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Remembered Today:

Question for Australian Pals


Messina1915
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Have been interested in this lad since I saw his grave on a school trip in 2004 - combination of his age (17) and the inscription on his grave:

ADIEU DEAR LAD

WHAT NEED OF TEARS

OR FEARS FOR YOU

Have found his records on the NAA and AWM, but I was wondering if there is any way of finding out his date of birth? His attestation papers give his age as 18 years 1 month on 30 July 1915, but given that his grave gives his age as 17 when he died on 26 July 1916, he must have been 16. I would imagine that he simply added 2 years to his age and therefore he was born about June 1899, but would love to know his actual date of birth - I suspect this may not be possible, especially for me living in England, but would appreciate it if someone could tell me what the chances are of finding out.

My other question is having searched for his brother, Sydney Albert Sheffield, who survived the war, I've found two court martial records (one on 7 July 1917, the other on 4 October 1918), but neither is available online. Question is, is it a case of them simply not having been scanned yet or will they never be available online because they are court martial records? I've found his embarkation record on the AWM, and a reference to him in his brother's files, plus the court martial records, but nothing else - am I correct in thinking that this is all there is on him, as if there was anything else it would be listed?

Cheers,

Carole.

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Hi Carole.

I used to have all of the Australian birth, death & marriage CDs but sold them some time ago (if Victoria, would be the Edwardian Index). Sure there must be someone on this forum who has them. Btw, I might have tired eyes but don't think you've mentioned the state or territory where he was born..? Also, his full name and his parents' names, if mentioned in his AIF record. Failing any offers here, I'm sure any number of people on the GENANZ mailing list/newsgroup would be happy to look it up for you.

On the court martial records, the status is Open so there is no bar to getting a copy. Click on the control symbol, the request copy and away you go. You can choose digital image or photocopy. In days gone by, the NAA would sometimes send paper copies and, if it was only a handful of pages, waive the cost. Sometimes I think this was almost by way of an apology for taking a month or more to get back to you. There was also a scheme where anyone could order up to 6 items annually to be scanned (this could take time but was free).

Things have probably changed now - a little more in line with their UK counterparts. I have to say, though, I have always found the NAA excellent to deal with, very helpful and often going out of their way to provide assistance.

The epitaph is from "A Soldier Son" (Anonymous):

Adieu!

What need of tears

Or fears

For you!

Adieu!

This is no common day -

Your feet upon the way

All Knights of old have trod,

All Saints hacked through to God.

Your soul shall catch

Their glinting glory:

While from afar I watch

How you shall match

Their story.

Adieu!

regards,

Martin

p.s. Have you tried searching NAA just on his surname and service number. Occasionally other records only use his initials.

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Leslie Andrew Sheffield (service number 2512) was born 1899 Father William A mother Susannah. St Peters NSW Reg No 25133.

Court martial records are not digitised unless by special request and attracts a fee. Sometimes the court martial papers are included in the service details and the offence is recorded on the B103 form (from memory).

http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/imagine.as...mp;I=1&SE=1

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Sandra: is that 1899 from the birth records? If so I take it there is no record of the date, or was it from somewhere else?

His CGWC record gives him as a native of Sydney, New South Wales. His attestation papers give his place of birth as the parish of St Peters, near the town of Newtown, in the county of (looks like) Cumberland, and then a squiggle underneath which might be nsw for New South Wales. His parents names were William and Susannah Sheffield (according to the CWGC record, though sometimes in his papers she's referred to or signs herself as Susan). His full name as mentioned above was Leslie Andrew Sheffield.

Thanks for finding his brother's papers Sandra - I don't know why I didn't think that they might have misspelt Sydney. Just off to read them. Leslie had a few brushes with military discipline (four in a year, the last six days before he died) too.

Martin: many thanks for the poem - I had no idea it was taken from a poem - it's the only grave I saw with it on, and it seemed so poignant when considering his age.

P.S. Just seen that Sydney's papers give his age as 22 years 2 months on 17 November 1915, so I would imagine that he was born in the second half of August or the first half of September 1893 - again, if anyone can confirm, it would be much appreciated.

Cheers,

Carole.

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Yes Carole ... the DOB was from the NSW BMD index.

Sydney A J C Sheffield was born in St Peters although 1896 and again from the same source. There was another brother Alfred E Sheffield. Several sisters too and it looks like Susannah died and William married again and possibly lost that wife and married a third time. Although I have not followed through with that research as it is not important to yours at this stage.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Hi Sandra

Many thanks for your help. Interesting what you say about his mother dying - from Leslie's file it seems that his father died before the war and it was his mother who exchanged a series of letters with the authorities about his personal effects etc.

Why would Sydney give his age as 22 rather than 19? A mystery that will probably never be resolved. Have searched NAA and AWM and the only Alfred Sheffield clearly isn't Leslie and Sydney's brother, so he obviously didn't serve.

Many thanks for your help Sandra - I think I'll just keep looking at Leslie and Sydney (although with Sydney's charge sheet, I doubt he spent much time in the front line) rather than try and puzzle out the mysteries of who's who in their families!

Cheers,

Carole.

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"Why would Sydney give his age as 22 rather than 19? A mystery that will probably never be resolved."

I would say that he could not get parental permission to enlist and put his age up. Was quite a common occurance :)

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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I've got more than enough to be reading between now and going on holiday on the 31st but when I get back I hope I'll have time to start piecing together Leslie's service - what his various punishments entailed, and the fighting he was involved in, especially when he was killed - and there's plenty of info in his various files to be going on.

I might come back to Sydney at a later date - his charge sheet is very interesting, to say the least (actually sentenced to death at one stage for mutiny, then had sentence commuted, won't say any more, don't want to break the forum rules), but he probably spent very little time in the front line, and Leslie is my main interest anyway.

Cheers,

Carole.

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I would say that he could not get parental permission to enlist and put his age up. Was quite a common occurance :)

Did you have to have parental permission at 19 in Australia? Didn't know that. And Leslie got permission and he was underage - his mother's letter is in his file.

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Yes Carol ... the age of consent was 21. Sometimes the agreed to one young son going as often the boys were required to work on family farms or other family businesses etc.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Thanks Sandra, that explains it.

Cheers,

Carole.

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Leslie Andrew Sheffield (service number 2512) was born 1899 Father William A mother Susannah. St Peters NSW Reg No 25133.

Court martial records are not digitised unless by special request and attracts a fee. Sometimes the court martial papers are included in the service details and the offence is recorded on the B103 form (from memory).

http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/imagine.as...mp;I=1&SE=1

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Being ex-regular Royal Navy I was amazed on reading about Leslie Sheffield at the amount time he did in D.Qs. I wonder if any member of the forum have any info on the armys Military prison routine in particular the one in which Leslie did his time at ROUEN. I did notice that he was at ETAPLE during the "TROUBLE" and an OFFICER did use the word MUTINY in his write-up on the charge sheet although having read various books on the subject the discription of the event is open to debate. Chris
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Being ex-regular Royal Navy I was amazed on reading about Leslie Sheffield at the amount time he did in D.Qs. I wonder if any member of the forum have any info on the armys Military prison routine in particular the one in which Leslie did his time at ROUEN. I did notice that he was at ETAPLE during the "TROUBLE" and an OFFICER did use the word MUTINY in his write-up on the charge sheet although having read various books on the subject the discription of the event is open to debate. Chris

I think I got the two brothers mixed up, its Sidney Albert Sheffield who is of interest. "SORRY". cHRIS

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I have some more information about Sydney Sheffield's circumstances which might assist. The situation in which Sydney found himself is a sensitive one, so I will stick to the facts as gathered from several sources.

It appears that Sydney was found guilty by a field general court martial on 6 July 1916 after being charged with refusal to obey an order and refusal to work. This followed two previous convictions in June 1916 in Etaples. He was sentenced to one year’s hard labour and on 21 July was admitted to No.1 Military Prison, Blargies North Camp, which is near Abancourt.

This camp accommodated several hundred prisoners who were frequently sent to work in labouring gangs for various engineering units which were operating in the locality. In addition to hard labour, various sources also document the range of punishments metered out to prisoners. Needless to say, these circumstances coupled with harsh living conditions and the character of the prisoners and guards created a volatile climate.

The incident involving Sydney Sheffield occurred on 28 August 1916 in the Australian and New Zealanders’ compound. It transpired that four Australian soldiers (including Sheffield) and one New Zealand soldier where found guilty of mutiny and sentenced to “suffer death by being shot”. The sentences were confirmed by General Sir Douglas Haig on 25 October 1916. However, on 26 October 1916 the sentences for the four Australian soldiers were commuted to two years internment with hard labour. The authority for this decision was notated on the service records as coming from the Advocate General GHQ. In essence, the change in sentence stemmed from the operation of section 98 of the Commonwealth of Australia Defence Act 1903 which stated:

No member of the Defence Force shall be sentenced to death by an court-martial except for mutiny, desertion to the enemy, or traitorously delivering up to the enemy any garrison, fortress, post, guard, or ship, vessel, or boat, or traitorous correspondence with the enemy; and no sentence of death passed by any court-martial shall be carried into effect until confirmed by the Governor-General.

The key factor in the section being confirmation of the sentence by the Governor-General of Australia, which for various reason was never given.

The three other Australian soldiers were:

3254 Pte. Alexander Little, 10 Bn AIF

2414 Pte. Frederick William Mitchell, 5 Bn AIF

2943 Pte. Bertie Whitmore Le Guier, 14 Bn AIF [Le Guier was an alias; true name was Bertie Whitmore]

Pte. Little was the focus of the incident and on reading his service record it is a wonder how he was eventually accepted into service. Having attested on 12 February 1915 in Keswick, South Australia, he was discharged on 29 April 1915 with the comment “unlikely to become an efficient soldier”. There followed a second enlistment on 24 August 1915 at Blackboy Hill in Western Australia which culminated with a discharge on 17 September for disciplinary reasons. His third attempt on 27 October 1915 in Perth, Western Australia, was cancelled. Finally, he found his way onto a transport and landed in Egypt without official designation. He attested in Zeitoun, Egypt, on 2 December 1915. There were various offences in Egypt and France before his detention at Blargiers.

The service files are there for all to read. One final note. Pte Little eventually did see action despite his periods in prison and hospital. He was killed on 4 June 1918 and is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial. Pte. Frederick Mitchell was killed in action on 11 August 1918 and is buried in Vignacourt British Cemetery. Pte Bertie Whitmore [Le Guier] was repatriated to Australia in August 1918 and discharged medically unfit in January 1919. Sydney Sheffield died in Marrickville, New South Wales, in 1964.

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I have some more information about Sydney Sheffield's circumstances which might assist. The situation in which Sydney found himself is a sensitive one, so I will stick to the facts as gathered from several sources.

It appears that Sydney was found guilty by a field general court martial on 6 July 1916 after being charged with refusal to obey an order and refusal to work. This followed two previous convictions in June 1916 in Etaples. He was sentenced to one year’s hard labour and on 21 July was admitted to No.1 Military Prison, Blargies North Camp, which is near Abancourt.

This camp accommodated several hundred prisoners who were frequently sent to work in labouring gangs for various engineering units which were operating in the locality. In addition to hard labour, various sources also document the range of punishments metered out to prisoners. Needless to say, these circumstances coupled with harsh living conditions and the character of the prisoners and guards created a volatile climate.

The incident involving Sydney Sheffield occurred on 28 August 1916 in the Australian and New Zealanders’ compound. It transpired that four Australian soldiers (including Sheffield) and one New Zealand soldier where found guilty of mutiny and sentenced to “suffer death by being shot”. The sentences were confirmed by General Sir Douglas Haig on 25 October 1916. However, on 26 October 1916 the sentences for the four Australian soldiers were commuted to two years internment with hard labour. The authority for this decision was notated on the service records as coming from the Advocate General GHQ. In essence, the change in sentence stemmed from the operation of section 98 of the Commonwealth of Australia Defence Act 1903 which stated:

No member of the Defence Force shall be sentenced to death by an court-martial except for mutiny, desertion to the enemy, or traitorously delivering up to the enemy any garrison, fortress, post, guard, or ship, vessel, or boat, or traitorous correspondence with the enemy; and no sentence of death passed by any court-martial shall be carried into effect until confirmed by the Governor-General.

The key factor in the section being confirmation of the sentence by the Governor-General of Australia, which for various reason was never given.

The three other Australian soldiers were:

3254 Pte. Alexander Little, 10 Bn AIF

2414 Pte. Frederick William Mitchell, 5 Bn AIF

2943 Pte. Bertie Whitmore Le Guier, 14 Bn AIF [Le Guier was an alias; true name was Bertie Whitmore]

Pte. Little was the focus of the incident and on reading his service record it is a wonder how he was eventually accepted into service. Having attested on 12 February 1915 in Keswick, South Australia, he was discharged on 29 April 1915 with the comment “unlikely to become an efficient soldier”. There followed a second enlistment on 24 August 1915 at Blackboy Hill in Western Australia which culminated with a discharge on 17 September for disciplinary reasons. His third attempt on 27 October 1915 in Perth, Western Australia, was cancelled. Finally, he found his way onto a transport and landed in Egypt without official designation. He attested in Zeitoun, Egypt, on 2 December 1915. There were various offences in Egypt and France before his detention at Blargiers.

The service files are there for all to read. One final note. Pte Little eventually did see action despite his periods in prison and hospital. He was killed on 4 June 1918 and is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial. Pte. Frederick Mitchell was killed in action on 11 August 1918 and is buried in Vignacourt British Cemetery. Pte Bertie Whitmore [Le Guier] was repatriated to Australia in August 1918 and discharged medically unfit in January 1919. Sydney Sheffield died in Marrickville, New South Wales, in 1964.

Many thanks for your answer . Chris.
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Leslie Andrew SHEFFIELD

Regimental number: 2512

Religion: Church of England

Occupation: Cattle drover

Address: 91 Regent Street, Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales

Marital status: Single

Age at embarkation: 18

Next of kin: Mother, Mrs S Sheffield, 91 Regent Street, Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales

Date of enlistment: 30 July 1915

Rank: Private

Unit: 17th Battalion, 5th Reinforcement

Embarkation details: Unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A32 Themistocles on 5 October 1915

Fate: Killed in Action 26 July 1916

Age at death from cemetery records: 17

Place of burial Delville Wood Cemetery (Plot XVIII, Row Q, Grave No. 3), Longueval, France

Parents: William and Susannah SHEFFIELD, 188 Wilson Street, Newtown, New South Wales. Native of Sydney

Cheers,

David

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