Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Unidentified AIF soldier


tankengine888
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello!

I had a Great Great grandfather who is a mystery to me. He served in World war one, and I knew nothing else until recently. I do not know who is in the photo, but I think it's worth a shot here. My great grandfather name varies, but is generally Einar J. Olson (1892-1968).

Any help appreciated!

07cd2173d8172383a5384b4aa4083772.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi and welcome to the forum.  What a wonderful photo!

A very colourful character, as you can see from his full service record.  Gallipoli, Light Horse, Camel Regiment, Machine Gun Squadron, plus some disciplinary issues.

James OLSON

 

Regimental number 562
Date of birth 24 March 1892
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Other Names OLSON, Einar James
Religion Church of England
Occupation Labourer
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 22.8
Height 5' 7"
Weight 160 lbs
Next of kin Mother, Mrs A Olsen, 25 Nelson Street, Glasgow, Scotland
Previous military service Nil
Enlistment date 9 December 1914
Place of enlistment Oaklands, South Australia
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 11th Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron
AWM Embarkation Roll number 10/16/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A7 Medic on 2 June 1915
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A30 Borda on 16 June 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Driver
Unit from Nominal Roll 4th Machine Gun Squadron
Fate Returned to Australia 24 July 1919
Discharge date 22 October 1919
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Palestine

Commenced return to Australia on board HT 'Dongala', 24 July 1919, ; discharged (termination of period of enlistment), Adelaide, 22 October 1919.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Date of death 22 February 1968
Age at death 75
Sources NAA: B2455, OLSON James
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi WhiteStarLine and jonbem

I have seen James Olson's record, of course myself assuming that's where he's from. We didn't know his proper birthday or that so yeah. I don't recall seeing something about the Camel Corps in there. I did see an incident on the 14th of January 1918, but aye. I just wonder what he did though. He seemed to be apart of the machine gun section for either the 11th or 9th light horse, then into the 4th LHMGS (Light horse MG squadron), but I know absolutely nothing about what that does or means. Does this mean he was at Beersheba? Thanks for all this!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He has the 2-piece brass metal version of the Hotchkiss gunners badge above his Lance Corporal’s stripe so that fits with the biographical service details that you have garnered so far.

 

01E47A27-E658-42FA-B740-A46E4DE5E8F9.jpeg

4FD4872E-51A7-447D-9B2B-81FA404E7BC8.png

6F9EAC83-0F3B-4756-BE82-2F27019045D1.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

He has the 2-piece brass metal version of the machine gunners badge above his Lance Corporal’s stripe so that fits with the biographical service details that you have garnered so far.

2C9E9EA0-A5BD-4A1F-9CEB-C58BFA6CBA86.jpeg

Hello FROGSMILE,

are you sure it is brass? Looks more like an embroidery or fabric, might just be me. Cheers anyways!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adding in, it's MG I believe, not Hotchkiss.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

Hello FROGSMILE,

are you sure it is brass? Looks more like an embroidery or fabric, might just be me. Cheers anyways!

I must confess that I’m looking only on a phone screen, but I think it’s brass because the letters appear to be separate from the wreath, which was a feature of the metal badges only.  Others might have a better view on a larger screen. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

I must confess that I’m looking only on a phone screen, but I think it’s brass because the letters appear to be separate from the wreath, which was a feature of the metal badges only.  Others might have a better view on a larger screen. 

I see what you mean, this was also the only photo I was able to find, lower quality than the original I have I believe. But I do follow your drift, and I am a 'newbie' when it comes to military stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

Adding in, it's MG I believe, not Hotchkiss.

I did think it was MG at first, but then edited my text.  It occurred to me that the mounted troops (light horse) probably did not have the Vickers gun(?) as although they could and did fight dismounted they were primarily deployed as mounted troops so it would have been difficult transporting the Vickers other than perhaps by mule.  Because the metal badges, MG and HG were configured very similarly it occurred to me that it might be HG and that they had Hotchkiss guns.  That said my knowledge of the Light Horse is limited and I’m unsure what they were equipped with in the MEF theatre, it needs an expert like Steve Becker, who will know the answer for sure. 

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

I did think it was MG at first but then edited my text.  It occurred to me that the mounted troops (light horse) probably did not have the Vickers gun(?) as although they could and did fight dismounted they were primarily deployed as mounted troops so it would have been difficult transporting the Vickers other than perhaps by mule.  Because the metal badges, MG and HG were configured very similarly it occurred to me that it might be HG and that they had Hotchkiss guns.  That said my knowledge of the Light Horse is limited and I’m unsure what they were equipped with in the MEF theatre, it needs an expert like Steve Becker, who will know the answer for sure. 

Cheers for that response, I remember seeing a light horse photo, with 3 LH men and a Vickers gun, at least I think it was.. I'll try and find it.

Just now, tankengine888 said:

Cheers for that response, I remember seeing a light horse photo, with 3 LH men and a Vickers gun, at least I think it was.. I'll try and find it.

Quick search

images.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

Cheers for that response, I remember seeing a light horse photo, with 3 LH men and a Vickers gun, at least I think it was.. I'll try and find it.

They certainly had the Vickers Gun in France and Flanders, I’m just not sure how they deployed machine guns when mounted in the MEF.  Certainly some Australian troops did operate the Hotchkiss, but I’m unsure who and when.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, FROGSMILE said:

They certainly had the Vickers Gun in France and Flanders, I’m just not sure how they deployed machine guns when mounted.  Certainly some Australian troops did operate the Hotchkiss but I’m unsure who and when.

I remember hearing a story, they would get a car, strap a Vickers on-top, then behind the lines ... But I doubt that heavily, especially in the desert. I believe the (Vickers) gun would've been attached to the saddle or something, but I wouldn't know. Anything is possible I suppose.

Just now, tankengine888 said:

I remember hearing a story, they would get a car, strap a Vickers on-top, then behind the lines ... But I doubt that heavily, especially in the desert. I believe the (Vickers) gun would've been attached to the saddle or something, but I wouldn't know. Anything is possible I suppose.

Adding on,

images.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

I remember hearing a story, they would get a car, strap a Vickers on-top, then behind the lines ... But I doubt that heavily, especially in the desert. I believe the (Vickers) gun would've been attached to the saddle or something, but I wouldn't know. Anything is possible I suppose.

Adding on,

That’s a conclusive image I think, assuming that it was taken somewhere in the MEF (the terrain looks like it).  Thinking about it further I believe that the key to this would be the Light Horse units function as mounted infantry rather than cavalry.  If they could move their guns and ammunition in the way shown then it would be natural for them to use Vickers rather than the Hotchkiss, which was primarily intended as a cavalry weapon.  There’re some good images of the various badges used here: http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-badges/metal.htm

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, FROGSMILE said:

That’s a conclusive image I think, assuming it was taken somewhere in the MEF (the terrain looks like it).  Thinking about it further I think that the key to this would be the Light Horse units function as mounted infantry rather than cavalry.  If they could move their guns and ammunition in the way shown then it would be natural for them to use Vickers rather than the Hotchkiss, which was primarily intended as a cavalry weapon.  There’re some good images of the various badges used here: http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-badges/metal.htm

Cheers mate, I remember in the Boer War, the NSW Lancers acted like Mounted Infantry, riding up to the action then dismount, then bang! Cheers for the site with the badges.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, tankengine888 said:

Cheers mate, I remember in the Boer War, the NSW Lancers acted like Mounted Infantry, riding up to the action then dismount, then bang! Cheers for the site with the badges.

Yes it’s true that the mounted infantry played a vital role in the 2nd Boer War and the Canadian and Australian contingents proved to be especially adept in that capacity.  It very much became associated with burgeoning National identity and by WW1 they (the Light Horse) had become the beau ideal of the Australian Imperial Force.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Yes it’s true that the mounted infantry played a vital role in the 2nd Boer War and the Canadian and Australian contingents proved to be especially adept in that capacity.  It very much became associated with National identity and by WW1 they (the Light Horse) had become the beau ideal of the Australian Imperial Force.

That sounds about right, cheers for all this!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

That sounds about right, cheers for all this!

That’s not to say that the hard fighting Australian infantry were somehow second class.  They weren’t, and they did the hard yards, slogging their way through (often literally) to the bitter end.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, FROGSMILE said:

That’s not to say that the hard fighting Australian infantry were somehow second class.  They weren’t, and they did the hard yards, slogging their way through (often literally) to the bitter end.

Sorry for late response… slept through it.

You’ve got a point there, I think it was the Australians that led to the success of 1918, and a (Brigadier) ‘Pompey’ Elliot that planned the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux if I’m not mistaken. Even then, the Australians were lambs at the slaughter at Gallipoli.. at least at the Nek, anyhow that campaign has been immortalized into the ANZAC Spirit.

 

 

Sidenote,

is it me or is my Great Great Grandfather wearing 4 medals? Taking a look for a higher quality photo as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

Sorry for late response… slept through it.

You’ve got a point there, I think it was the Australians that led to the success of 1918, and a (Brigadier) ‘Pompey’ Elliot that planned the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux if I’m not mistaken. Even then, the Australians were lambs at the slaughter at Gallipoli.. at least at the Nek, anyhow that campaign has been immortalized into the ANZAC Spirit.

 

 

Sidenote,

is it me or is my Great Great Grandfather wearing 4 medals? Taking a look for a higher quality photo as well.

It might be going a tad far to say that the AIF led to the success of 1918, but I think it’s fair and just to say that along with the two Canadian corps they played a pivotal and vital part without which success on the scale achieved would have been impossible.

It’s sometimes difficult to measure visually the length of medal ribbons, but it does look to my eyes as if your GGF might have four.  The fourth ribbon isn’t a MM, but perhaps he had some other medal.  

 

 

 

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

It might be going a tad far to say that the AIF led to the success of 1918, but I think it’s fair and just to say that along with the two Canadian corps they played a pivotal and vital part without which success on the scale achieved would have been impossible.

It’s sometimes difficult to measure visually the length of medal ribbons, but it does look to my eyes as if your GGF might have four.  The fourth ribbon isn’t a MM, but perhaps he had some other medal.  

 

 

 

Militia medal maybe? I wouldn’t know any other medals. His record says he got the pips squeak and Wilfred (14-15 star, victory and war medal)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, tankengine888 said:

Militia medal maybe? I wouldn’t know any other medals. His record says he got the pips squeak and Wilfred (14-15 star, victory and war medal)

Militia is a possibility I imagine.  I’m not well up on medals, but if you research the award criterion for that decoration you can probably work out whether your GGF would have qualified based on his known service.

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

Militia is a possibility I imagine.  I’m not well up on medals, but if you research the award criterion for that decoration you can probably work out whether your GGF would have qualified based on his known service.

On his record, nothing is stated about militia service, but he might’ve served in the British Army in the 1910-1913 period with a false name, as of course, his birthday was what he said, no records or census can substantiate this, etc. might be a British service medal. his assumed parent is Olof Edward Olson (on marriage record) , a Swedish/Norwegian sounding name aye! Might be service with that, since a family story is, he was taken to a place to be born, but of course, could be false. I have a photo of him in prewar, in a suit, looks like he was well off, wonder why he came to Australia.. anyhow I’ve gone on a rant of sorts. I have information about a document I have, briefly it says

Berri, SA RSL

J Olson, Corporal, 4th Machine Gun, 23rd August 1919- December 1944

Enlisted at Kapunda, SA (it was actually Oakland, SA)

It’s odd but aye.

photo attached with him on horseback, he’s without emu plumes so I’d bet in 1915 in training. 

AAD2696E-6F51-4DE2-A80B-3AFA5F84D97A.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He’s carrying a MkIII SMLE and it’s associated bayonet, which along with the leather ‘Stohwasser’ gaiters procured via an Australian government contract, he’s certainly serving in a regular rather than militia capacity at the time of the photo.  There’s a badge on his slouch hat and good magnification of such a high resolution photo should reveal what that is.  He’s riding a typical Waler, which was an extremely effective military mount in hard conditions, similar to a Mustang in the US.

NB.  Presumably Berri in South Australia was the location of the photo.  I’m not sure what RSL might stand for.  Royal New South Wales Lancers perhaps (the Royal appellation was awarded before WW2 but the annotation might have been added to the photo at that time)? 

“In August 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, the 1st Light Horse Regiment was formed at Rosebury Park in Sydney, as part of the raising of a 20,000-man expeditionary force known as the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The new regiment was raised mainly from volunteers of the 7th Australian Light Horse (New South Wales Lancers), an existing militia unit based in Sydney and on the New South Wales south coast.”

“Upon establishment, the men from the 7th ALH formed the bulk of Regimental Headquarters, and A and B Squadrons, while AIF volunteers made up the remainder of the new unit. Among them were veterans of the New South Wales Lancers who had fought in South Africa.  Sailing from Sydney on 19 October, the 1st Light Horse disembarked in Egypton 8 December 1914 and later went on to fight in Gallipoli, after being dispatched there in May 1915 with the 1st Light Horse Brigade. Serving in a dismounted role, they reinforced the New Zealand and Australian Division around Anzac Cove, and undertook mainly defensive tasks. In August, the regiment mounted a diversionary assault around a position dubbed "the Chessboard", where they suffered heavy casualties. After withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the regiment returned to a mounted role….”

21741582-A2FC-44AF-B604-6D9410D32176.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
Link to comment
Share on other sites

49 minutes ago, FROGSMILE said:

He’s carrying a MkIII SMLE and it’s associated bayonet, which along with the leather ‘Stohwasser’ gaiters procured via an Australian government contract, he’s certainly serving in a regular rather than militia capacity at the time of the photo.  There’s a badge on his slouch hat and good magnification of such a high resolution photo should reveal what that is.  He’s riding a typical Waler, which was an extremely effective military mount in hard conditions, similar to a Mustang in the US.

NB.  Presumably Berri in South Australia was the location of the photo.  I’m not sure what RSL might stand for Royal New South Wales Lancers perhaps (the Royal appellation was awarded before WW2 but the annotation might have been added to the photo at that time)? 

“In August 1914, following the outbreak of the First World War, the 1st Light Horse Regiment was formed at Rosebury Park in Sydney, as part of the raising of a 20,000-man expeditionary force known as the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The new regiment was raised mainly from volunteers of the 7th Australian Light Horse (New South Wales Lancers), an existing militia unit based in Sydney and on the New South Wales south coast.”

“Upon establishment, the men from the 7th ALH formed the bulk of Regimental Headquarters, and A and B Squadrons, while AIF volunteers made up the remainder of the new unit. Among them were veterans of the New South Wales Lancers who had fought in South Africa.  Sailing from Sydney on 19 October, the 1st Light Horse disembarked in Egypton 8 December 1914 and later went on to fight in Gallipoli, after being dispatched there in May 1915 with the 1st Light Horse Brigade. Serving in a dismounted role, they reinforced the New Zealand and Australian Division around Anzac Cove, and undertook mainly defensive tasks. In August, the regiment mounted a diversionary assault around a position dubbed "the Chessboard", where they suffered heavy casualties. After withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the regiment returned to a mounted role….”

21741582-A2FC-44AF-B604-6D9410D32176.jpeg

Quick response since limited time

RSL is Returned Servicemen League

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...