Monday, August 27, 2012

More heroes from the Carterton Memorial

Sergeant James Nicholas O'Donnell a carpenter from Carterton embarked 26 April 1917 attached to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.  He was awarded a Military Medal for gallantry for and his actions which have been remembered in several books on the Great War.  He was killed in action on 3 November 1918 at the relief of Le Quesnoy only days before the armistice. 

London Gazette, 16 July 1918, p8334, Rec No 2074: For conspicuous gallantry and coolness during the operations on the right of Hebuterne on the morning of the 27th March 1918. In charge of a section of 20 men, the enemy surrounded his party, calling on them to surrender. Lance Corporal O'Donnell at once charged the enemy with bayonet and, calling on his party to follow him, succeeded in driving the enemy back, inflicting heavy casualties. His magnificent example greatly inspired his men. 

Trooper Neil Mclaren Douglas embarked with the 15th Reinforcements, NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade on 13 July 1916.  He received a Military Medal for gallant conduct during an attack on Beerseba on 31 October 1917 where he was slightly wounded and remained with his unit, the following link is an account of the attack Beersheba is in Southern Israel.   Almost a year later, on 6 October 1918 he was admitted to hospital sick with Malaria.  He never recovered and died on 19 October 1918.  He was buried at the Ramleh War Cemetery the next day.

Trooper John Leybourne Grace's war was a short one and he did not win any medals for gallantry but he should like all those who gave the utlimate sacrifice be remembered as a hero.  The only son of the late Nathaniel Grace and Emily Grace of Carterton he was keen to enlist.  A  shepherd on the Ngakonui farm a hill country farm South East of Martinborough  he enlisted at Dannevirke on 12 August 1914 where he stated his date of birth as 4 November 1893 making him 20 years old and eligible for enlistment (20 years old being the minimum age for enlistment).  However further research on the Department of Internal Affairs death register revealed that his birth was registered in 1895 thus he was underage.  Trooper Grace embarked with the main body on 16 October 1914 and was killed in action at Gallipoli on 30 May 1915 aged 19 years old. 

The grief felt by his mother at losing her only son in a battle he was too young to fight is unimaginable - I wonder if she had, had any notion that her son had enlisted under age before he turned up in uniform to say goodbye before embarking  Dannevirke is a fair distance from his place of employment and Carterton where his mother lived and he most likely enlisted there as his real age would have been unknown to the local people.  This of course is not a unique story as many young men lied about their age and some older men too (the maximum age was 38 years) so that they too could do their bit for King and country.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

William Farquharson Bey - Carterton Memorial

Article image
Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume LXX, Issue 146143, 2 January 1917

William Bey was the only son of Dr William and Eveline D'Ainslie Bey of Greytown he embarked on 26 April 1917 with the 25th reinforcements aboard the Tofua from Wellington.  He was killed in action on 25 August 1918 at Bapaume aged 32. Below are two accounts of his life and death:

"Killed in action on August 25th, 1917 [sic], enlisted as a private in the 1st Battalion Otago Regiment, and left with the 25th Reinforcements. Before his death he had attained the rank of Sergeant, and the same morning had taken part in a stunt to capture a certain objective close to Bapaume, when he was mortally wounded by a bursting shell. As he was brought in to R.A.P. he gradually but quietly sank, and was buried near the village of Biefvillers close to the scene of his last fight. He studied electrical engineering in Wellington after leaving school, but later relinquished it in order to farm the Springbank Estate, Gladstone. His demeanour under the most trying conditions was always excellent. He knew no fear, and died as he had lived, a brave man, caring for nothing but the knowledge that he had done his duty." (In Memoriam, 1914-1918 [Wanganui Collegiate School])

 Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 75, 25 September 1918 

Sadly for the Bey family more sorrow follow only weeks later when William's father (Dr W Bey) died from the influenza epidemic on 14 November 1918.   His son William is remembered on his headstone.

Gunner James Kay Strang with whom Bey had been given a 'hearty send off' survived the war but lost his brother Captain John Donald Kay Strang at the Somme on 15 September 1916 aged 22 years.  He had a distinguished military record being mentioned in dispatches twice.  John Donald Kay Strange is also commemorated on the Carterton Memorial.


The Dudson Brothers - Carterton Memorial

Mabel Theresa Dudson and Joseph Alfred Dudson had eleven children in total, seven sons and three daughters.  The family were a devout Roman Catholic family and during World War One five of their sons served with the NZ Army.  The Dudson family should have been proud of their contribution.  However as with many families in New Zealand their contribution came at a cost.

Initially 3 sons volunteered for active service. Firstly Walter Francis Dudson who was a teacher before enlisting and during his service earned a commission being promoted to a Lieutenant.  Secondly Louis Chanel Dodson enlisted also earning a commission eventually becoming a 2nd Lieutenant and was mentioned in dispatches:
Mentioned in Field Marshall D. Haig's despatch of 7 November 1917 for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty during the period February 26th to midnight September 20-21st, 1917. London Gazette 28 December 1917, p13575.
Then thirdly Paul Huett Dudson who before enlisting had been a civil servant working in Gisborne for the Maori Land Board and like his brother's also earned a commission becoming a 2nd Lieutenant.

The fourth brother to enlist was Stephen John Dudson who was called up for service in the first Ballot.  In January 1917 he unsuccessfully appealed his call up citing that it would be hard on his parents who already had 3 sons serving and he embarked on 13 August 1917.   After Stephen two further brothers were called up namely Alfred Joseph (the eldest of the 7 sons) in the seventh ballot and then Oliver Huett who was only 20 years old.  In June 1918 their father Joseph appealed to the Military Board that they be excused from service, stating he already had four sons serving at the front.   His appeal was held over until the following month.  In July 1918 the Board decided that Alfred should go to camp (although he only served with the reserves in NZ) and that the younger brother could appeal again.  As the appeal was brought in the middle of 1918 it seems that the war ended before the younger brother's appeal was heard again and he never served.

One cannot help but feel sympathy for the parents as they tried to avoid risking the lives of a further sons by appealing their call up.   Life must have been full of worry having four sons on active service, every knock on the door must have been full of trepidation.

Although unaware that the war was coming to an end as the end of  October 1918 approached the Dudson family must have thought themselves fortunate that their sons serving were still alive.  The family would have been witness to the heartbreak other Carterton families suffered as they received the devasting news over the years that their sons had been killed.

Sadly as ever during this war the family did not escape unscathed. Louis Chanel Dudson who had been Mentioned in Dispatches for his distinguished and gallant service was killed in action on 28 October 1918 and Le Cateau in France.

Below are the Auckland War Memorial Museums Centotaph database links to the information held on all 5 Dudson Brothers.

Alfred Joseph Dudson

Louis Chanel Dudson

Paul Huett Dudson

Stephen John Dudson

Walter Francis Dudson