sydney Morning Herald 20JAN1943

Ryerson Deatrh Index

Interesting!! Sydney?? Will investigate.............. Thanks for the suggestion Wendy.

A field ambulance seems likely as his prior service, if he admitted to it, would have stood him in good stead for early promotion and thus extra pay. In general a mounted unit would probably be favoured by an older man, especially if he had previous equine experience. By normal standards he was a bit long in the tooth for infantry, although older men did find a home there if they were firm of limb and fit.

A good start - thanks

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Australian Cemetery Index

I would really like to see a photo of Annie Jane (n. Hetherington) Michelson head stone at the Terang Cemetery, it may hold a clue.

Have put a request up on Find a Grave.

Wendy I have a photo, I went there when I visited AUS & NZ .....she is buried with her father.

post-123336-0-82693900-1437126758_thumb.

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Will only be able to check in again.......

Posted on a Gene forum in New Zealand. Some results coming in.

Check out this chap Andrew William NICHOLSON, with the Pioneers from Aussie.

May be another marriage involved.

Did you check on the Ryerson Death Index Aussie newspaper death index.

Have to run will check in later.

Wendy

Oh my goodness Wendy!!!!!!!!!!! I have just checked out Andrew William Nicholson................something there says NZ Pioneer Battalion!!!!!!!!!!!!................and I have to leave in 5 mins for a weekend away - with no internet!!!!!.................

I am madly saving the docs and will take my laptop with me....

Can't wait to be home on Monday!!!

.

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Wendy.......I am sure its him!!!

I have downloaded all the docs and will look properly when I am away.

Watch this space.

Have a wonderful weekend

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Wendy.......I am sure its him!!!

I have downloaded all the docs and will look properly when I am away.

Watch this space.

Have a wonderful weekend

Previous Boer War service, grey hair, occupation: compositor. Looks like you've hit the jackpot.

Good work Wendy et al.

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