175 BLACKWELL, Harry

 

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

 

175 Harry Blackwell

Harry Blackwell was born in Leicester England in 1887. His father, also his next of kin when he enlisted was Thomas Horton Blackwell and his mother was Ann Jane Blackwell.

The full circumstances are unknown, but it appears from newspaper articles that Harry was married and had a child prior to leaving England for Australia in 1911.

Harry a mechanical engineer, enlisted with the 1st Field Company Engineers on 19th August 1914 and was promoted to Lance Corporal 21 days after enlisting.

On the 18th October 1914  Harry embarked on the transport ship “Clan Macquordale” along with 13 other ranks and Major J.P McCall , together with 56 Horses.

CLAN MACCORQUODALE
“Clan Macquordale”

 

The Australian fleet arrived at Alexandria Egypt on the 5th December 1914 and 5 days later unloaded the horses and made camp at Mena at the foot of the Pyramids.

Harry a driver with the mounted section of the 1st FCE  was stationed at Mena camp Alexandria Egypt during the Gallipoli campaign.

Mena Camp tent lines - Australian Imperial Forces Egypt - AWM - A02741
Mena Camp tent lines – Australian Imperial Forces Egypt – AWM – A02741

Harry was described as well-nourished and a strong man but his heart condition prevented him from continuing his service beyond Mena camp at Alexandria.

While lifting a heavy wagon Harry aggravated his disability and with an enlarged heart and a diagnosis of heart disease he was considered unfit for further military service.

AWM PB1021 Thermistocles

On the 15th August he sailed from the Suez on the HMAT  A32 ‘Thermistocles’ and disembarked at Melbourne on the   9th Sept 1915.

Harry was a resident of Hornsby, New South Wales before enlisting and received a warm reception from the community and residents on his return to the district. He later established a poultry farm in the area, but shortly after had sold up and was suddenly considered a ‘missing person’.

In 1918 the Tasmanian and the NSW Police were distributing notices looking for Harry. His wife, Mrs P.G Blackwell, located in Paris, Ontario Canada had put out a nationwide search which revealed a strikingly accurate description of Harry.

As the Police gazette’s indicated, Harry may have gone missing and was travelling under an assumed name.

Harry was aware of his unreliable health and may have been suffering poor health even before the war. His condition may have worsened rapidly after returning to Australia and determined his path.

We may never discover what happened to Harry Blackwell after 1918, but from piecing together what little information is available it is likely that he has a living descendant and hopefully there was a happy ending somewhere for his family.

1918 tasmania news Wife searching for Harry

 

Sources:

AWM,NLA, NAA

 

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