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AIF and NZEF deaths on hospital ships


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Great! A fantastic piece of work. Thank you Frev.

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Thank you Bern

 

I've no doubt there'll be some errors - but hopefully it'll be of some use to others in their research...

 

Cheers, Frev

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Found this while going through some of my old copies of the 'Sydney Mail':

 

Text reads:

 

In forwarding the photograph of “Boat No. 705” to the “Mail,” a correspondent writes from Alexandria under date May 17 :- “Many of our dear lads went out to their last resting-place just at the outside edge of the harbour. It is a pathetic picture. I snapped it just as the boat was returning from its daily task of burying the dead, which it received from the hospital ship at anchor in the harbour. The bodies were covered with the Flag the gallant young fellows had given their lives for. A clergyman accompanied the vessel on each of its trips, and I could see the touching scene as the burial service was being read before the bodies were committed to their watery grave. War is indeed a rotten game, as I could not help thinking seeing those brave boys going ashore full of life, and being brought out on boat 705 to be buried, for sanitary reasons, at sea.”

 

 

boat_705.jpg.9fee0fd35b1d06db75c9474cab24039c.jpg

Edited by Bryn
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7 hours ago, Bryn said:

In forwarding the photograph of “Boat No. 705” to the “Mail,” a correspondent writes from Alexandria under date May 17 :- “Many of our dear lads went out to their last resting-place just at the outside edge of the harbour. It is a pathetic picture. I snapped it just as the boat was returning from its daily task of burying the dead, which it received from the hospital ship at anchor in the harbour. The bodies were covered with the Flag the gallant young fellows had given their lives for. A clergyman accompanied the vessel on each of its trips, and I could see the touching scene as the burial service was being read before the bodies were committed to their watery grave. War is indeed a rotten game, as I could not help thinking seeing those brave boys going ashore full of life, and being brought out on boat 705 to be buried, for sanitary reasons, at sea.”

 

 

 

Many thanks for this Bryn - it gives me a much clearer picture on how the burial system worked (in regard to this paragraph in my history of the Gascon):

 

Forty deaths had occurred on the ship between the 10th and 19th of May, and most of the funeral services while the Gascon was still at anchor off Gallipoli, had been conducted by the Chaplains from HMS London (Rev A.C.W. Rose) or HMS Prince of Wales (Rev H.D.L. Viener).  On these occasions it’s possible that a funeral service hadn’t been carried out on the Gascon before the bodies had been lowered on to a trawler to be carried further out to sea for burial.

 

I might incorporate it at some stage if that's okay...

Cheers, Frev

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Of course Frev. That’s why I put it there. I found a couple of references - in service dossiers - to burials at sea (off Alexandria) from a trawler. Will chase them up. 

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2 hours ago, Bryn said:

Of course Frev. That’s why I put it there. I found a couple of references - in service dossiers - to burials at sea (off Alexandria) from a trawler. Will chase them up. 

 

I kind of figured that - but didn't want to assume! :thumbsup:

Have also just found some more British deaths...

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An interesting first-hand account of the 'flooding' of a hospital ship with wounded in the first days at Gallipoli, written by a member of the AMC aboard the Seang Choon.

 

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT.


The following is a copy of a letter received by Mr. A. J. Stewart from his son, Malcolm, now with the A.M.C. at the Dardanelles : —


S.S. Seang Choon, Gabe Tebe, Gallipoli Peninsula


Sunday, May 9th, 1915. As you see above, we are at present at the scene of action. We left Egypt on the 13th April on the ‘S.S Hindoo’ (a tramp). There was another Hospital aboard and no accommodation for troops. We slept and ate on iron decks and it was cold. The ‘Hindoo,’ she did the best she could do; but she wasn’t exactly a racer, so we arrived at Lemnos to find that we were reported sunk as we were two days overdue (cheerful). The island has a magnificent harbour and here were gathered the whole of the ships, transports, and warboats for the projected attack on the Dardanelles. There were battleships of the Allies, repair ships, torpedo boats, destroyers, and even submarines and aeroplanes, to no end.
Never have I — never I suppose has anyone — seen such a mass of shipping, and still there was plenty of accommodation left in the harbour. After unloading 9,000,000 rounds of ammunition from our ship on to a store ship, we were, much to our surprise, split up into parties of about 15 and put on different transports to go and bring back wounded to Alexandria. Fifteen of us, with three English officers and two other Englishmen, were put on board this boat, on which were then about 1,800 troops, chiefly of the 14th Infantry Battalion. Most of these had been at Lemnos for months practising landing, etc. We went on board on the Saturday and next morning set sail for here, which we reached about noon. Long before we got here, however, we could here the booming of the guns on the warships and in the forts. When we arrived the first landing had been made (at dawn). The coast is pretty rough and hilly. The Turks were on the top entrenched with machine guns and batteries and our fellows had to land through a very hell of shrapnel and gun-fire. The battleships, about 25 in number, bombarded the ridge with shrapnel; but it was impossible to see the effect of their shells, although it was a most interesting sight.


The 11th was the first ashore and was, of course, terribly cut up. J. Morgan was hit in the shoulder; but at the end of the day Mat. was unhurt (that is all the information I have been able to get of our college chaps). The noise of the firing was terrific and we were enjoying immensely watching the warships’ shots and the vivid flashes of the shrapnel, when without any notice a launch with six lighters of wounded came along-side. We had not expected any for at least three days and as a consequence nothing was ready for them. The hospital only held 27 beds, 15 of which were already occupied. We simply had to do what we could. The gangway was lowered and we started to get aboard those who were able to scramble up with some assistance. Two of us got into the boat to hold them to the gangway. It was absolutely awful down there. It was dark and they were so thick that it was impossible to step between them, so those who were able crawled over the others.


Added to this was the fact that the sea was getting high and the boats kept smashing against the ship and one another and against the gangway and jolted the poor beggars about something awful. The groans were heartrending.


As soon as one stood up to move one would be thrown headlong on to some poor devil. The smell of burnt powder and blood was sickening. We were paddling in blood in the bottom of the boat and covered in it from handling the wounded. After getting the slight cases aboard, the boats were moved further along and the worst cases were slang aboard on stretchers by the winch. As fast as we emptied one lot of boats, others would come up. There seemed to be no end to them. Then near midnight it started to rain and we were wet through and the boats were almost half-full of water. We managed to get some hot tea then and handed it round. We got the last lot aboard about 3 a.m. and then our work started. We had to find places for them wherever we could. About 670 came aboard that night and there were already nearly 2,000 men with their equipment already aboard, so you will have some idea of the state of affairs. The hospital was full to overflowing, the decks were full, the tables and forms were full, and it was almost impossible to walk without treading on somebody. We got the worst cases dressed and bleeding stopped; but most of them we were unable to touch. We lost 13 that night. Next day we dressed nearly all of them, although 50 more came aboard.
By then the troops onboard had departed and we had more room. Other ships were already leaving and the hospital ships had long been full up. We left that day after some shells had dropped into the water pretty close to us and arrived in Alexandria on Thursday. There we put all the wounded on the hospital trains and sent them on to Cairo. We left Alexandria on the following Monday and arrived here last Thursday morning, and proceeded up the coast to the end of the Peninsula and the entrance to the Dardanelles. We lay there for a day watching the British and French troops in action and the warships bombarding. The ‘Queen Elizabeth’ was there, about a half mile from us, but she did little firing. When she did, well things boomed. Thence we returned here and are awaiting wounded. The lads are now well entrenched on the top of the rise in three rows of trenches. They work 48 hours and the spell in the rear trenches for 48 hours. The casualties at present are few and due chiefly to snipers of whom the Turks have made great use in picking off officers and N.C.O.’s. They have dispensed with all distinctions in dress now.


Things have been very quiet for the last few days, except for odd shrapnel. Several shells have dropped in the water round us, but I think they are merely chance shots, due to incorrect range. The other night, however, something of a sensation was afforded by two deafening reports in the water between us and the flagship about 300 yds away. Huge spurts of water were sent up and we couldn’t make out where the shells came from until we heard one of the ships fire into the air and then we perceived an air ship miles up. It had dropped the bombs intending to hit the flagship; but had missed. Since then we have not seen it again.
Last night there was a terrific struggle (so it sounded to us on the water) on shore. Rifles and guns were going unceasingly all night. It appears that the lads rushed a couple of Turkish trenches and took them. We had a few wounded aboard just now and they say that the boys advanced some distance and captured the trenches alright. Wounded are coming aboard all the different ships, so there must have been something doing.


Thursday, May 13th. — Have re-opened this letter to record the following. Chris Ewing and some of the 11th came aboard yesterday. The following sad news is absolutely true : (1) ‘Mat’ was killed last Sunday (May 9th) by a stray bullet in the abdomen, as he was walking along the trenches. (2) Wally Blair was killed on April 25th by a bullet in the abdomen while charging the hill. (3) ‘Rock’ (Rockliffe) was badly wounded in the chest and leg. (4) J. Morgan hit in landing. (5) Syd. Forbes hit in shoulder. (6) D. McDonald hit (Later still). W. Love hit in leg. J. Archibald and M O'Donohue missing. W. Crossing and Albrecht safe and sound, also L. Sargent.


With the exception of the last-named, Mr. Lionel Sargent, son of Mr. O. Sargent, of York, the men referred to above are students or ex-students of the Claremont Training College and connected with the Education Department. ‘Mat’ refers to Sergeant Matthews, late science master at the James Street school, and a former pupil of Mr. Lennox Storey, under whose guidance he entered upon his career as a monitor many years ago. (Eastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA) Friday 23 July 1915 p3).

 

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A great find - thanks for sharing Bryn

 

Here's a companion one to it from my file (not fully transcribed), as seen by one of the cooks:

 

The West Australian (Perth, WA), Fri 2 Jul 1915 (p.8):

LIFE ON A HOSPITAL SHIP ENGAGED AT THE DARDANELLES

EXPERIENCES OF A COOK

“To me the whole thing seemed magical.  A huge transformation scene, or a tremendous drama, staged on the land and sea, with terrible guns roaring out realistic effects, and real wounded men, who went out in khaki, and returned in scarlet tunics, red with living blood!  It was too realistic to be a dream, and yet too terrible to be true.”  Thus a cook off the transport Seang Choon, which had been engaged in performing emergency hospital work at the Dardanelles, described his reminiscences of a period of five weeks near Gallipoli.

There were two of the galley staff of the Seang Choon at Fremantle yesterday, on board the R.M.S. Malwa.  They are passing through on their way to Sydney, where they expect to be called upon to prepare meals for more troops on the way to the front.  In conversation with a representative of the “West Australian,” they told some of their experiences as non-combatants in the struggle in Turkey.

“We went away from peaceful Australia early in the year with the 13th Battalion from Queensland, and after a calm, peaceful voyage through the tropics by way of Torres Straits, Thursday Island, Colombo, and Aden, we found ourselves hurled into a whirlpool of struggling humanity; the opposing forces eager for each other’s blood, and determined at all costs to wipe the other out, or be annihilated in the attempt.

“And yet, amid all the pathos of strong men groaning in pain or falling dead in front of one, there was no lack of smiling faces, and those who seemed to be in most pain appeared to be filled with unlimited cheerfulness, and a desire for more fighting and more blood.  At times we laughed aloud, and at other moments our eyes welled up with tears.  Strong men cried to see the awfulness of man’s inhumanity to man, and laughed when the practical joker told some story of the battlefield that tasted of humour.  With shells falling in uncomfortable proximity to the ship, aeroplanes dropping bombs from above, and modern warships hurling tons of steel and lead into the lines and villages of the enemy, one was conscious of a paleness clouding one’s face, and of a desire removal to a place of greater safety.  We were anchored off the coast where the Australians landed, about two miles out.  In front, on either side, were H.M.S. Triumph and H.M.S. Majestic.  We had on board about 1,000 men of the 14th Battalion, and they were to be landed on the morning of April 26.  On the previous evening, however, we commenced to take on board dozens of very seriously wounded men, who had been shot down during the first day’s operations.  The wounded were brought alongside in lighters and lifted on board on stretchers, hoisted by cranes.  The next morning our reinforcements transhipped on to torpedo boats, and were taken close to the coast, where they were cast adrift in smaller boats, and left to get on dry land as best they could.  The whole scene was bristling with incident.  One fine young fellow, when saying goodbye to me, said that it would be no South African picnic, but a glorious homecoming.  He had been all through the South African campaign, and held the rank of quarter-master-sergeant.  That was at 4 a.m., and at 6.30 he was brought back by the torpedo boat, shot through the heart, without having landed.  On the night the wounded began to come aboard, all hands were kept busy preparing food and beef tea, which we handed down to the men in the lighters.  A strong north-easterly gale made the transference of the wounded a very difficult feat, and some time was required to successfully accomplish it.  Most of the men suffered from shrapnel wounds, and those who fell dead were the victims of snipers.

“When day broke on the 26th we could see the operations on land quite distinctly, and it was a treat to see our fellows get into the fray.  So heavy were the casualties and the loss of officers that our men simply took individual action, and each rushed ahead with a gleaming bayonet, regardless of his own safety or of united action.  They simply saw red.  Some of them got two miles inland before they looked round and found out that they were cut off from ammunition and reserves, and while a lot of them went down, many ultimately regained the lines.  The Turks had been so well entrenched that they took some shifting, but we have heard that the casualties were not so heavy as was anticipated in official circles.  On board our ship were a large number of army medical men, who did their best to relieve the pain and make the men comfortable until they arrived at Alexandria, which was 48 hours’ run from the scene of the fighting.  We made three trips with wounded, and carried about 2000 men all told to the various hospitals.  On each return trip we brought reinforcements, and there was a continual stream of ships doing similar business to ourselves.

……………………………………….

“We had many experiences on board.  On one occasion an enemy aeroplane hovered over us and dropped three bombs, all fortunately finding a resting place on the sea floor.  A gun from the Triumph, however, soon brought the aircraft down, and put it completely out of action.  On another occasion a huge shell, thought to have come from the Goeben, dropped into the sea about ten yards astern of our ship, and I can tell you we were glad when we upanchored and made off for Alexandria.  It was, as things turned out, a very fortunate thing that we left when we did, as some two hours after we sailed the Triumph was torpedoed, and a little later the Majestic suffered a similar fate.

“On one of our trips to Egypt we took 60 Turkish prisoners, including one officer, and a German and a Syrian Officer.  We did learn that there were to have been 260 Turks, but somehow or other only 60 survived to make the journey with us.  …………………  On the same journey we had several Gurkha wounded, and on the first evening at sea one of the Indians crept out of his bunk, and, seizing a knife, stole up behind the bunk of a Turk who was wounded.  The latter was only saved from a sudden death through the timely action of an attendant, who had missed his patient.  Needless to say, after that the Turks were all removed to quarters further away from the Indians.

“A remarkable feature of our work was the entire absence of complaints, for, although the wounded suffered considerable inconvenience through the makeshifts which were provided, all bore their misfortunes with remarkable fortitude.  It was pitiable in the extreme to see strong fellows who had left the ship to enter the firing line, full of hope and ambition, come back absolutely helpless.  One poor chap was assisted on board our ship by another wounded comrade.  The former had lost both eyes, and he was endeavouring to undo his belt, when he exclaimed with perfect resignation: ‘Good heavens, I’ve lost all my fingers, too.’  Another officer came aboard with a terrible gash on his face, and when someone sympathised with him he replied: ‘I wish that were all, lad, but there are three more inside.’

“It was interesting to hear the officers speak of their men.  The affection between them was remarkable, and the men came back from the firing line loving them.  The young officers acquitted themselves splendidly and with remarkable heroism and bravery.”

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26947373

 

 

Cheers, Frev

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Thanks for that Frev. All very interesting information!

 

This was particularly interesting to me:

 

"One fine young fellow, when saying goodbye to me, said that it would be no South African picnic, but a glorious homecoming.  He had been all through the South African campaign, and held the rank of quarter-master-sergeant.  That was at 4 a.m., and at 6.30 he was brought back by the torpedo boat, shot through the heart, without having landed."

 

The Quartermaster sergeant referred to as having been shot through the heart was, I believe,

 

754 Company Quartermaster Sergeant William John SAYERS, 7th Battalion AIF. Killed in action at the Landing, 25th April 1915, aged 28. No Known Grave.

There's no evidence that he served in South Africa, and he was too young anyway. He had been a colour-sergeant in the 67th (Bendigo) Infantry, Citizen Forces, and was married with one daughter. He'd apparently been serving in one capacity or another since the cadets when he was 16, then didn't even make it out of the boat at Anzac.

The following backs up the account you posted:

 

"I, being a Maltese cart man, was put on the S.S. Novian with my two horses. The 5th Battalion were on this boat, and the whole 2nd Brigade transport. The 5th Battalion left the boat at about 6 a.m. Many were killed in the small boats, both sailors and soldiers. Some who were wounded going over were brought back to us again on the return trip of the boat. One line of boats brought us five 7th Battalion dead back; one of them was our company Quarter-master at Mena." (No. 23, Pte Alferd Ernest Coates, HQ 7Bn; Ballarat Courier 13 Jul 1915 p5).

SAYERS_small.jpg.005c637374ef43ad388ba75bce54739e.jpg

 

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An interesting find Bryn – but it was the 14th Bn on the Seang Choon, not the 7th, and they didn’t land until the 26th.

 

I offer up instead, William Patrick Murphy – who it appears was not only the first member of the 14th Bn to die in battle, but also the first enlistee from Bangerang…

 

 

MURPHY, William Patrick

 

William Patrick Murphy, a 37 year old Baker from Bangerang (had been working for George Ford since landing in Australia)

Born in Colchester, England

Stated he wasn’t married and gave his mother, Mrs Mary Jane Clark (of Norwich) as his NOK

He had left his wife, Amelia, and 2 children, May Theresa and Ernest William in England

Served 3 years with the R.F.A. Great Yarmouth

 

Service Record:

https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=7984707

 

Enlisted at Warracknabeal 28/9/1914 as Pte 902 with the 14th Battalion

Promoted to Sergeant on the 1/2/1915

KIA/DOW 27/4/1915 [sic], and buried at sea off the Seang Choon

 

 

Newton Wanliss in his History of the Fourteenth Battalion, AIF, stated:

p.20: “The remainder of the battalion, together with Brigade Headquarters, on the morning of April 26 landed under shrapnel fire which fortunately, mostly fell too high or too wide, though Sgt W.P. Murphy of D Company, was shot through the heart.  He was a resident of the Warracknabeal district, an immigrant from Great Britain and an old Imperial soldier.  He achieved the melancholy distinction of being the first member of the 14th Battalion to be killed in action.”

 

 

The West Australian (Perth, WA), Fri 2 Jul 1915 (p.8):

LIFE ON A HOSPITAL SHIP ENGAGED AT THE DARDANELLES

EXPERIENCES OF A COOK

“To me the whole thing seemed magical.  A huge transformation scene, or a tremendous drama, staged on the land and sea, with terrible guns roaring out realistic effects, and real wounded men, who went out in khaki, and returned in scarlet tunics, red with living blood!  It was too realistic to be a dream, and yet too terrible to be true.”  Thus a cook off the transport Seang Choon, which had been engaged in performing emergency hospital work at the Dardanelles, described his reminiscences of a period of five weeks near Gallipoli.

There were two of the galley staff of the Seang Choon at Fremantle yesterday, on board the R.M.S. Malwa.  They are passing through on their way to Sydney, where they expect to be called upon to prepare meals for more troops on the way to the front.  In conversation with a representative of the “West Australian,” they told some of their experiences as non-combatants in the struggle in Turkey.

“We went away from peaceful Australia early in the year with the 13th Battalion from Queensland, and after a calm, peaceful voyage through the tropics by way of Torres Straits, Thursday Island, Colombo, and Aden, we found ourselves hurled into a whirlpool of struggling humanity; the opposing forces eager for each other’s blood, and determined at all costs to wipe the other out, or be annihilated in the attempt.

“And yet, amid all the pathos of strong men groaning in pain or falling dead in front of one, there was no lack of smiling faces, and those who seemed to be in most pain appeared to be filled with unlimited cheerfulness, and a desire for more fighting and more blood.  At times we laughed aloud, and at other moments our eyes welled up with tears.  Strong men cried to see the awfulness of man’s inhumanity to man, and laughed when the practical joker told some story of the battlefield that tasted of humour.  With shells falling in uncomfortable proximity to the ship, aeroplanes dropping bombs from above, and modern warships hurling tons of steel and lead into the lines and villages of the enemy, one was conscious of a paleness clouding one’s face, and of a desire removal to a place of greater safety.  We were anchored off the coast where the Australians landed, about two miles out.  In front, on either side, were H.M.S. Triumph and H.M.S. Majestic.  We had on board about 1,000 men of the 14th Battalion, and they were to be landed on the morning of April 26.  On the previous evening, however, we commenced to take on board dozens of very seriously wounded men, who had been shot down during the first day’s operations.  The wounded were brought alongside in lighters and lifted on board on stretchers, hoisted by cranes.  The next morning our reinforcements transhipped on to torpedo boats, and were taken close to the coast, where they were cast adrift in smaller boats, and left to get on dry land as best they could.  The whole scene was bristling with incident.  One fine young fellow, when saying goodbye to me, said that it would be no South African picnic, but a glorious homecoming.  He had been all through the South African campaign, and held the rank of quarter-master-sergeant.  That was at 4 a.m., and at 6.30 he was brought back by the torpedo boat, shot through the heart, without having landed.  ……………………..

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/26947373

 

 

Warracknabeal Herald (Vic), Tue 11 May 1915 (p.3):

BANGERANG

AMONG THE FALLEN

From what little is known it is quite probably that Sergeant W.P. Murphy, who was killed on active service at the Dardanelles, is identical with the young man employed by Mr G. Ford up till the time of enlistment.  It has been suggested that steps should be taken to have a suitable memorial erected to perpetuate the name of W. Murphy, who was the first from Bangerang to give his life for the cause of the Empire.  In the Presbyterian Church on Sunday the Rev W. Naismith referred to Mr Murphy’s death for the Empire.

 

The Horsham Times (Vic), Fri 23 Jul 1915 (p.6):

UNDER SHRAPNEL EIGHT HOURS

Private Alex McIntosh, son of Mrs Neil McIntosh, of Ellam, who was wounded in the Dardanelles, in letters home and to his friend, Mr W. Robson, Peppers Plains, writes: – ……………………………

When we landed on Gallipoli, and while we were landing, too, we lost a lot of men.  The Turks gave us a hot christening with lead; there was shrapnel bursting everywhere, and bullets were plentiful, too.  The first man to get killed in our company was Sergeant Murphy, from Bangerang, near Warracknabeal.  There were scores of boatloads of wounded being taken back to the ships, and dead men everywhere.  …………………………

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/72976129

 

 

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Thanks for that Frev. Not sure why I didn't see the obvious - that your cook is talking about the morning of the 26th, rather than the 25th, and that the man I quoted was on board the Novian! I'd had a note in my database 'forever' that Sergt Murphy's cause of death, in original CWGC records, was "killed in action at sea", which is a rare one. Guess your post clears the reason for that up, so thank you!

 

Also, in looking through Sergeant Murphy's dossier, I see something I've come across a few times - a man has apparently abandoned his wife and possibly, as in this case, his children, but his mother, who in this case lives in the same area as the wife and children, makes no mention of this whatsoever in correspondence; gives no hint that her son was actually married. In this case the mother was issued his memorial plaque and scroll as next-of-kin, yet 'top of the list' for those was - by law - the widow. No evidence as to where the medals or personal effects went. The mother also seems to have been trying to get hold of Sergt Murphy's deferred pay and any other money he may have had (£16 in a bank account apparently).

 

I wish I'd kept track of such instances; it'd be an interesting topic in itself.

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4 hours ago, Bryn said:

 

Also, in looking through Sergeant Murphy's dossier, I see something I've come across a few times - a man has apparently abandoned his wife and possibly, as in this case, his children, but his mother, who in this case lives in the same area as the wife and children, makes no mention of this whatsoever in correspondence; gives no hint that her son was actually married. In this case the mother was issued his memorial plaque and scroll as next-of-kin, yet 'top of the list' for those was - by law - the widow. No evidence as to where the medals or personal effects went. The mother also seems to have been trying to get hold of Sergt Murphy's deferred pay and any other money he may have had (£16 in a bank account apparently).

 

I wish I'd kept track of such instances; it'd be an interesting topic in itself.

 

Pretty sure I've also come across a few of these over the years.  I think I may have told myself not to keep a record of them, because that's how all my databases got started, and I already have too many different databases to keep up with, however, it's possible there may be something stored away in my myriad of files.
I might just go trawling...

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Souvenir of the Dunluce Castle

dunluce souvenir cover.jpg

dunluce souvenir inside.jpg

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And here's a letter from the 'jolly captain':
 

TRAVELS OF A BRITISH HOSPITAL SHIP

TRIBUTE TO AUSTRALIAN NURSES

Captain M.D. Butterwick, of the hospital ship Dunluce Castle, and formerly of the Braemar Castle, which was torpedoed writing to his cousin, Mrs R. Munro, of Forest-street, states: – “Since my return from Bombay in November, 1914, I have been in the eastern Mediterranean pretty well ever since.  I have seen the whole of the Gallipoli business and was there at the historic landing and was amongst the last to leave Anzac beach on the night of the retirement.  We stayed till daybreak in the event of any wounded being left behind.  I met Dr. H. Jackson, at Gallipoli.  The Dunluce Castle has 800 beds and a staff of 10 medical officers, one matron, 16 nurses, and 70 medical orderlies.  The ship is most completely fitted and can deal with any case that comes along.  Our matron is Mrs M. Hardie-White, who comes from Melbourne and has a nursing home there.  Twelve of our nursing sisters are also Australians.  These girls have been splendid for the work, which has been hard and continuous.  When off Anzac and Suvla these girls often worked 16 to 18 hours a day.  During the travels of the Dunluce Castle I was able to rescue 300 men from a French transport that had been torpedoed by an Austrian submarine.  Some of the poor fellows were in an awful state for they were shelled in the water and seven of them succumbed within three hours after being rescued from the water.  We afterwards were at Durazzo on the Albanian coast, taking in sick and wounded Serbians.  The former were mostly starvation cases.  We have had some adventure.  At Gallipoli I was in company with H.M.S. Triumph off Anzac, when she was torpedoed.  I got away safely but they fired two torpedoes at my ship that night and fortunately both missed.  A few days prior to that I was badly shelled at Cape Helles, but managed to get away safely.  I have a liking for the more peaceful side of life but as you know we have got to see it through.  One of our chaplains is named Blamires, who is a Bendigonian, and a very nice fellow.  His father was a Wesleyan minister resident in Bendigo many years ago.”

[Bendigonian (Vic), Thur 10 May 1917 (p.5)]

 

Captain Matthias Dewar Butterwick

Born Jul-Sept Qtr 1864 Poplar, London – married Margaret A.F. Delahunt 10/6/1897 Forest Gate, Essex – died Apr-Jun Qtr 1925 Brentford, age 60

[Joined the Merchant Navy in 1881 and qualified as Master in 1894]

 

 

And more on Chaplain Blamires...

 

BLAMIRES, Henry Lawrence

Born 17/4/1871 Vic – died 18/8/19165 Auckland, NZ

Methodist Minister – NZ Chaplains Department, NZEF

Departed Alexandria 20/5/1915 on the Commodore to Lemnos, then by torpedo boat to Anzac

Joined the Dunluce Castle at Anzac Cove 24/5/1915 (Empire Day) – returned to Egypt from Hospital Ship duty 8/7/1915 (later, also served at Anzac)

https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/1000836

https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/1012670

 

 

Extract from a Letter dated May 31 Alexandria:

[Joining the Dunluce Castle at Anzac Cove]

“Five minutes took me alongside my new ship, and in half an hour I was called upon to go on a trawler [No.507] further out, and perform the last offices for the dead.  Then at once there were dangerous cases requiring immediate attention, and many others to be assisted and cheered.  I had brought with me a good parcel of comforts dear to soldiers from Alexandria.  Daily afterwards till our departure on the 28th fresh cases arrived.  One lot were just landing, and shrapnel burst among them, killing five and wounding forty-five on one boat.  The bravery of the men is wonderful.  Complaint is almost unknown.  Groans are still rarer.  We have 450 aboard of various British and Colonial Regiments, also two Turks, Australians predominating.”

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19150809.2.11?end_date=31-12-1915&items_per_page=10&page=5&query=chaplain+blamires&snippet=true&start_date=01-04-1915

“A little extra detail in this one:

“The Turks report that they all detest the German officers, and many would like to surrender.  On Sunday, as we neared port and hospitals again, my day was begun with two funerals at sea (three the night before); then a short service for those able to be on deck – about a hundred.”

“We were in the midst of a naval engagement one morning, and saw a might battleship torpedoed and sunk within two miles of us.  Since then we have had the Red Cross painted on, and feel more secure.”

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/HNS19150805.2.25.13?end_date=31-12-1915&items_per_page=10&page=6&query=chaplain+blamires&snippet=true&start_date=01-04-1915

 

 

Extract from a Letter, dated May 27:

“For some days and during the run back the work is with the wounded, of whom our splendid ship has a full complement.  One sees the horrors of war out here; but the moans and groans that one reads about are usually absent.  The men bear pain with wonderful fortitude, and are always bright and uncomplaining, except about the delay in their getting back to the trenches.  I find plenty to do assisting doctors or orderlies, cheering the men, distributing cigarettes and books, and writing letters for the disabled, conversing and praying with the more dangerous cases, and, when necessary, burying at sea those beyond recovery, and writing to relatives.  On my first run I have reverently committed to the blue deep some sixteen beyond recovery, and hailing from Australia, New Zealand, and various parts of Great Britain.  During active service we work as chaplains among all branches of the service and all creeds or none.”

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WH19150723.2.46?end_date=31-12-1915&items_per_page=10&page=3&query=chaplain+blamires&snippet=true&start_date=01-04-1915

 

 

WORK AMONG THE WOUNDED

LETTER FROM CHAPLAIN-CAPTAIN BLAMIRES

(NZ Methodist Times)

MUSTAAFA CAMP, ALEXANDRIA, July 12, 1915

Dear Mr Editor – Since the middle of May I have been engaged in hospital ship work on the “Dunluce Castle,” a fine Castle liner, usually running between Cape Town and Southampton.  We carried over five hundred sick and wounded Britishers and colonials each trip from the Dardanelles to this port.  The first run was made without nurses on board, and doctors and orderlies worked night and day for the healing and comfort of the men.  But when the Australian and British Red Cross sisters were added to the staff it added greatly to the comfort of the brave men.  At times of stress all hands were required arranging beds, washing, feeding, and dressing patients.  I shall never forget Colonel Fenwick, of the Christchurch medical staff, carrying men on his back, when he himself was sent on board for a rest, and spending the whole day dressing the wounded and cheering them with many a sly joke.  My own part, of course, included much that is somewhat foreign to circuit work, such as assisting with operations, and dealing out bread and butter, magazines and cigarettes, letter writing, etc., in addition to more direct work for spiritual good.  There were solemn times, mostly in the early morning, when the dead were reverently committed to the deep.  ………………………….

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WH19150907.2.44?end_date=31-12-1915&items_per_page=10&page=8&query=chaplain+blamires&snippet=true&start_date=01-04-1915

 

 

[Working on the nurses at present]

Cheers, Frev

 

 

Edited by frev
Edited to fix format issues!
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Thanks for that Frev; some great information there!

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Posted (edited)

Frev, thought you'd find this interesting, if you haven't seen it before, from the State Library of NSW, 'Photographs of the Anzacs at Gallipoli, Sinai Desert, hospital ship, 1915 / compiled by Walter Todd (Private, later sergeant 1640  2nd Battalion):

https://collection.sl.nsw.gov.au/record/YEGmmOqn#lj35aPDL3vXeK

 

Regards,

Bryn

9. Hospital Barge 1915, Anzac_grey.jpg

Edited by Bryn
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Thanks Bryn - no I hadn't seen it before.

The State Library of Victoria have a photo of the same one (HB2) - looking even more worse for wear, and full of 'walking' wounded:

[A hand-coloured glass lantern slide]  https://viewer.slv.vic.gov.au/?entity=IE1244585&mode=browse

 

Be interesting to know just how many of this kind there were....

 

1260747700_hospitalbarge-gallipoli.png.287024ee39e302fa75b9ca1ac43cdfca.png

 

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Great photo, thanks  Frev; love those hand-coloured ones! I've started going through other photos in his collection, as well as SLV generally.

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Frev,

 

A letter from Chaplain Lee Warner; note it states that Lee Warner was chaplain of HMS Prince of Wales, and I've come across this statement a couple of times. I was under the impression that was (as you stated earlier), the Rev H D L Viener. [edit] - Just looking at Oliver Harris's dossier again, page 9/44 states that he was buried by 'Chaplain of HMS Prince of Wales' Any thoughts?

 

Personal
Mr John Harris of Pound Hill has received a very kind letter from the Rev A Lee Warner, chaplain of HMS Prince of Wales, written on board a hospital ship at sea on May 19th in which he conveys information regarding the death of his son Oliver, who was mortally wounded in the early fighting in Galipolli. He states that the young soldier was wounded in the abdomen in the previous week, and died at sea on May 17th and was buried on the same day. He was buried between Anafusta Bay and Samithrace [sic]. “He asked particularly that a letter be written to tell you,” writes the chaplain. “He was conscious for a long time, and I was able to converse with him. The sister tells me what a nice boy he was. He has left a few things which will be sent on to you." The late Oliver Harris was a specimen of young Australian manhood. He reached his 21st birthday on the voyage across in the transport and was 6ft 2 inches high, weighing about 15.5 stone. In his early years he spent nine years at Dixon’s School at Southport, where no doubt the healthy air and active schoolboy life helped his fine physical development. He was very popular with his mates, and on two occasions was instrumental in saving life. Once he rescued a boatload of people who were in a precarious position at Southport, and a couple of years ago in New England saved two lives from drowning.

(Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette (Qld. : 1868 - 1919), Tuesday 29 June 1915 p3). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188398723

 

624 Trooper Oliver HARRIS, 2nd Light Horse Regiment AIF. Died of wounds aboard HMHS Gascon, 2:45 am, 17 May 1915, aged 21. No Known Grave.

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Bryn

 

I also have a copy of that ‘article’ on file and it’s not a direct copy of the actual letter written by Lee Warner – only a small direct quote shown, and there’s no mention of Lee Warner having actually buried Oliver, but possibly a mention in the actual letter of him being buried by the Chaplain of the Prince of Wales.

 

As stated by his service record Oliver was buried by the Chaplain of the Prince of Wales and according to the UK Navy Lists 1915 for RN Chaplains: Rev Harry Dan Leigh Viener (RN Chaplain) was the Chaplain of the HMS Prince of Wales from the 14/5/1915 to 17/5/1915.

[Note: Lee Warner wasn’t a RN Chaplain]

 

My thoughts were – this was one of those cases were the dead were taken off the Gascon on one of the smaller boats to be taken further out to sea for burial, with the Chaplain of the Prince of Wales on board.

A couple of days later, Lee Warner writes a letter to the parents telling them of their son’s death and burial – the reporter assumes Lee Warner & the Chaplain of the Prince of Wales are one and the same!

 

Cheers, Frev

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  • 2 weeks later...

All

 

As we know the National Archives at Kew have their digitised collection available on line to download for free. Although HMHS Gascon is listed under the French, Belgian theatres, the first 30 pages or so of the ship's War Diary cover the Gallipoli campaign. The catalogue reference is WO 95/4145/1. Very few names, but the ships movements may be of interest. There are other hospital ship War Diaries such as Lanfranc in the same NA European collection but were also part of the Gallipoli campaign, this diary also has about 30 pages for 1915. It is a bit hit and miss but this may help someone's research.

 

Regards

Alan

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another name.

 

Sgt. Carl Wilhelm HUF. 7th Battalion. Wounded on Gallipoli (Head wound)

Died 13/5/1915 on board HMT Royal George.

Buried 15/5/1915 at the Chatby Military Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt.

 

Carl Huf was a farmer from Sunbury, Victoria.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Thanks for that rarpos.

 

I've been able to identify eight Aust/NZ soldiers so far as dying aboard Royal George following actions at Cape Helles (by date):

 

10/1464 Private Robert James DAY, Wellington Battalion NZEF. Died of wounds at sea 10 May 1915, aged 23. No Known Grave.

 

12/1693 Private Leonard KIBBLEWHITE, Auckland Battalion NZEF. Died of wounds at sea 11 May 1915, aged 19. No Known Grave.

 

2108 Private William Arthur O'BRIEN, 6th Battalion AIF. Died of wounds at sea 11 May 1915, aged 22. No Known Grave.

 

761 Lance Corporal William George SAUNDERS, 7th Battalion AIF. Died of wounds at sea 11 May 1915, aged 20. No Known Grave.

 

10/1357 Private Arthur Morris TURNER, Wellington Battalion NZEF. Died of wounds at sea 11 May 1915, aged 21. No Known Grave.

 

8/1652 Private Christopher Rae TEMPLEMAN, Otago Battalion NZEF. Died of wounds at sea 12 May 1915, aged 20. No Known Grave.

 

533 Sergeant Carl Wilhelm HUF, 7th Battalion AIF. Died of wounds at sea 13 May 1915, aged 20. Grave: Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria.

 

1574 Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald LEE, 5th Battalion AIF. Died of wounds at sea 16 May 1915, aged 21. No Known Grave.

 

Edited by Bryn
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Thanks for sharing the deaths on the Royal George rarpos and Bryn – I only had a couple…

 

 

I’ve been transcribing letters from Lieutenant Frank Longstaff Apperly – an Australian doctor in the R.A.M.C. who was serving on board the hospital ship Neuralia in 1915– and found these two sentences very interesting:

“They were buried at sea, and these functions are the most solemn I know.  I can sit and watch a man draw his last breath without a pang; but the burial service sticks in my heart.”

 

He went on to say:

“The ship’s engines stop, a ragged curate (who is a private in the Australian Medical Corp – a fine-looking man, in ragged uniform) reads the service, the body is covered with the Union Jack, the rows of troops, ragged and torn uniforms, coats with no sleeves, trousers with no legs, but only bandages, stand round, and near by some of the medical officers.  The service ends, the body shoots into the sea and disappears, a short address to the bare heads from the bare-legged and ragged private curate, then the captain blows a whistle, the engines start churning again, and we resume our journey.”

[written 28th Aug, en-route to Malta]

 

Cheers, Frev

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Poignant.

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