31st May 1918 – Remembering Norman Jack Niccol

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102 Norman Jack Niccol – Photo source; CSR A record of war Service of Members of the staff 1914 – 1918

102 Norman “Jack” John Niccol

Norman was born in Sydney in 1893 to parents Thomas and Lilian Niccol.  Along with his younger brother Thomas Roy Niccol they originally lived at Leichhardt on the fringe of  the city of Sydney.

By the age of twenty Norman had completed his electrical apprenticeship while employed with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for 4 years .

In 1914 he enlisted with the 1st Field Company Engineers as a Sapper.

On Sunday the 18th October 1914 the men of the First Field Company Engineers embarked for a seven week voyage at sea. A few false starts and weeks of delays, the loss of one of its original members and 8 weeks of training and finally the men were about to head off for the great adventure. The drum beat sounded – Reveille – at 5.00 a.m and the 1st FCE broke camp at Moore Park and marched to the trams to take them to the wharf at Woolloomooloo Bay. They were then taken by Ferry to board the troopship A19 – Afric.

The fading signature of Norman Niccol appears in the bottom left corner of the original postcard of the Afric belonging to fellow original 101 John Hoey Moore.

Coincidently John Moore and Norman Niccol had consecutive regiment numbers 101 and 102 respectively, so it very likely they were tent mates at Moore Park when they enlisted and in the same section of the 1st FCE.

Signatures of originals hmats-afric.jpg enhanced
Original photo – Courtesy Jack Moore Private collection

Norman served continuously at Gallipoli until the evacuation, when he returned with the rest of the company to Alexandria, Egypt on the troopship Caledonia on the 27th December 1915.

Caledonia
While camped at Alexandria,  Norman was appointed lance corporal 22.1.1916 but was quickly reduced to rank of sapper after he was found guilty for disobeying the command of a senior officer and was absent without leave for 22 hrs.

In March 1916 Norman proceeded to France and then onwards with the 1st FCE to the western front.

On the 20th August 1916 he was wounded, an injury to his left hand. After a quick recovery he was granted leave and had taken only 3 days and rejoined the unit in the field where shortly after in September he was transferred to the No.4 A.D.S Col (Australian Division Supply Column) as a Driver.

On the 31st May 1918,  a number of ammunition lorries from the supply company that Norman was attached were parked at Allonville on the Somme, near Amiens. Two high explosive shells landed among the lorries  where Noman and his mate 5451 Roland Rose were sleeping. A shell fragment punctured the floor of the lorry and ripped through Normans legs. Roland Rose was not wounded and managed to drive Norman to the casualty clearing station all the while Norman was conscious and holding onto what remained of his severely injured legs.

Norman ‘s legs were amputated in an attempt to save his life , unfortunately later that evening Norman died from his wounds.

Norman’s service record shows he has the rare distinction of serving continuously in France from the 28th March 1916 to 31st May 1918 except for 3 days leave. Over 2 years at the front in any capacity was extraordinary.

Norman Jack Niccol was buried in a small British War cemetery in the town of Longueau which is situated on the south-eastern outskirts of Amiens, the cemetery located on the eastern side of the town.

Longueau British Cemetery was begun in April 1918, when the Allied line was re-established. The cemetery contains 204 First World War burials, 14 of which are unidentified.

Norman’s memory is honoured at the wall of remembrance in Canberra.

Norman Jack Niccol’s name will also be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on the following dates:

Thu 28 June 2018 at 7:23pm
Sat 11 August 2018 at 12:01am
Sat 29 September 2018 at 2:01am

AWM_canberra_1

Sources:

AWM, NLA

Original Postcard photo – Courtesy Jack Moore Private collection

Photo by Len @ findagrave.comuserprofile48488629

Photo source: CSR – A record of war service of members of the staff 1914 – 1918

22nd May 1918 -Remembering Alexander Finnie

P07219.001 20 Alexander Finnie
20 Alexander Finnie

20 Alexander Finnie

Alexander Finnie was a 21 year old sheet metal worker and employed by the Randwick Tramway department. His proud parents living at Botany were Alexander James and Ida Jane (nee Bullock). Alexander also had an older sister who unfortunately died in 1911.
Alex served almost 3 years in the 1st Field Company Engineers and had a long stay at Gallipoli up to the 18th August. A near miss from a shell blast and gas poisoning meant that he was transferred to hospital in Alexandria, very sick and suffering from deafness. Like many others Alex was keen to recover and get back into the fray, and he did, but this time he would do it from the sky as a flying officer.
Alex had transferred to Flying school in England and graduated as a flying officer and was appointed 2nd Lieut. and posted to the Australian Flying Corp.

Now wearing his wings he proceeded overseas to France and reported for duty with the No 4 Squadron AFC, the last squadron to be formed during the first World War.
The 4th Squadron had arrived in France in December 1917 and established itself at Bruay France and operated in support of the British 1st Army, undertaking offensive patrols and escorting reconnaissance machines.

Sopwith Camels No 4 Squadron AFC -France 24 March 1918 - AWM-24-march-1918-awm
Sopwith Camels No 4 Squadron AFC -France 24 March 1918 – AWM

Towards the end of February 1918 the squadron was made up of 24 flying machines, considerably enhancing its capacity for offensive operations.
March 1918 saw an increase in the 4th squadron’s ground attacks and offensive patrols, including a notable engagement with elements of Manfred von Richthofen’s “Flying Circus” on 21 March, during which five enemy machines were downed in an attack led by Captain Arthur Henry Cobby , who would become the AFC’s number one flying ace .
No. 4 Squadron claimed more “kills” than any other AFC unit, 199 enemy aircraft destroyed and 33 enemy balloons were destroyed or driven down.

Capt_A_H_Cobby_DSO_DFC

Cpt Arthur Henry Cobby – DSO, DFC

In May of 1918 the Squadron had moved from Bruay to Clairmarais North and the 4th squadron was heavily involved in strafing and bombing operations in support of the retreating Allied ground forces.
On the 22nd May 1918 Lieut. Finnie was on his usual offensive and balloon patrol in his Sopwith Camel No. D1924. Enemy observation balloons were stationed thousands of feet in the air and tethered to the ground and fiercely protected by machine guns and anti-aircraft artillery known as “Archie”.
Even with incendiary bullets the gas in the balloons was hard to ignite and downing a balloon took a lot of shooting while running a gauntlet of ground-fire and keeping a sharp eye out for enemy scouts trying to protect the balloons.
On this day while diving and firing on enemy balloons Lieut. Alex Finnie collided with fellow flyer Lieut.G Nowland. They both spun to the ground five miles over enemy lines, their planes falling to pieces as they crashed to the ground at Neuf Berquin and both men were killed.
The following eye witness accounts describe the action that saw Alexander Finnie meet his end.
“ We were firing on enemy balloons. I was flying with him and saw him go down. He collided with another chap and they both fell from about 10,000 ft over the German lines. I should certainly say there was little hope of his being alive. I wrote to his people.”
Informant – F/Lieut R.C Nelson 4th Squadron A.F.C
“I knew Lieutenant Finnie in the Squadron. I saw him killed on the 22nd May 1918. The Squadron was then engaged in an offensive patrol near Estaires. I saw Lieutenant Finnie and Lieutenant Nowland attack a German captive balloon. Their machines collided and Lieutenant Finnie’s machine fell. “
Informant – Captain Roy King 4th Squadron A.F.C

Alex Finnie flight record

Alexander Finnie’s last flight record.

Alexander’s father was notified in 1921 that his son Alex Finnie was exhumed and later reburied in an Imperial War grave at Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery (Plot II, Row F, Grave No. 19), La Gorque, France.

Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery La Gorque France
Pont-du-Hem Military Cemetery La Gorque France

On this day we also remember and pay tribute to Alexander’s flying mate Lieut. George Nowland who also died in the tragic accident.

Alexander’s page is now available and will continue to be updated ……………………….

Read More – clink on this link

Remembering 215 William ALLAN (WHELAN)

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

215 William Patrick Allan (Whelan)

William Patrick Allan (Whelan) was the mischievous type , perhaps a well liked trouble maker, a bit of a modern day larrikin.

His trouble making behaviour was probably always expected by his officers but was never overlooked or went unpunished, however persistent.  None the less his superiors must have always seen the soldier in William.

In his final moments as an original with the 1st FCE he demonstrated the bravery and courage that proved his true soldiering spirit.

William made the ultimate sacrifice at the “Battle of Pozieres” attempting to save a mate.

“everyone said he ought to get the V.C . he went out in the very thick of the firing”

memorial
Australian Memorial – Villers Bretonneux Somme

William Whelan served as William Allan and will always be remembered for his bravery, and courage.  Missing from the 23rd of July, officially it was recorded he was killed in action on this day 25th July 1915.

READ MORE ……..William Allan Whelan’s Story

249 Sapper Alan Alexander Wilson-Walker

Remembered on this day 20th March 1916.

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

249 Alan Alexander Wilson- Walker was born in 1893 in Woolhara Sydney, to parents Alexander Wilson and Edith Gertrude Wilson nee Cater. Alan had a younger brother William Douglas and two sisters Sylvia and Dora.
His father Alexander died in tragic circumstances in  1897 when Alan was just four years old.
Widowed and with four young children Edith later remarried in 1901 marrying prominent Sydney Chartered accountant and businessman Charles Alfred Le Maistre Walker. The children then adopted the extended family name of Wilson – Walker.
Edith and Charles would later also have two son’s from their marriage Charles and Theobald.

The Wilson-Walker family were at this time a very prominant family due largely to their father Charles who was a very successful man. He was senior partner of his own  accounting firm C.A Le Mastrie Walker Son & Co. He was also a Director of John Shaw Aust Ltd, Director of  Universal Land and Deposit Bank Ltd, a member of The Farmers Relief Board and the Government representative on the Egg Marketing Board of NSW.

Alan Wilson-Walker grew up in the family home “Coolagalla”, a grand home which still stands today on the corner of Station and Grandview street Pymble New South Wales.

Alan and his younger brother William both attended The Sydney Church of England Grammar School –  today known as Shore school for boys in North Sydney and together they  enjoyed golf with their stepfather as members of the Killara Golf club. The Killara golf club later becoming well known for replacing golf competitions with rifle shooting competitions in the spirit of encouraging recruitment rather than leisurely sporting pursuits during wartime.
Alan also had three years in the Scottish Rifles while also working as an electrical engineer for Warburton & Franki Ltd. prior to enlistment.

When war broke out in 1914, the war became a family affair for the Wilson- Walker’s in a very unique way. They were a family that together would make the ultimate personal sacrifice abroad and suffer great loss, but with unswerving dedication to the war effort at home, they made huge personal contributions to establish war funds, comfort funds and organisations in support of families and soldiers. They played a significant part in the  Australian war time history at home, details that have been overlooked and never before been highlighted.

Alan was 21 when he enlisted as a sapper with the Imperial Expeditionary Forces. He was temporarily discharged possibly due to illness for a short time and was reinstated and placed with the 1st Reinforcements Field Coy. Engineers under Lieut. Bachtold on the 19th October 1914 and later embarked on the A35 Berrima and joined up with original members of the 1st FCE in Egypt.
His brother William Douglas Wilson-Walker, attended the University of Sydney, and became an Economics graduate perhaps planning on joining the family firm of C. A. Le Maistre Walker, Chartered Accountants, but the war interrupted any plans he may have had and he also enlisted in June 1915.
Meanwhile his parents Edith and Charles were also doing their bit for the war effort. Through his private firm of chartered accountants, Charles already connected to the most eminent citizens of New South Wales, put his position to extaordinary use.

Charles founded the Citizens War Chest Fund of NSW in 1914 and was Hon. Secretary for the duration of the War, he was also Hon. General Secretary of the Australian Comforts Fund 1916, he also organised the formation of the French Australian League of Help and organised the NSW Returned Soldiers Association in 1916.

Then in April of 1915 it was sapper Alan Alexander Wilson-Walker who would take the next step’s towards the making of Australian history.

Alan took part in the first landing at Gallipoli on the morning of 25th April and served up to 23rd July when suffering from Otitis, an acute middle ear infection, he was transferred to St Patricks military hospital in Malta.
Still unwell in September, he was eventually transferred to England and admitted to the 1st General hospital Birmingham.

During his time in recovery he took the opportunity to apply for an appointment in the  Royal Flying Corps (RFC) the air arm of the British Army during the First World War.
On December 6th 1915 he was discharged from the Australian forces and appointed to a commission in the Imperial Army Royal Flying Corp.


By January 20th 1916,  Alan had qualified as an airman, flying a Maurice Farman Biplane and graduated from Brooklands with his Aeronautics certificate and was now Second Lieutenant No 13 Reserve Squadron Royal Flying Corps.

Farman Shorthorn MF11
Farman Shorthorn MF11

On March the 20th exactly two months after graduating, Alan was killed.

On the 24th the coroners findings confirmed “accidental death” and his funeral took place on the same day with full military honours.
The Dover Express reported the findings of the coroner and also reported on his funeral.

AUSTRALIAN FLYING OFFICER KILLED.

“The inquest on Lieut. A. Wilson Walker, who was killed near Dover in an aeroplane accident on Monday at 11.30 a.m., was held on Wednesday afternoon by the County Coroner (Mr. R. Mowll). The evidence was that the deceased officer was returning from a cross-country flight, and was seen near the Dover end of the Guston tunnel to be flying at a dangerously slow speed and then to turn. The machine sideslipped and nose-dived 1,500 feet, striking the ground and smashing to pieces. The deceased was found strapped in the machine dead, his spine being fractured, skull fractured, and both legs and one arm broken.

It was stated that he was an Australian, 22 years of age, and had served all through the Gallipoli affair, taking his ticket January 10th, and had done sixteen hours’ flying. The elevator, which was the only way of getting a machine out of a nose-dive, was in good order after the accident.

The Coroner expressed their sorrow at this gallant young officer’s death, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.”  – Source: – ‘ Dover Express ‘

 

Dover Express – Friday 24 March 1916

“FUNERAL OF LIEUT. A. A. WILSON-WALKER. The funeral took place, with full military honours, at St. James’s Cemetery, of Second Lieut. A. A. Wilson-Walker, Royal Flying Corps, who died on March 20th, at the age of 22 years. The officiating clergyman was the Rev. C. Haines, C.F.; and the band attendance was that of the 6th Royal Fusiliers. The mourners present were Mr. and Mrs. Muggleton, Mr. and Mrs. Theobald, and Mr. Keigwin. There were floral tributes from the officers of the R.F.C. (consisting of a large cross of white lillies 4ft. in length); warrant officers and sergeants, and from the corporals and air mechanics, R.F.C. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Flashman and Co., of Dover and Folkestone.” Source –Dover Express – Friday 24 March 1916.

St James Cemetery Dover Kent England
St James Cemetery Dover Kent England

During his time in England while preparing to be an aviator, Alan was having his correspondence sent to a  C .Theobald Esq. at 11 Egerton Place London, possibly a relative of the Walkers in the UK. They were more than likely the same Mr.and Mrs Theobald who attended his funeral.

Four months later his brother  7162 William Douglas Wilson-Walker, also died from severe shrapnel wounds to his abdomen at Armentieres, France, on the 18th July 1916, aged 20 years. He had been a Gunner with the 110 Howitzer battery. The Rev. P Baker provided details to the Red Cross enquiry on the death of William.

William Wilson Walker Red Cross Files RCDIG1054629--1

William Wilson Walker Red Cross Files RCDIG1054629–1

 

 

Headstone - photo source - Angus882 Great War Forum
Headstone – photo source – Angus882 Great War Forum

A headstone had been placed in memory of both Alan and William in St.James cemetery, perhaps arranged by the Theobald family connection……it is showing some wear from 100 years of standing quietly, however it still reads well enough………….

Honoured and Loving Memory

of

Alan Alexander Wilson Walker 2nd Lieutenant RFC of Sydney, Australia, accidentally killed whilst flying at Dover 20th March 1916, aged 22 years. Listed in the Australian Imperial Force  August 1914, took part in the first landing at Gallipoli 25th April 1915 and subsequently joined the RFC

per ardua ad astra

Also of William Douglas Wilson-Walker, Gunner, Australian Imperial Froce, brother of the above, who died of wounds at Armentieres, France, 18th July 1916, aged 20 years

“When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow these gave their today”

 per ardua ad astra  is latin for “Through adversity to the stars” or “Through struggle to the stars” and is the motto of the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces such as the RAAF, dating back to 1912 and used by the newly formed Royal Flying Corps.

The brothers were later memorialised back home in Australia, The Torch Bearer the magazine of  The Sydney Church of England Grammar School reported in its May 1921 edition that the chapel had laid tablets in memory of Alan Alexander Wilson Walker, and William Douglas Wilson Walker.

 

Letter from Edith 1920
Letter from Edith 1920

 

Edith and her family  would be shattered by the news, their hearts broken on two separate occasions within a four month period.

However Edith was quite a remarkable woman, and having been actively involved with the war effort at home, she was not going to let the tragic loss of both her son’s account for nothing or let the pain engulf her, she remained brave and stoic and in spite of the devastating setbacks to her family, she somehow found the strength to continue her extensive community work.

Husband Charles must have been a great support and was no doubt also a very influential partner.  Edith and Charles together were a force that knew no bounds and after the war both continued there efforts in serving the community.

Edith was a remarkable woman and her sons although having died in the great war would have been as equally proud of her, as she was of them.

Mrs Edith Gertrude Le Maistre Walker
Mrs Edith Gertrude Le Maistre Walker

When Edith died in December 1935 her obituary and the list of mourners who attended her funeral reads like the who’s who of 1935. Family members of the retailer David Jones, distinguished members from the Arnotts family of Arnotts biscuits fame, Judges, lawyers, politicians, high profile property developers and prominent businessman of the time, all attended her funeral.
There was no doubt as to her popularity and the high esteem in which she was remembered.

Charles Alfred Le Maistre Walker for all his extraordinary charitable and humanitarian work was awarded an MBE in 1916, a CBE in 1920 and the Medaille de Roi Albert from Belgium.

 

Story © Vance Kelly 2016

 

Sources:

AWM, NAA, NLA, sussexhistoryforum.co.uk, nationalarchives.gov.uk, The Torch Bearer – The magazine of – The Sydney Church of England Grammar School, Angus882 Great War Forum.

21st December 1915 – Remembering Lieut. Noel Biden

“A loyal and promising officer”

 

Lieut. Noel Ernest Biden
Lieut. Noel Ernest Biden

 

The small village of Portianos is on the west side of Mudros Bay, on the island of Lemnos, Greece. The Portianos Military Cemetery is on the outskirts of the village, on what is called Anzac Street.

It was established in August 1915 and continued military burials until August 1920. The cemetery now contains 347 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and five war graves of other nationalities. There are 50 Australians and 29 New Zealanders  identified and buried at this Military Cemetery.

One of these Australian’s is original 1st FCE Officer Lieut. Noel Ernest Biden – on the 21st December 1915 … it was his final resting place.

 

 

This the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC –  we commemorate this  loyal and promising officer.

Please read more of his story ………… click here.

 

 sources: GWGC, AWM NAA, NLA

8th December 1915 Remembering 56 Alexander Garden

Otago Peninsula Fallen Soldiers Memorial and Otago Harbour,New Zealand.

56 Spr. Alexander Garden

The tallest man in the company at 6ft 2″was 24 year old Alex Garden . He must have seemed like a giant to many of his fellow sapper’s.  He was certainly considered soldier material, the perfect image of a man the Australian military authorities wanted to show the rest of the world. Interestingly before Alex enlisted, his early attempt to join the Victorian police force was unsuccessful as they claimed his body weight was not in proportion to his height, and he was rejected as a possible recruit.

Alex was born in Dunedin New Zealand, his parents James and Jane Garden – nee Henderson. He enlisted stating he was a carpenter by trade working for the Henderson Family business in Anderson’s Bay, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

 

Alex arrived in Australia in 1910 and like most men coming to Australia, he was keen to seek out new opportunities. His early unsuccessful attempt at joining the police force must have been quite a disappointment, however once the call to war came Alex would follow a new path as a soldier with the AIF.

In the early months at Gallipoli Alexander suffered with a mild case of measles and later diarrhea but nothing serious enough to keep him from returning at full strength. He managed to see through the entire campaign almost to the end.

In the final weeks of November 1915 at Gallipoli, the weather conditions had taken an unexpected turn. Snow was falling, accompanied by heavy winds and the ground was frozen hard. The Turkish bombardments towards the end of the month became more intensive. It was just a few more weeks before the Gallipoli campaign would see its final chapter… evacuation.

On the 29th November the heavy shelling at Gallipoli had claimed up to 150 casualties and as many as 30 were killed and the following day 151 Ernest Murray noted in his diary , there was another day of heavy shelling and sapper 56 Alexander Garden was wounded.

Just two days later the general evacuation of Gallipoli commenced and at the same time Alex Garden had been transferred directly to no. 19 General Hospital in Alexandria with a shell wound to his thigh and a serious compound fracture to his femur, his leg later requiring amputation.

His general health would have been very poor, and suffering from a serious wound and an amputation, Alexander Garden unfortunately died on the 8th December 1915.

Just six days later on the 14th December the last of the originals still at Gallipoli –  “12 old boys left” –  by Ernest Murray’s  estimate, departed Anzac in the night and arrived at Lemnos the following day.

Alexander was later buried at Chatby Military Cemetery Egypt, in the same cemetery as fellow sapper 212 Charles “Chook” Carrington Fowle.

Chatby Military and War Memorial Alexandria Egypt
Chatby Military and War Memorial Alexandria Egypt

 

News of Alexander’s death was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Christmas Eve 1915. Alex’s mother somehow found the strength to write a letter to the war office on Chrstmas Day and fowarded the letter below sorrowing for her loss and her needy situation. She was not impressed with this war business , but remained dignified and courteous in her letter.

 

Otago Peninsula Fallen Soldiers Memorial and Otago Harbour,New Zealand.

Alexander’s name was included on the Otago Peninsula Fallen Soldiers Memorial pictured above.

The following press article by Ron Palenski describes this marvelous memorial, a truly organic looking monument.

“The memorial was designed by architect Edward Walter Walden and sculpted by Robert Hosie, the infantryman in greatcoat with rifle slung over his left shoulder stands about 3m tall atop a bluestone column of about 10m.Together, they are fixed on top of what used to be known as ”the Big Stone” but which shortly before the memorial unveiling in 1923………….The weather was not kind the day the memorial was unveiled. The Rev Andrew Cameron, one of the leading Presbyterian figures in New Zealand at the time, provided the religious accompaniment and the local member of Parliament, James Dickson, the secular.

But Cameron also delved into pre-Christian times when he quoted from The Iliad: ”The brave meets danger, and the coward flees, To die or conquer, proves a hero’s heart,  And knowing this, I know a soldier’s part.”

How many people were there for the unveiling was not recorded: it was ”a large concourse” in the Otago Daily Times and ”a very large gathering” in the Evening Star. During the formal ceremony the people, said to be from all over the city and the peninsula, sheltered as best they could in the lee of the great rock from the southerly that swept in over Tomahawk and Anderson’s Bay.

It is not difficult to imagine among them the mothers, the fathers, the widows, the brothers and sisters, those for whom this became the surrogate grave of the men they had farewelled with an emotional mix of pride and trepidation not long before”… Ron Palenski

Otago Peninsula Fallen Soldiers Memorial and Otago Harbour,New Zealand
The Unveiling Ceremony 1923

 

 

 

The Original Plaque on the Otago peninsula Memorial now replaced
Alexander Garden’s name on the Original Plaque on the Otago Peninsula Memorial now replaced with a new plaque in 2015.

 

REL41104.054

 

56 Alexander Garden – ANZAC –  Always Remembered

 

StoryCopyright©VanceKelly2015

Sources:

AWM, NLA, NAA – Article by Ron Palenski

Acknowledgments:

Anzac Snow Photo’s – Courtesy of the Bob Lundy Collection

Article by Ron Palenski

 

 

 

“The place where they grow men,”

 

Croix de Guerre - Front
Croix de Guerre – Front

 

This impressive looking medal is the Croix de Guerre, or sometimes known as the Belgian “War Cross”. It is the military decoration of the Kingdom of Belgium established by royal decree in 1915. It is primarily awarded for bravery or other military virtue on the battlefield. This splendid decoration was awarded to original sapper 121 Percy Talbot Griggs, a young plumber from the remote country town of Narandera, NSW Australia.

121 Percy “Talbot” or ” Sprigger ” Griggs  the young plumber from the bush, was a special young man, and during the entire war he served his country and his mates with unwavering devotion and bravery.

The enthusiastic and often ‘Gungho’ 129 Phil Ayton shared tents and dug outs with Percy  or “Talbot”  or “Sprigger” as he was known. Phil Ayton wrote to Percy’s sister Agnes while on the hospital ship, wounded, and updated her on their situation at Gallipoli.

“I am writing at your brother’s wish. He is alright, it is not he that is sick, it is I.    I have been a “cobber” of Talbot’s since we enlisted in Sydney, and I have been ever since. Not a bad kid is ‘”Sprigger,” as we call him. We were in the same tent at Moore Park, also at Mena Camp, in fact we have always been together. During the past three weeks of action in Turkey, our dug-outs have been together……………………………………………”A few of our chaps have been wounded, but Sprigger reckons he has a good chance of seeing Narandera again. He skites a lot about Narandera……………………………..The place where they grow men,” ………………he says”

He says you must not worry about him if you do not get any letters. That is why he asked me to write. He hasn’t the time or the chance on shore, and has no paper nor envelopes. As I had to come on board here, he asked me to write and tell you the news. If he gets snuffed out the papers will tell you, but he will get through all right. “

This would have been a very welcome and timely letter for the concerned family, although the full letter may have given them some cause for concern, Phil Ayton was forever the optimist and always full of enthusiam, he expressed how he and Talbot had no desire to return home, they were keen to stay on and clean up the Turks and then move on and help finish off the Germans, only to return when the job was complete.

 

Both of these great Australians stories are now on their own pages……………………….. links below.

121 Percy Talbot Griggs –  M.M  and Croix de Guere

129 Philip Owen Ayton