Sep 12, 2014

Samuel James Naismith [1895 - 1918]

Samuel James Naismith was born in 1895 at Tumbarumba to Samuel James Naismith and Eliza Quinn (nee Wilson). The small town of Tumbarumba is located North-East of Albury in New South Wales, Australia.

By the age of 20 years (& 5 months) Samuel had enlisted in the 5th Battalion AIF in Melbourne.  Both parents had given written consent.  His enlistment papers record that his eyes were grey, his complexion fair and his hair light brown. His occupation was that of a saddler (one who made saddles, harnesses, horse collars, bridles, etc.) and his religion was listed as Presbyterian.

After training was completed at Broadmeadows Army Camp, Samuel embarked Melbourne on board the HMAT NESTOR on 11th October 1915 bound for the Middle East via Fremantle (West Australia)

HMAT NESTOR at Port Melbourne 2nd October 1916

William Le Brun
- another family member, but unknown to each other - departed Melbourne on board HMAT A71 "Nestor" on 11 October 191. William was in the 7th Battalion

HMAT NESTOR arrived in Fremantle at 11:35 am on Sunday the 17th, but the diggers weren’t allowed ashore and only stopped long enough to offload four chaps who were quite ill. There had been an outbreak of measles and other disease's in the preceding days. All were given vaccinations once underway.

Various diary entries refer to the sea being ‘as smooth as glass’; to flying fish; whales squirting water into the air and ‘porpoises playing in front of the boat.’

By October 31st they were already in the Gulf of Aden and
entered the Red Sea on the 1st November. On the 4th of November at around 10:00 pm, they anchored about 3 miles off Suez. Unfortunately one of the cooks didn’t quite make it there and died just the day before and was buried at sea. 

With the excitement of their arrival though, and the beauty of the bright lights on shore, everyone was in high spirits however they weren’t to disembark until the morning of the 6th. The ensuing train trip to Heliopolis took another seven long hours arriving at 5:30 pm.  

Despite their arduous journey, they went into Cairo that night to be greeted by ‘a filthy place’ and ‘natives [who] try to take you down.’  

Generally, it was hot and dusty most of the time and money was scarce.  By the end of November (1915) bayonet drills had been common and there was talk of the possibility of an uprising against them from the locals.

On 4th December (1915) Samuel was admitted to the 4th Auxiliary Hospital in Abbassia with mumps.
There were multiple hospitals for the armed forces at Abbassia, including the No. 4 Auxiliary Hospital and the 3rd and 14th Australian General Hospitals. The former was of smaller size than the General Hospitals, and the inside view of a ward in 1916 is shown below with patients, nurses and doctors.

 Abbassia is a neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt.


By March 1916 Samuel was at the Garrison Camp at Zeitoun in the Reserve Brigade awaiting orders to be dispatched to Europe. He embarked Alexandria in Egypt for B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) on 29th March 1916 and disembarked at Marseilles on 4th April.

By the first week of June (1916) he was 'taken on strength' from the 5th Battalion into the 1st Pioneers Battalion.

25th July 1916 ~

Samuel Naismith and the rest of his Battalion found themselves in the Front Line right in The Battle of Pozieres...

For three days, 24 to 26 July 1916, the Germans relentlessly bombarded Pozières. The aim of this concentrated shelling was not simply to prepare for a counter–attack but to inflict as much damage and loss on the Australians as possible.

Also shelled were the approaches to the village, by which vital supplies entered and hundreds of walking wounded and stretcher–bearers carrying the severely injured exited. One of these approaches was the ‘sunken road’, which reached Pozières from the countryside to the south–west on the other side of the main road just opposite First Australian Division Street. Enemy shells rained down on the village’s main street and along the ‘sunken road’ for most of 24 July.

24 October 1916 ~

the Battalion
left billets in Dernancourt at 1400 hours & proceeded to Pommiers Camp arriving at about 1730.

 " ..... and worming its way on foot through traffic for another ten miles in the afternoon, turned off the crowded road at dusk into a muddy plateau known as "Pommiers Camp", near Montauban. Here, as no cover was available for three quarters of the men, the majority slept in the open, improvising what shelter they could with their blankets and water-proof sheets. Little rain had fallen since the previous day, but there was a heavy frost and the ground was wet ... "

1st November 1916

The end of the Somme, Nov 1916 The worsening weather & physical destruction of the battlefield made life hellish for attackers & defenders alike. So October and November saw the two last attacks, The Battle of Transloy Ridges and Battle of the Ancre.

the winter of 1916 / 1917  was horrendous for everyone

4th November 1916

during the Battle of Transloy Ridge in France, Samuel was wounded in action, in the field with a GSW (Gun Shot Wound) to the leg, wrist and back. On the 12th he was moved to England for medical treatment and by the 16th he was being admitted to the 2nd Southern General Hospital with severe GSW to the left leg.

The conditions in which the stretcher bearers had to carry the
injured men to the Casualty Clearing Stations.

12th February 1917 ~

Samuel Naismith was at Perham Downs for rehab.
Perham Downs was an AIF army camp on the edge of the Salisbury Plain in England, and Sam reported there after being at Furlough.

Perham Downs Camp, near Tidworth in England

This was when his father - also named Samuel James Naismith - enlisted in the AIF and embarked Melbourne on 11th May 1917 heading towards Europe.

29 Jul 1917 ~

After spending sometime at Perham Downs recovering from his injuries, Samuel was attached to the 15th T
raining Battalion at Hurdcott, near Fovant in Wiltshire. But by October he proceeded to rejoin his unit - 1st Pioneer Battalion - at Havre, in Belgium.

1st March 1918 ~

The Battle of Yrpes and a major Battle in which the 1st Pioneer Battalion took part.

The Battalion was sending it's companies up to the front lines - a distance of 8 klms - from Godezonne Farm, digging and repairing trenches, MG pits, shelters, etc. During the month of March they had 2 that were killed and 65 wounded performing these duties.

11th September 1918 ~

Battalion moved by march route to Tincourt area of France.

17th September 1918 ~

Samuel James Naismith was Killed in Action:
Tincourt, Somme, Picardie, France 
KIA - enemy mine. 
The 1st Pioneers Battalion were doing general road repairs and two diggers (one being Samuel) were killed by an explosion of enemy 'booby trap'

Samuel Naismith is buried at the 
Tincourt New British Cemetery, Picardie, France Plot: V. E. 7.

He was 23 years of age.

Samuel James Naismith and his wife Eliza,
with their son, Samuel James Naismith

Roll of Honour name projection at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Samuel James Naismith's name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory at the AWM on:

  • Sun 26 October, 2014 at 2:15 am
  • Fri 19 December, 2014 at 2:54 am
  • Wed 11 February, 2015 at 10:37 pm
  • Fri 3 April, 2015 at 3:13 am
  • Thu 14 May, 2015 at 11:58 pm
  • Tue 23 June, 2015 at 4:05 am
  • Thu 30 July, 2015 at 9:02 pm
These dates and times are estimates. The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

1st Australian Pioneer Battalion ...
The 1st AIF was a purely volunteer force for the duration of the war. In Australia, two plebiscites on conscription were defeated, thereby preserving the volunteer status but stretching the AIF's reserves towards the end of the war.

A total of 331,814 Australians were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF, which represented 13% of the white male population. Of these, 18% (61,859) were killed. The casualty rate (killed or wounded) was 64%.

About 2,100 women served with the 1st AIF, mainly as nurses. Close to 20% of those who served in the 1st AIF had been born in the United Kingdom but all enlistments had to occur in Australia (there were a few exceptions). As a volunteer force, all units were demobilized at the end of the war.

t should be noted however, that the term '1st AIF' was in use as early as August 1914, in anticipation that a 2nd AIF would one day be formed.

The following are a few links that were of great help with the blog posting of Samuel Naismith so that I could record his life in the AIF as close as possible.

some of the above - re the journey in October 1915 on board the HMAT NESTOR - are from the diary of Bert Manderson as written here.

Fleurs - The Somme Battle Ends

Bombardment of Pozieres

Australian War Memorial

National Archives of Australia

With grateful thanks to all of the above websites.



Sep 8, 2014

Samuel James NAISMITH [1867 - 1941]

Samuel James Naismith was born in 1867 in Prahran, Victoria, Australia. Samuel was the fourth child of James Naismith and Hannah Barnes.

image of Samuel Naismith (senior) taken when he enlisted in the AIF

Samuel lived in the Wimmera District for a few years and then in 1894 - at the age of 27 -  left Warracknabeal and moved to the district around Tumbarumba in New South Wales.  This is where he met the widow - Eliza Quinn - and they had a son they named Samuel James Naismith. Samuel (junior) was born at Tumbarumba on 23rd May 1895.

Four years later - in 1899 - Samuel James Naismith married Eliza Quinn (nee Wilson).

The Naismith Family
Samuel and Eliza and their son, Samuel Naismith.

In 1903, Samuel was reported as "missing' by his brother - Hiram Thomas Naismith.  Hiram mentioned in the Police Gazette of NSW that Samuel had been missing for just on 9 years. There is no record of them locating each other, but one can only assume so. We do have the census records of 1914 Samuel & Eliza residing at 39 Cliff St, Prahran and at 25 Portland St, South Yarra where his occupation is a brick maker.

At the age of 50 in March of 1917, Samuel had enlisted in the AIF, was given the service number 3694 and allocated to the 2nd Pioneer Battalion. By the 11th May he had embarked
Melbourne on board the HMAT SHROPSHIRE bound for Plymouth, England.

In January 1918 he proceeded overseas to France and was taken on strength by the 2nd Pioneer Battalion.
Samuel was attached to the Australian Graves Detachment and began the work of locating, burying and reburying the Australian dead, particularly around Amiens.

In September of that same year (1918) his only son - also named Samuel James Naismith - was KIA at Tincourt, Somme, France. He was killed by an enemy mine early on the morning of 17th September 1918.

One year later - Samuel Naismith - returned to Australia on board the PORT DENISON arriving into Melbourne on 13th November 1919.

There is a report of Sam and his wife (Eliza) leaving Temora in July 1936 and then moving to Bowen in Queensland, they obviously did not stay there too long and returned to Cootamundra Road, Temora where he lived with his wife Eliza. He died there at the age of 74 years on 4th July 1941. 

next blog post is on his son - Samuel James Naismith - who was KIA on 17th September 1918 in the Tincourt area of France.


Sep 1, 2014

a very busy project!

Over the past year or so I have been researching and gathering photos and information on the members of my family (including extended family) that served in both World Wars.

My 'goal' has been to document what I can in memory of these men that fought in such horrendous conditions so that we may experience some form of peace today.

The ones I have completed are listed below:

if anyone has any extra data on any of the above, do please let me know.
Leone Fabre

Aug 31, 2014

Albert Henry Blackmore [1894 - 1918]

Albert Henry Blackmore was the third child of John Alexander Blackmore and Edith Caroline Riggs. He was born at Maldon in Victoria, Australia on 7th November 1894.

He had four sisters, Alice born in 1891, then Clarice in 1892, Violet in 1897, Miriam in 1901 and then a brother named Colin that was born in 1904.
Alice was born in Broken Hill in NSW, but died before she reached one year old.

In 1915 Albert decided to enlist in the AIF, so signed up on 19th July 1915 in Melbourne. He was allocated to the 21st Battalion, 4th Regiment, A Company with service number 2116.

He did his training at Broadmeadows Army Camp before departing on the HMAT A20 HORORATA on 24th September bound for the Middle East via Perth, Western Australia.


The following is from the "21st Battalion History Details"

We arrived at Tel-el-kebir in the midst of the first rain storm we had experienced in Egypt and found that the few tents on our camping ground were occupied by our 4th, 5th and part of our 6th reinforcements. After a few days when we had sorted ourselves out we found that we were in camp alongside the 1st Division. Both Divisions were complete with artillery, engineers and all division troops for the first time, our own divisional artillery and engineers having arrived from Australia to join us.

The Battalion stayed at Tel-el-kebir training till the 25th January (1916) when the Division moved out to take over the Canal Zone defences. We travelled by train to Ismailia---Moasar and marched to Ferry Post. Next day we marched from Ferry Post to our defensive position near Hog Back, ten miles in a straight line. After consultation with some who took part in most of our marches, the writer unhesitatingly puts this down as the worst "promenade" we ever did. Every man was fully equipped with extra ammunition, rations and two blankets in addition to the ordinary Etceteras. When we reached the end the ‘Q’ department had failed and we solaced ourselves on Bully beef, biscuits and very little water. And all this in the heat of the Egyptian sun; yes it was some march.

Routine on the Sinai’s Desert was strenuous. Training occupied our time by day, and one night in four each company had a run on outpost duty. We owed a great deal of our efficiency in France to the six weeks spent guarding the Canal. In February the Brigade Machine Gun Company was formed and the Battalion M.G. Officer and Sergeant attended a course of Lewis Gunnery at Ismailia.

The early hours of the 19th March found us in open trucks in the rain once more en route for Alexandria where next day we embarked on the "Minnewaska" for Marseilles. The voyage was pleasant as regards weather but nervy as regards submarines and we were glad to tie up safety alongside a French wharf in the afternoon of the 24th March. The 2nd Division was the first Australian unit in France except the Siege Artillery and the 1st Divisional Motor Transport. This being the case our reception was exceptionally enthusiastic. During our three days train journey from Marseilles to Aire. We were delighted by the sight of the green countryside, the broad sweep of the Rhone and the undoubted warmth of our welcome from the people.

We detrained at Aire on the 27th March (1916) and marched to our first billets in Glominghem; more rain. Thus early in our career we had established that the 21st Battalion moved either in the rain or on a Sunday. At Glominghem we were practiced in route marching on hard roads again, a change from the desert and put through a gas cloud. The 6th Light Trench Mortar Battery, our friends throughout the war came into being at this time. Their little weapon, the Stokes Mortar at once took the fancy of us all and ever since when in trouble we have called for the little guns, and found them at their posts. During our stay at Glominghem, we were reviewed by Lord Kitchener.

"On 4th April we marched towards the line at Fleurbaix staying the first night at Haverskerque (13 miles) and the second at Sailly (10 miles)".

"Once again the first Australian Infantry unit to take the plunge, we left Sailly for the front line on the evening of the 7th April to take over from the 10th Battalion, Lincoln Regt."

Our first days in France were happy days. Glad to be free from the drag of the desert; satisfied with the thought that we were now to take part in a campaign in which there was a possibility of warfare of movement; fit as fiddles, trained to a hair and broken in to the sights and sounds of warfare. We were some Battalion. The idea of warfare of movement remained our dream for more than two years before we actually saw it. Not till the summer of 1918 did we know the joy of having the Hun on the run. Our dreams were then justified and as General Monash has said, we realised that there is no such tonic for weary troops as success.

April 1916

Early June 1916:
Training, rifle cleaning, Church Parades etc in the Rue Marle area of France.

22nd June 1916:

Albert was transferred to England on 22 June, admitted to University War Hospital on 23 June,
Possibly Bacterial and viral infections of the gastrointestinal tract, transferred to Enteric Depot, Woldingham on 8th July 1916. Discharged 25 July 1916.

26th July 1916:
21st Battalion getting ready to hit the Front line at Pozieres.

30th July 1916:
preparing orders for attack on German Lines & making prem. arrangements re keeping direction etc. Taking over the trenches from 23rd Battalion. 21st Battalion to relieve same in the afternoon.

 21st August 1916:
Roue March from Vadencourt to Brickfields near ALBERT. Then to TARA GULLY, SAUSAGE VALLEY & WIRE TRENCH.

at Sausage Valley

By November 1916 the 21st Battalion were in billets at Dernancourt and by the 20th December they were relieving the 59th Battalion at the Front Line.

Early in 1917 they were still in the trenches in France with continual heavy bombardment from the enemy.  This continued through till the end of February 1917.

in hospital for at total of 76 days due to Rat bites.
1st March 1917:
in hospital 37 days due to RAT BITE behind the left ear. Bitten by rats in the trenches at Loupart Bastian. General condition poor. Then in June was again bitten behind the ear by rats. Infected glands large & tender. Heart/pulse rapid. In hospital another 39 days.
"In the cramped trenches, many parasites thrived. The worst of these were the rodents: rats gorged themselves on human remains, and grew to massive sizes: some reported rats as big as domestic cats. The rats would also sometimes eat the fresh rations of the soldiers, and nibble at the soldiers themselves as they slept or if they were wounded. The rodents would attack a corpse's eyes, and then burrow themselves into the bodies. They were a terrible problem: as one pair of rats can produce as much as 880 offspring a year, the trenches were soon crawling with millions of them. Some men made pets of the animals as company, but most rats were fearsome creatures"

1st October 1917:
in October participated in the 3-kilometre advance that captured Broodseinde Ridge, east of Ypres. Like the rest of the AIF the battalion saw out the year recuperating from the trials of the Ypres sector.

"Ypres in the autumn in 1917 was an area of muddy shell holes over which only the paths were corduroy roads and duckboard tracks. These were all well registered by the enemy and movement was difficult in the forward areas. The battle on the 4th October (1917) was a Triumph as also was the following show on the 9th; both however cost us (21st Bn) dearly. In the two shows we lost particularly heavily in officers, thirteen killed outright. The casualties for this period were: -

Officers, 10 killed, 10 wounded, 3 missing, Total 23

Other ranks, 62 killed, 330 wounded, 24 missing,Total 416"

6th November 1917:
Albert Blackmore was back in hospital (for his 22nd birthday!) this time with Typhoid Fever. He certainly had his fair share of 'hospital admissions', two with rat bites and one with Typhoid.

Towards Christmas 1917 the 21st Battalion were back in the Front Line, this time at Ploegsteert and Hill 63 in Belgium.

April 1918:

Albert had now moved from Ploegsteert area to Lavieville area, where the 21st Bn stayed for the rest of April 1918 in the Front Line.

19th May 1918 at
Ville-Sur-Ancre, France
Albert was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near Albert on 19 May 1918 .......

at the age of 23 years, Albert Blackmore was appointed a Lance-Corporal at Querrieu, Somme, France. This was in June 1918.

19th July 1918:
records show the 21st Battalion at Villers-Bretonneux on 19, 20th, 21st & 22nd .. but on the 23rd July, Albert was wounded in action by being 'gassed'
at Villers-Bretonneux.
"at 10:00pm enemy opened a heavy bombardment of
Gas Shells on Villers-Bretonneux and the vicinity ..... "

Three weeks later - on 13th August - Albert rejoined his Battalion, the 21st Battalion in France.

But sadly, just 19 days later, on the first day of the Battle of St Quentin, Albert Henry Blackmore was KIA. It was Sunday 1st September 1918
and he was just age of 23 years. 

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin was a battle on the Western Front during World War I. As part of the Allied counteroffensives on the Western Front in the late summer of 1918, the Australian Corps crossed the Somme River on the night of August 31, and broke the German lines at Mont Saint-Quentin and Péronne. The British Fourth Army's commander, General Henry Rawlinson, described the Australian advances of August 31 – September 4 as the greatest military achievement of the war. During the battle Australian troops stormed, seized and held the key height of Mont Saint-Quentin (overlooking Péronne), a pivotal German defensive position on the line of the Somme. 

The 7th Brigade advanced through us on the morning of the 2nd September and inflicted another severe defeat on the Hun, after which he set off hot foot for his next defensive position, the Hindenburg line. We took few prisoners, our numbers being so small and the Huns fighting so desperately, prevented us doing so. We, however captured 58 machine guns and many senior officers were of the opinion that there were more dead Huns after Mont St. Quentin than any other battle on the Battalion front.

Grave marker of eleven members of the 21st Battalion who were all killed in action at Mont St Quentin, France on 1 September 1918 and buried in a mass grave.

Listed on the plaque are:
6817 Sergeant Colin Edward Hunt from Surrey Hills, Victoria; 2116 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) Albert Henry Blackmore, MM from North Maldon, Victoria;
5413 L Cpl Gustaf William Oscar Staaf from Echuca, Victoria; 6833 Private (Pte) Albert Edwin Kelly from Ballarat, Victoria; 6874 Pte Francis William Roberts from Upper Hawthorn, Victoria;
6380 Pte Alfred Roy Smerdon, from Murrayville, Victoria; 6178 Pte William Hugh Thorburn from Newtown, NSW;
664A Pte Edwin Werrett Thompson from Colac, Victoria; 6747 Pte William Francis Dowell from Thornbury, Victoria; 6781 Pte David George Gregory Chandler from North Williamstown, Victoria;
6398 Pte Alexander Walker from Rochester, Victoria.

The above listed were all later moved to individual graves in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France.

Péronne, Somme, Picardie, France
Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension (Plot III, Row L, Grave No. 32), France

Notice in The Argus (Melbourne) 17 Sept 1918

Blackmore - Mr & Mrs Alexander Blackmore, of Maldon, have been officially notified that their son, Lance Corporal Albert Henry Blackmore was killed in action in France on Sept 1. He enlisted in July 1915 when 21 yrs.

at the AWM in Canberra

Albert Henry Blackmore's name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:

  • Fri 12 September, 2014 at 1:48 am
  • Fri 31 October, 2014 at 8:49 pm
  • Wed 24 December, 2014 at 11:28 pm
  • Tue 17 February, 2015 at 12:17 am
  • Tue 7 April, 2015 at 5:19 am
  • Tue 19 May, 2015 at 3:04 am
  • Sat 27 June, 2015 at 1:30 am
  • Tue 4 August, 2015 at 1:27 am
These dates and times are estimates. The actual time of projection could change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

Family connections:
Arthur Geraldton HIGGS embarked on HMAT HORORATA in Perth in October 1915.  Same ship that Albert BLACKMORE embarked on in Melbourne in September.

Arthur HIGGS was KIA 24th July 1916 at Pozieres.

further websites and links that were of great help in the above blog post:

with grateful thanks