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

Remembering 208 Walter Gilchrist M.C MID – 3rd May 1917

Capt Walter Gilchrist MC

Captain Walter Gilchrist was an original sapper with the 1st FCE.  On this day, in 1917, he was an officer in the 6th Field Coy. Engineers, and known to be a popular officer among his men.

Several witness accounts on this day state that he was in command of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd sections of the company at Noreuil. It was recorded that on the morning of the 3rd of May he volunteered to lead an infantry battalion across to the Hindenburg Line, Bullecourt, as all the battalion’s officers had been killed or wounded.

The official war historian Charles Bean tells us what happened next…………

“None … knew who their leader was, but for half an hour or more he would be seen, bareheaded, tunicless, in grey woollen cardigan, his curly hair ruffled with exertion, continually climbing out of the trench to throw bombs or to call to the men in the shell-holes, begging them to charge.” – Charles Bean

Major William Henry Ellwood M.C  24th Infantry Battalion wrote ” Capt. Gilchrist was the bravest man I have ever known”

Sapper 14540 Palmer…. stated he saw Walter fighting with his revolver without his hat or tunic out in the open, “All the odds were against him. Then I saw him hit by a shell and killed outright.”

Sapper 14945 W.Fairley  another witness to the events  stated  “he was a specially fine soldier who did not know what fear was. I have heard that if he had lived he probably have got the V.C.”

Captain Walter Gilchrist was killed in action in France on 3rd May 1917.

He will always be remembered.

Read More…………..

 

 

 

Remembering 124 Spr. Sidney Garrett – MID

 

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124 Spr. Sidney Garrett MID

Over 100 years ago this young man from Gladesville in Sydney, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces. He came from a large family with two older brothers and four sisters. His mother had passed away just 7 months prior to his enlistment.

Sidney felt it was his duty to respond to the call to war and he didn’t hesitate.

Sidney was a gallant first day lander and a member of the sapper team that heroically rowed ashore dodging heavy shrapnel fire all the way and constructed the barrel piers on landing day at Gallipoli.

Sidney Matthew Garrett died from his wounds on the 6th March 1917 , today he is honoured and remembered and his story is available to read…. click here

Remembering 204 Spr. Patrick Finn Walshe

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Sapper 204 Patrick Finn Walshe died from wounds on the 5th March 1917. Today he is honoured and remembered and his story is available to read….

A portrait of Patrick Finn Walshe does exist, however he is only named in a group photo.

Which one is Patrick, or the identity of the others  is not known at this stage, however they are all Engineers from the 1st Field Company.

This photo can be viewed  and is AWM copyright protected. The photo is from the Thuillier Collection of glass plate negatives taken by Louis and Antoinette Thuillier in Vignacourt, France during the period 1916 to 1918.

The image is available to view at the following link  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10550.219

Patrick Finn Walshe  ….link to his story 

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”

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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

250 Frederick Wicks – DCM

Fred Wicks

 

250 Frederick Wicks was four weeks shy of the minimum enlistment age of 19 and just to make sure he would not be rejected he had a letter from his father giving consent to enlist. Fred was a young carpenter born in “Jaspers Brush” Berry NSW and living with his father in Ryde NSW.
Frederick came from a large family of 6 sisters and 4 brothers – His mother Annie Eva Wicks ( nee Miller) had died only 6 months before he enlisted, she was 56.
His father Thomas was a carter for the Ryde council and was proud to have both his son’s Fred and George (Sid) join the AIF.

Fathers letter of consent
Fathers letter of consent

 

His letters to his sister Eva, show a young man seemingly unaffected by the dangers of daily life at Anzac Cove.

He was “still going strong” and later describing being wounded by shrapnel as nothing serious and souveniring the pieces removed from his back and shoulder after the operation…….  Such was the spirit of this young Anzac.

The following news article in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate , in August 1915 accompanied a picture of  250 Frederick Charles Wicks

SAPPER F. C. (FRED) WICKS.

This patriotic soldier is the youngest son of Mr. T. Wicks, of Glebe-street, Ryde, carter for the Ryde Council. He is 19 years of age and left with the Expeditionary Forces on December 22nd last. He is attached to the First Field Company of the Engineers.

Writing to his sister, Eva, from the Dardanelles on June 3rd, he says: —

“We had a pretty Warm reception on landing ashore at 4 a.m. on April 25th — bullets and shrapnel flying all round us. Have had three weeks here and still going strong.  I have met Russel Thornton, Syd Adams, and H. Craig on the field, and also J.Luckett.”

His next communication, also to his sister, was from Gallipoli Peninsula, and was dated the 10th of June.

“Just a few lines….to let you know I am still in the land of the living and enjoying the best of health. .  . . We had a pretty tough problem landing here on April. 25th, All troops were brought close to land on torpedo boats and then dumped into rowing craft. The enemy were not satisfied, with waiting for us to land but started  pegging into us in the torpedo boats.

After getting into the ‘ pleasure boats’ (but not for pleasure) we started out for land with shrapnel and bullets flying all round the boats, but the Turks are very bad shots. As soon as the boats hit bottom we had to jump out, waist deep, and for our lives for cover. All this was done before 4 o’clock in the morning. I put in the whole day dodging about and having a shot where opportunity offered. Many times during the day, whilst under the cover of a bush, the Turks had their machine guns firing all around (about 200 to 300 bullets per minute). The bullets from the machine guns were cutting the tops off the bushes and spreading them all over me. Shells were also flying in all directions. Tho warships were out from shore about six miles, and they were giving the Turks some ‘hurry up.’

“To hear the battleships firing is just like one continuous roar of thunder…………All hands have got dug outs in tho side of a hill and it is very funny, when a shell comes over to so the men duck for those shelters just like a lot of rabbits scurrying to their burrows. Thrice have I and my mate had narrow escapes from shells, which were literally landing all round us. – One landed at the foot and another at the head of our dug out, while a third plumped right inside the dug out and blow everything to pieces. We were lucky enough to be out working at the time and I have been laid up this week with a bad foot. We were working on a barge and I trod on a piece of timber with a spike in it, the spike penetrating the bottom of my foot. It will be right again in a few days. About a fortnight ago I witnessed the sinking of one of our battleships.” (Just here the censor had a go.)

The next letter Fred wrote was from Cairo; and was dated July 3rd.

“Dear Father, Sisters, and Brothers,………..,……… no doubt you will be surprised on noticing the above address, to find that I am back in Egypt again. I happened to be on the unlucky side on June 19 by getting wounded on the right shoulder with a bit a shrapnel. I happened to be out working in the open, near a black smith’s forge, which was kicking up a devil of a noise when all of a sudden a shell burst in front of me. Of course I had no time to duck for cover. All of a sudden some thing seemed to catch me on the shoulder and down I went like a log.

I was lucky enough to be near a hospital and so was soon attended to. The bullet entered the front of my right shoulder and went down my back as far as the top of my trousers. It missed the collar bone and lung and did no serious damage. I had it in my back for two days and then went under an operation when it was extracted. I have it in my pocket now and am likely to stick to it. I am still in the hospital and likely to remain here for another week or two before returning to the scene of operations. Nothing broken, but have still got the stiffness in the arm and chest. It is wearing away tip top. Excuse scribble as arm is stiff and I’m in hurry to catch mail. Fred.”

 Source: nla.news-article86098891

Frederick’s story is now on his own page………………………………Read More