Port Elizabeth of Yore: Echoes of a Far off War

Walking on a duckboard track

June 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  The Serbian assassin, Gavrilo Princip, fired the first shot in what was to become a horrific four-year long bloodbath. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of a peaceful settler town on the coast of Algoa Bay, that shot would ultimately reverberate within its military barracks, its churches and its homes.

One hundred years after the start of the Great War, none of the participants remains alive, Harry Patch being the last to pass away. Nevertheless, we are periodically reminded of the valiant but ultimately futile exercise by the aging relics, fading photographs, scarred landscapes being reclaimed by nature, and memorials and graveyards across the globe.  

This blog is in memory of a few of those sons, fathers, brothers and friends from Port Elizabeth who paid the ultimate price for that assassin’s bullet.

Main picture: Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade walk on a duckboard track laid across a muddy, shattered battlefield in Chateau Wood, near Hooge, Belgium, on October 29, 1917. This was during the Battle of Passchendaele, fought by British forces and their allies against Germany for control of territory near Ypres, Belgium. (James Francis Hurley/State Library of New South Wales)

The South Africa forces – mainly English speaking – would be deployed by King George V on various battlefronts. Most would escape the slaughter of Delville Wood during the Somme Offensive for the simple reason that they were deployed in the Tanganyikan bush chasing the elusive German general, Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck until the cessation of hostilities on 11th November 1918. On the other hand, some were used on Kings Service to invade German South West Africa as it was then called.

paul-emil-von-lettow-vorbeck

Among those who were posted to German East Africa, was my grandfather, Harry William McCleland. Even though he outlasted the war, he never survived its effects and died 8 years later from black water fever.

My grandfather, Harry William McCleland getting married to Elizabeth Daisy McCleland

My grandfather, Harry William McCleland of the left getting married to Elizabeth Daisy McCleland

1915 – The first fatalities

Apparently, Private George James Dempster was one of the first two Port Elizabeth lads who fell in France. At the call to arms, George who still stayed with his parents at 205 Walmer Road, signed up for service. His initial induction into war was the German South West African campaign.

Thereafter George proceeded to England where he enlisted with the 1st London Scottish. After being posted to France with the Regiment in November 1915, George was killed two weeks later on 1st December 1915.

Private G.J. Dempster

Private G.J. Dempster

The second of many would be 2nd Lt. St. John Matthews who was killed on Friday 3rd December 1915 in France.

2nd Lt St. John Matthews

2nd Lt St. John Matthews

1916 – Salaita Hill in German East Africa

Private Percy Frederick Messina, the son of Rosario Messina, was one of the South Africans assigned to the campaign in German East Africa. Archdeacon Wirgman of St Mary’s Church would perchance see Percy on the morning of his departure for East Africa outside the Castle Office in Jetty Street. Wirgman was to record that “there was that inexpressible something about the lad suggesting a last look upon scenes [that] he would see no more.”

The South African forces were deployed against the German forces at Salaita Hill.

Private P.F. Messina

Private P.F. Messina

The Battle of Salaita Hill was the first large-scale engagement of the East African Campaign of the First World War to involve British, Indian, Rhodesian and South African troops. The battle took place on February 12, 1916, as part of the three-pronged offensive into German East Africa launched by General Jan Smuts, who had been given overall command of the Allied forces in the region.

Salaita was a strategic lookout post close to the border town of Taveta, in present-day Kenya. Its proximity to the border of German East Africa, and the belief that it was defended by only a small detachment of just 300 men without artillery made it an attractive initial objective for Smuts’ offensive.

Battle of Salaita Hill

Battle of Salaita Hill

The advance into German East Africa was conducted by the 2nd South African Division, commanded by Brigadier General Wilfred Malleson. Malleson had little combat experience, having served on the staff of British Field Marshal Kitchener and as part of the British military mission to Afghanistan prior to the outbreak of the First World War.

Brigadier General Wilfrid Malleson

Brigadier General Wilfrid Malleson

Brigadier General Beves’ 2nd South African Infantry Brigade and the First East African Brigade were chosen to attack Salaita. Including an attached Indian artillery brigade, the force totalled 6,000 men. Despite British intelligence suggesting the contrary, however, Salaita was heavily defended by approximately 1,300 men under local commander Major Georg Kraut. Furthermore, unknown to Malleson, there were six Schutztruppe field companies—numbering roughly 1,000 men—in the surrounding area.

Schutztruppe askaris undergoing target practice

Schutztruppe askaris undergoing target practice

The Allied assault began on the morning of February 12 with a preliminary bombardment of the German positions by 4-inch guns salvaged from the sunken cruiser HMS Pegasus. However, due to faulty intelligence, the barrage targeted German secondary trenches at the summit of Salaita Hill instead of the front line, which was further down the slope. It therefore alerted the defenders to the impending attack without disrupting their ability to oppose it. After two hours into the assault, when Malleson’s men were 2,000 metres from Salaita, German artillery opened fire.

Beves deployed his brigade with the 7th South African Infantry Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Freeth) leading the assault, with the 5th (Lt. Col. the Honourable J. J. Byron) and 6th (Lt. Col. G. M. J. Molyneux) Regiments holding the left and right flanks respectively. The men deployed in a loose skirmish formation. The South African regiments succeeded in smashing through the German line, but were stopped and then forced to withdraw after suffering casualties from machine guns. As they retreated to their starting positions, they were out-flanked and attacked by a German relief column led by Hauptmann (Captain) Schultz from the nearby town of Taveta. Following this encounter, the force moved further north to Serengeti, having suffered 172 casualties, 138 of them South African.

german-post-card

At Roll Call on the 12th February, after a hurried every-man-for-himself retreat off Salaita Hill, Percy Frederick Messina was listed as “missing.” Somewhere at the foot of that fatal hill scored with rough escarpments, still lies the body of Percy, as it was never recovered.

1916 – Deaths during the Battle of the Somme

Apart from the action by the 1st South African Infantry Brigade, which was in action against the Germans at Delville Wood from the 15th July to the 19th July, many South Africans had joined various other British units. As such, many of their deaths were recorded as British rather than as South African.

One such person was Rifleman George Smith Mitchell who had left Port Elizabeth to join the British Army. En route, he visited his mother’s old home in County Cavan, Ireland. From there, he joined the Royal Irish Rifles and qualified as a sharp-shooter. George had always been a keen sportsman.

Rifleman G.S. Mitchell

Rifleman G.S. Mitchell

His battalion was drafted to France, where George’s unit would form part of the Somme Summer Offensive commencing on the 1st July 2016. As such, the artillery commenced firing on the 24th June but the infantry attack only commenced on the 1st July. It was during a battle that raged between Miramont & Albert that a wounded George must have been captured.

From THE DAILY SKETCH No 1930, Monday May 17, 1915

From THE DAILY SKETCH No 1930, Monday May 17, 1915

A post card arrived not long afterwards addressed to his mother who stayed at Cavan Lodge, Upper Valley Road. It was from a Lutheran pastor conveying the following message, “7.7.1916. In dying your son asked me to send you[a] message and his love. He prayed with me heartily. I have just buried his body 1 km south-east of Miramont, near Albert.

Dr R. Lempp, German Chaplain.”

Another Port Elizabeth youth by the name of Private Harold Wright was also to fall on the Somme but in his case, it was with the South African Infantry at Delville Wood on the 18th July 1916. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Wright of Port Elizabeth.

Private Harold Wright

Private Harold Wright

Harold Wright had been educated at the Grey Institute in Belmont Terrace and was per Wirgman “a bright and cheerful lad, and was giving promise of a successful commercial career when he responded without hesitation to his country’s call to arms.”

The Butte de Warlencourt is an ancient burial mound off the AlbertBapaume road. During the First World War, the Germans constructed deep dugouts throughout the butte and surrounded it by several belts of barbed wire, making it a formidable defensive position in advance of Gallwitz Riegel (the Gird Trenches). After the Battle of Flers–Courcelette, the view from the butte dominated the new British front line and was used by the Germans for artillery  observation.

Fortified with barbed wire, and defended by machine guns and mortar, the Butte de Wallencourt

Fortified with barbed wire, and defended by machine guns and mortar, the Butte de Wallencourt

During the Battle of Le Transloy (1–20 October 1916), part of the Battle of the Somme, the Butte de Warlencourt was the subject of several attacks by the British Fourth Army, which were costly failures.

It was during the attack on Butte de Warlencourt on the 18th October that Corporal Charles James Walton, together with the rest of his platoon, all fell near the Butte itself. After a night of confusion, Walton was missing presumed dead. Wirgman records that “[Walton who] had been a chorister of St. Mary’s, was well-known in the City and province as a keen sportsman, and was secretary of the Eastern Province Swimming Association and the Royal Life Saving Association. A bright disposition endeared him to a large circle of kindred spirits and personal friends.” 

Corporal C.J. Walton

Corporal C.J. Walton

Corporal Walton was not the only lad from Port Elizabeth to fall in this battle. Private Nicholas Shields, son of Mrs Carpenter of 11 Pearson Street, was also killed at Wallencourt. He fell on 26th August 1916. He served as a Private – Number 4276 – in the First South African Infantry.

Private N. Shields

Private N. Shields

In 1990, the site was purchased for preservation by the Western Front Association.

Drawing of Butte de Warlencourt

Drawing of Butte de Warlencourt

1916 – German East Africa

Like my grandfather, Sergeant Adam Ramsay, would contract an unspecified fever during August 1916. Adam was the brother of Mrs. James Brown of 24 Chapel Street. A fine, tall manly fellow, he was on the staff of Messrs Marshall & Co, and with several companions marched to war.

Sergeant A Ramsay

Sergeant A Ramsay

According to Wirgman, “Ramsay contracted fever, like a good many others, and was in a weak condition when his guns went forward. Contrary to the advice of other members of the gun’s crew, he was determined to march on, and, passing through a drift, got a thorough wetting. Pneumonia supervened, which ended the career of this fine soldier.

 The prospect of the loneliness and inactivity of a field hospital in a great wild, wide-spreading country must have been more than irksome to a strong nature. It is not for us, therefore, to blame his unwisdom, but rather to admire and extol his bravery.

A South African sentry stands guard at a crossroads in front of a hut decorated in honour of the French Bastille Day, in the Vaux-sur-Somme, area, 14 July 1916.

A South African sentry stands guard at a crossroads in front of a hut decorated in honour of the French Bastille Day, in the Vaux-sur-Somme, area, 14 July 1916.

 

1917: The slaughter in France continues

Sergeant Major Henry Frederick Basford of 19 Cuyler Crescent, Port Elizabeth was the son of John Basford & the husband of Edith Mary Basford

Basford was an enthusiastic volunteer and joined the local Regiment, Prince Alfred’s Guards in which he held the rank of Company Sergeant Major. He proved to be a smart and popular non-commissioned officer, and fought with the Regiment during the Boer and during the German South West African campaign.

sergeant-major-h-f-basford

Sergeant Major H.F. Basford

Basford was instinctively a soldier to whom family ties, though dear, promptly were superseded when there was a call to arms. Thus, the Great War found him amongst the ardent spirits in the South African Infantry, and though a middle aged man, he lacked nothing of the energy and efficiency of his younger days.

Basford had already survived many hot encounters unscathed, but, as with not a few men in the Great War, held a premonition of impending death

He was killed in action on the 12th April 1917 in the improvised and disastrous attack of the 9th (Scottish) Division on the German positions in the East of Fampoux. The 1st SAI lost 2 officers and 203 men. He now lies in Grave II.B.4.

naval-canon

2nd Lt Raphael Tardugno was, like his father, a talented instrumental musician being proficient on several wind and stringed instruments. Ray – Raphael’s nickname – before the war was at the time resident in Cape Town where he joined the Naval Volunteers Cadet Corps.

In 1915, he proceeded to England to join the fight against the Germans. En route by ship, he found that his friend, 2nd Lieutenant Harold P. Almon, was also on the same ship.   

On reaching England, he wrote to the Precentor at St Mary’s in Port Elizabeth to draft a recommendation for a commission, and while waiting a reply, went into training with the Artist’s Rifle Corp.

2nd Lt R. Tardugno

2nd Lt R. Tardugno

Owing to an outbreak of measles, this Corps was transferred to France and when the recommendation arrived, the fact that the Corps was already in France, prevented it from being used. Mr CAL Irvine of the War Office was addressed to the Precentor expressing regret that since Tradugno had already departed from England that it was too late to act on his behalf.

Even without this recommendation, Ray was able to obtain this commission . It would be to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. One of the duties that he would have to perform would be to form part of the Royal Guard when the monarch, King George, visited the British Lines.

Later Ray entered the Air Service as an observer. As such he was attached to the 57th Squadron RFC [Royal Flying Corps] of the 17th Royal Welsh Regiment.

DH4

DH4

On the eve of his death, the 6th July 1917, he appears to have had a presentiment of impending tragedy for he put all his papers in order and placed his home address where it could easily be found. In setting forth on what proved to be his final flight, he remarked to a friend, “I wish [that] I was not going up today.” As the plane left the aerodrome, it is said to have struck a pole and damaged a rudder. With the machine out of control, it performed a few eccentric evolutions ending a nose  and crash, killing both occupants.

In reviewing the RFC records for WW1, two divergent explanations were provided for this crash. Where they are congruent is in the fact that the aircraft was a DH4 registration number A7415, and the pilot was a 2nd Lieutenant Green. However in the one record the cause of the accident  is given as “Prop hit ground sideslipped nosedived and caught fire on t/o for photo recce” whereas in the other it is recorded as “Flying accident on practice flight.”

DH4

DH4

Interestingly, Tardugno’s Military Record also records another accident – non-fatal – on this occasion on the 8th June 1917 also in a DH4 but with a registration number of A7422 with the pilot also being 2nd Lt JHS Green where the plane was “wrecked on landing from practice.” Unfortunately it does not record whether either officer was injured in this crash.

Thus ended the life of a bright and clever lad at the age of 23, and only son of the Tardugno’s of Port Elizabeth.

In 1920 when the Grave’s Commission was engaged in erecting permanent memorials in the cemeteries in France, the wooden cross placed over Ray’s grave by his Comrades at the time of his death and burial, was kindly sent to the Rector of St Mary’s who was in London at the time where it was placed in the porch of the church.

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary’s Church

Later that same month, on the 21st July 1917, Ray’s friend, Harold Pryor Almond, a 2nd Lt in the Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action at Ypres.

2nd LT H.P. Almon

2nd Lieuenant H.P. Almon

Almon was returning from a reconnaissance fraught with real danger and after considerable delay, which caused his platoon much anxiety, for he was a popular officer, he had almost reached the trench unscathed when a shell burst near him with fatal results.

Prior to enlisting, Harold had been a clerk in the National Bank in Port Elizabeth. Decidedly clever, unlike many other young clerks he was studious and keen in pursuit of knowledge to such an extent that he was known to spend his two weeks annual leave in the splendid Main Library in Main Street.

Private Harry Hanson was the next Port Elizabeth youth to fall in battle. In his case, it was at Kilwa in East Africa on 3rd September 1917. He was the son of well-known and respected Light House Keeper at Cape Recife.

Harry was a quiet and studious boy and had a natural aptitude for signing second treble. He entered public service and was transferred to Johannesburg.

Private H. Hanson

Private H. Hanson

Before joining up, he visited Port Elizabeth for one last time to say goodbye to everybody. Neither in constitution nor in disposition was Harry meant for hardship and war. But like many others of his era, he never flinched from his duty.

Map of Kilwa in German East Africa

Map of Kilwa in German East Africa

2nd Lt Edward Kenneth Huntly was born on 18th June 1894 and was educated in the UK. After completing his schooling he returned to South Africa and commenced work at the firm of Dunell, Ebden & Co in Port Elizabeth.

He left for Cape Town in 1914 with the Prince Alfred Guards where he became an instructor on machine guns. During the latter part of 1915, he left for England at his own expense where he secured a commission in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Early in 1916, while he was on active service in France he received a wound in his foot which rendered him unfit for service.

Due to his inability to perform war service, he was based an Southsea training troops and was also sent to France on secret service whatever that implied.

2nd Lieutenant E.K. Huntly

2nd Lieutenant E.K. Huntly

 

During 1917 he was placed on active service again.

In the dawn of 20th September 1917, a day of bitter fighting, Huntly’s company was ordered  out to subdue a concrete pillbox at all costs. His Major, falling early in the fray, Huntly took charge and rallied the men with the words, “Follow me, boys,” whereupon he was shot dead.

Edward was a clever lad with manners begotten of an earlier age. An officer and a gentleman is a title treasured in the British Army. Such was Huntly, who in the fierce struggles of 1917 in France “gave up the years to be” as Phillip Gibbs so eloquently stated it

2nd Lieutenant Edward Kenneth H. Huntly

2nd Lieutenant Edward Kenneth H. Huntly

His body was buried near Langemarck but subsequently re-interred in the Poel Capelle British Cemetery, plot 44, Row F, Grave 2.

Unlike his fellow soldiers, Private Ernest C Batten was no longer the flower of youth but more the effete middle aged man with no pugilistic bones in his body. Instead he was a talented musician of wide experience, well-travelled  and a member of the Grand Theatre orchestra in Port Elizabeth.

Though past his prime at the time, Batten was moved by an impulse to leave the amusement house for the sterner life of a soldier.

Private Ernest Batten

Private Ernest Batten

He went into training at Potchefstroom. From there he sailed up the eastern African seaboard to join the East Africa campaign. He withstood the hardships with the youngest and fittest. Nevertheless the fleeting skirmishes of the guerrilla type warfare did not satisfy his yearning for the “real big business” as he expressed it.

To fulfil his wishes, he joined the ranks of the South African Scottish and was shipped off to France. There he faced hat he would term, “the full orchestra of military music.” During action on the 21st September 1917 Batten would fall, never to hear his beloved music or the Last Post ever again.

Trenches epitomised WW1

Trenches epitomised WW1

Private Edwin George Duberly

Killed in Action 28/10/1918

Private, 1st Battalion, Port Elizabeth Town Guard
Trooper, Marshall’s Horse
Trooper, South African Light Horse – Anglo Boer War
Trooper, Brand’s Free State Rifles and
Private, 1st South African Infantry

military-record-of-private-e-duberly

– Queens South Africa Medal with clasps Cape Colony, Orange Free State and South Africa 1901 to 2554 Tpr. E.G. Duberty (sic), S.A. Light Horse
– 1914/15 Star to Pte. E.G. Duberly, Brands F.S.R.
– British War Medal to Pte. E.G. Duberly, 1st S.A.I.
– Victory Medal to Pte. E.G. Duberly, 1st S.A.I.

Medals of Edwin Duberly

Medals of Edwin Duberly

Edwin Duberly was born in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape on 20 February 1883 the son of a Carpenter, Edward George Duberly and his wife Ellen Catherine. Duberly senior was, in later life to become one of the longest serving members of the Port Elizabeth Town Guard with the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

By the time Duberly had finished his schooling and was nearing the end of his teenage years the Anglo Boer War was raging. Joining his father in the ranks of the 1st Battalion of the Port Elizabeth Town Guard in 1900 at the age of almost 18 he was assigned no. 175. Deployed primarily on escort duties to those working on the Van Staaden’s Dam project, he probably found the daily routine to be boring and lost no time after three months, when the opportunity arose, to enlist with Marshall’s Horse, a locally raised unit, where he was assigned no. 11 and the rank of Private. Marshall’s Horse saw a great deal of fighting especially in the Orange Free State region.

Private E. Duberly

Private E. Duberly

Quite what decided him to seek greener pastures is unknown but on 29 May 1901 he completed the Attestation Papers to join the South African Light Horse for a period of six months. The details he provided on this application was that he was a Carpenter by trade (following in his father’s footsteps) and that he lived in Walmer, Port Elizabeth. Assigned no. 2554 he was to spend a total of 207 days with the S.A.L.H. before taking his discharge, time-expired, on 14 December 1901. His Character rating being described as “Very Good” he departed with the princely sum of £44. 19.10 burning a hole in his pocket and was to take no further part in the war. The S.A.L.H. certainly in the time since Duberly joined them; were very active in the Orange Free State and were involved in many skirmishes with the Boers taking a number of prisoners and inflicting losses on the enemy.

For his efforts he was awarded the Queens Medal with clasps to the Cape Colony and the Orange Free State, the theatres of the war where he had been operational.

Most of these men would be dead within a few days

Most of these men would be dead within a few days

The war over Duberly returned to his civilian pursuits and wasn’t heard from again until, some 13 years later the Great War erupted onto the world stage drawing South Africa into its suffocating embrace. South Africa’s initial involvement in the war was confined to negating the German threat in what was then German South West Africa but first there was the matter of suppressing by force, the internal rebellion which had broken out in the two previously Boer Republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Burghers opposed to South Africa’s participation in the conflict on the side of the Empire, so soon after they had been at the throats of the very men they were now supposed to fight alongside, led to them taking up arms, an act that was quickly and effectively suppressed by Botha and Smuts. This was necessary before any meaningful role could be played in the war.

duberley_e-g

Duberly, having joined Brand’s Free State Rifles with no. 1473, was part of the 4th Regiment of the 5th Mounted Brigade and embarked for German South West Africa aboard the S.S. “Gaika” on 27 March 1915 for the front. The war at this stage was nearing its conclusion with the South African forces driving the Germans ever northwards until, on 9 July 1915 they surrendered at Otavi. The 5th Mounted Brigade had played a pivotal role in bringing about the German defeat and, mission accomplished, returned home. Duberly had suffered a bout of Tuberculosis and had been admitted to the hospital at Swakopmund from 24 until 30 April 1915 before being sent to a Rest Camp to recuperate. For his efforts he was awarded the 1914/15 Star which was despatched to him on 30 September 1930.

German soldiers in German South West Africa

German soldiers in German South West Africa

The decision facing South African volunteers was then threefold – they could elect to return home and take no further part in the war or they could go east – to German East Africa where Smuts was facing off against Von Lettow Vorbeck and his Askaris or they could enlist with one of the four South African Infantry Battalions being raised for service on the Western Front. Duberly chose the latter and, after a two year hiatus at home, completed the Attestation Forms at Port Elizabeth on 1 March 1918 to join the ranks of the 1st (Cape) South African Infantry Brigade. On this occasion his names were recorded as “Edward George” and not “Edwin George” – a confusion which seems to have followed him throughout his life.

Now aged 35 he confirmed that he was married to a Hester Johanna Duberly (born Campbell) and that he was resident at 5 Hunt Street, Port Elizabeth. He was still a Carpenter by trade and had no children as yet. Mention was also made of 84 days service in German South West Africa with the 5th Mounted Brigade. Physically he was 5 feet 5 inches in height and weighed 128 pounds with a fair complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. By way of distinguishing marks about his person he had a coat of Arms tattooed on his right forearm. Having been passed as Fit for the Army he was enrolled as a Private with no. 18270.

captured-guns-at-gibeon-german-south-west-africa-1915

The great day arrived and he embarked at Cape Town docks aboard the H.M.T. “Durham Castle” for England on 2 May 1918. He wasn’t to know that, in a few shorts months he would be dead and the war over a few weeks thereafter. Disembarking at Tilbury Docks on 5 June 1918 he joined the Reserve Brigade at Woking and was posted to “E” Company of the 2nd Reserve Battalion the following day. Now in England he had to wait for the draft to cross the Channel and was granted leave in both June and August while he waited.

On 25 August 1918 he embarked at Southampton and, along with “E” Company was shipped to France to form part of the British Expeditionary Force joining his Regiment in the Field on 29 August. It wasn’t long before he was in the thick of things and, on 8 October 1918 was Wounded in the Field but remained on duty. At this point in the war the South African Brigade had moved into the Siegfried lines at Bony and by 3.30 a.m. on the 8th of October had occupied its battle position. Supported by Whippet tanks the 2nd Regiment made its objective by 7 o’ clock taking 500 prisoners. The 3-4 mile advance that the Allies had made had not come cheaply, the 1st Regiment (Duberly’s) had been caught in a barrage and suffered 23 casualties, and the 4th Regiment faced heavy machine gun fire and suffered 49 deaths and 194 wounded.

Sadly Duberly’s wound was to be the precursor to the main event, just ten days later, on 18 October 1918 (three weeks before the war was to end) Edwin George Duberly was Killed in Action.

Mark A Whippet Tank

Mark A Whippet Tank

How did it happen? Heavy fighting had taken place all day with the Brigade sustaining many casualties and by the end of the day the town of Le Cateau had been won but not the vital ridge to the east of the town. All night enemy bombing patrols were busy together with unceasing artillery and machine gun fire. The day would go down in the annals of the Brigade along with their advance at Third Ypres as a brilliant piece of offensive warfare. The final objective of the Brigade was established around 4.30 a.m. on the morning of the 19th for Duberly it was a day too late.

Army Form B 104 121, dated 28 January 1919 was despatched to his next of kin. It read as follows,

I beg to inform you that an official report has now been received that the late soldier has been buried in an isolated grave 4 ½ miles S.W. of Le Cateau

So ended the life of Edwin George Duberly with the posthumous award of the British War and Victory Medals. On the home front his 27 year old wife went on without him no doubt supported by his grieving 73 year old mother, both of whom lived in Port Elizabeth. Interestingly perhaps his occupation on his death certificate was at variance with that stated on his Attestation forms – he was stated to be a Fireman on the Rhodesian Railways but was a Carpenter until his death.

Louis Botha makes a small alteration to the face of Africa.

Louis Botha makes a small alteration to the face of Africa.

 

Private William Counsell HODGES, son of William John HODGES and Jane (nee Wright). was a taxidermist at Port Elizabeth Museum. When his grandfather, Henry WRIGHT, a painter by trade, died his occupation was given as retired secretary at the Port Elizabeth Museum.
Answering the country’s call to arms, he joined the Army Medical Corps in East Africa, where his fidelity to duty and skill in nursing earned him the affection of sick men. William contracted enteric fever which cost him his life.

When Henry WRIGHT died the Herald [newspaper] said “his knowledge & methodical manner of working laid the foundation of the highly interesting collection in this institution today”. He was interested in astronomy – he compiled the tide tables used by the paper (the “Herald”) – & was on the Boards of the Hospital and the Grey Institute.

According to CWGC, Debt of Honour Register, it has the following to say about William.

Private W.C. Hodges

Private W.C. Hodges

DEBT OF HONOUR REGISTER
In Memory of WILLIAM COUNSELL HODGES
Private 1400
“C” Sect. 3rd South African Field Amb., South African Medical Corps
who died on Saturday 27 October 1917. Age 29.
Additional Information:
Son of William John and Jane HODGES, of Port Elizabeth; husband of Alice
C.F. HODGES [nee TONKS] of “Torridge”, 11th Avenue, Walmer, Port Elizabeth.
A taxidermist at Port Elizabeth Museum.
Cemetery: MOROGORO CEMETERY, Tanzania
Grave or reference: VIII. B. 11.

Location:
Morogoro is situated 195 kilometres west of Dar-Es-Salaam. At the large roundabout on the main road from Dar-Es-Salaam take the turning for the town centre. Follow this road straight through the town and come out the other side on a narrow road lined with mango trees. About 1km from the centre of town, turn right onto a rough track [this is marked by a CWCG direction sign]. After approximately 100 metres, bear left at the fork [also signposted] and the cemetery is about 50 metres along the track on your right, set back amongst trees.

Kekio Road Cemetry near Kisaki

Kekio Road Cemetry near Kisaki

Historical information:
During the First World War, Morogoro was occupied by Commonwealth forces on the 26 August 1916 and the German civil cemetery was taken over for Commonwealth war burials. Between the beginning of September 1916 and January 1919, 177 burials were carried out by the five medical units which were posted in the town and which were, at the outset, assisted by German
medical personnel and civilians. After the Armstice, 169 graves were brought in from other burial grounds, including the following: BUKU BUKU [or DINA BUKU] GRAVES, between Morogoro and the Mwuha river. The place as occupied in September 1916 and a medical unit was posted there. DAKAWA
[WAMI RIVER], between Morogoro and Handeni. DUTHUMI MILITARY CEMETERY, between Morogoro and the Rufiji. The place was captured in September 1916.
KIKEO ROAD CEMETERY, near Kisaki. RUFIJI RIVER CEMETERY, on the Mikese-Duthumi road. The place was occupied in September 1916. There are now 381 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery.

Captain E.A. Cochrane received his education at the Grey Institute and was a credit to his school, both in the classroom and in athletics. In spite of an extensive search, I have not been able to ascertain what the initials E.A. stand for.

 

The Mining Management of Johannesburg conceived a plan of employing a body of educated and responsible young men to learn and work at the practical side of gold mining, Cochrane volunteered.

Cochrane together with eighty others, migrated to the Rand. Although the scheme ultimately failed in its purpose, the knowledge and experience gained by these young men was extremely useful.

 

Cochrane’s real ambition was farming. It was a red letter day in his life when he joined B.K. Mayo, who had recently settled on the farm  “Sunnyside”, Thornhill. Shortly afterwards, Mr Mayo travelled to England and Holland in order to secure some cattle for the farm.

Captain E.A. Cochrane

Captain E.A. Cochrane

On Mayo’s return, Cochrane joined the Southern Rifles which embarked on the South West African campaign. Together with his friend, St John Matthews, they both journeyed to England where they acquired commissions in the 4th Staffs. I assume that this refers to the 4th Staffordshire Regiment. Matthews was drafted to France first and was killed shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile Cochrane was detained in England for over a year training and instructing troops. He was transferred to France and promoted to Captain for conspicuous service & as he had proved to be a capable officer. Like many other of South Africa’s finest young men, he was killed in action. On 4th August 1918, he succumbed to his wounds.

On 28th August 1918, Sergeant John F.D. Hall was killed in act ion in France.

Sergeant J.F.D. Hall

Sergeant J.F.D. Hall

Private William Charles Richardson as the eldest son, was forced to support a widowed mother and younger siblings. Even though his lungs were weak, he was passed fit for service by the military doctor. He joined the 1st South African Infantry in 1915 & was posted to France.

Private W.C. Richardson

Private W.C. Richardson

The rigor of a northern climate with its water-sodden trenches and gas poisoning was not suitable for such a frail lad. After serving for eleven months under these conditions, he was discharged as medically unfit on the 11th August 1916. As the tender care in English hospitals and convalescent homes failed to restore his health, he was shipped back to Port Elizabeth where he lingered on for a while. However, he finally passed away at a local hospital on the 29th August 1918.

 

Sons of Port Elizabeth who fell in WW1:

Name Date Location
Pte George James Dempster 1st December 1915 France
2nd Lt. St. John Matthews 3rd December 1915 France
Pte Percy Frederick Messina 12th February 1916 Salaita Hill, Tanganyika
Rifleman George Smith Mitchell 7th July 1916 Somme Campaign-between Miramont & Albert
Crp Charles James Walton 18th October 1916 Somme Campaign-Butte de Warlencourt
Pte. Harold Wright 18th July 2016 Somme Campaign-Delville Wood
Sgt Adam Ramsay August 1916 Tanganyika
Pte Nicholas Shields 26th August 1916 Somme Campaign-Butte de Warlencourt
Sergeant Major Henry Frederick Basford 12th April 1917 France – East of Fampoux
2nd Lt Raphael Tardugno 7th July 1917 Aircrash in France
2nd Lt Harold Pryor Almond 21st July 1917 Ypres in France
Pte Harry Hanson 3rd September 1917 Kilwa, East Africa
2nd Lt Edward Kenneth Huntly 20th Sept 1917 France
Pte Ernest C Batten 21st Sept 1917 France
Private Edwin George Duberly 18th Oct 1917 France
Pvt William Counsell Hodges 27th Oct 1917 Musha Summit, East Africa
Capt E.A. Cochrane 4th August 1918 France
Sgt John F.D. Hall 28th August 1918 France
Pte William Charles Richardson 29th August 1919 Port Elizabeth while recuperating

 

Source:

The Collegiate Church of Parish of St. Mary Port Elizabeth”  by Archdeacon Wirgman & Canon Cuthbert Edward Mayo (1925, Longman Green & Co, London)

 

Related blogs:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street in the Tram Era

 

Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House

Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Customs House

 

The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968

The Great Flood in Port Elizabeth on 1st September 1968

 

A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922

A Sunday Drive to Schoenmakerskop in 1922

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Horse Drawn Trams

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Trinder Square

 

The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium

The Sad Demise of the Boet Erasmus Stadium

 

Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth:

Interesting Old Buildings in Central Port Elizabeth

 

The Shameful Destruction of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915:  

The Shameful Torching of Port Elizabeth’s German Club in 1915

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Cora Terrace

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Grand Hotel

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Whaling in Algoa Bay

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: White’s Road

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Slipway in Humewood

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: King’s Beach

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road

 

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals:

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Sand dunes, Inhabitants and Animals

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial: 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Horse Memorial

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof:

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Target Kloof

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

The Parsonage House at Number 7 Castle Hill Port Elizabeth

 

What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?

What happened to the Shark River in Port Elizabeth?

 

A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth

A Pictorial History of the Campanile in Port Elizabeth

 

Allister Miller: A South African Air Pioneer & his Connection with Port Elizabeth

Allister Miller: A South African Air Pioneer & his Connection with Port Elizabeth

 

The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour

The Three Eras of the Historic Port Elizabeth Harbour

The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station

The Historical Port Elizabeth Railway Station

 

The Friendly City – Port Elizabeth – My Home Town

The Friendly City – Port Elizabeth – My Home Town

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road Methodist Church – 1872 to 1966

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Russell Road Methodist Church – 1872 to 1966

 

The Royal Visit to Port Elizabeth in 1947

The Royal Visit to Port Elizabeth in 1947

 

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street before the Era of Trams

Port Elizabeth of Yore: Main Street before the Era of Trams

Sources:

 

Photos:

http://www.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/wwi/century/

http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/first-world-war-1914-1918-cef/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=300070

 

Books:

The Collegiate Church and Parish of St Mary – Port Elizabeth by Archdeacon Wirgman & Canon Cuthbert Edward Mayo

Internet:

Basford: http://www.delvillewood.com/cemeteries/basford.htm

Tardugno: http://www.airhistory.org.uk/rfc/people_index.html

Huntly: http://www.southafricawargraves.org/search/print.php?id=10570

Duberly: http://www.angloboerwar.com/forum/5-medals-and-awards/24747-from-the-p-e-t-g-to-the-s-a-l-h-with-marshall-s-horse-in-between

Duberly: http://www.southafricawargraves.org/search/print.php?id=6211

Duberly: http://www.southafricawargraves.org/search/details.php?id=6211

Private Harold Wright: http://www.delvillewood.com/cemeteries/wright%20la%20neuville.htm

Hodges: http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/SOUTH-AFRICA-EASTERN-CAPE/2005-06/1120037396

Hodges: http://www.southafricawargraves.org/search/details.php?id=10039

Cochrane: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30818/supplement/8984/data.pdf

 


1 Comments

  1. This series is a splendid piece of research and dedication.I think these articles must be recorded for future generations.A book please! Just a little point all bank officials are not of lesser interlect and the author of this comment who worked for 39 years with FNB aka Barclays spent many hours at the Afrikaner library.
    My insatiable desire for knowledge was spawned here.

    Reply

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