Sep 24, 2014

William Stanley ORMANDY [1883 - 1917]

William Ormandy was born in Macarthur in June 1883, Macarthur is 66 klms NE of Portland, in the south west area of Victoria, Australia.

His parents were George Samuel ORMANDY and Grace LINDSAY who were married at Branxholme in December 1865. George was born in Lancashire, England and Grace was born in Stirlingshire, Scotland.

I know little of William Stanley Ormandy, certainly no one in the family has passed on any information that I know of, so have taken most of the information of his life whilst in the AIF from his attestation papers and from the 4th MGC diaries available through the NAA (National Archives of Australia) and the AWM (Australian War Memorial) websites.

Description Circular colour patch for 4 Division Machine Gun Company and 24 Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF, showing a central white circle on a black background, below which are two crossed guns in yellow. Summary Worn as a distinguishing unit indication at the head of each sleeve from 1917. The two crossed guns were the patch of the Machine Gun Corps, although they was not worn by machine gun squadrons allotted to the Light Horse brigades.

On the 29th September 1916 William enlisted in the AIF with the 4th Machine Gun Company with service number 560.  He embarked Melbourne on board the HMAT ORSOVA on 6th December 1916 bound for Plymouth, England where he arrived in February 1917


After some months of training in England he proceeded to France on board the PRINCESS VICTORIA, but just four days after his arrival at Boulogne he was admitted to hospital with German Measles and did not rejoin his unit again until 22nd May 1917.

30 May 1917

The 4th MGC proceeded to the reinforcement camp at Morbecque in the north of France.

7 June 1917

The Battle of Messines Ridge

and from the AWM (Australian War Memorial) site:

Successful British assault on the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, a strongly held strategic position on the Western Front, which had been held by the Germans since late 1914. The offensive operation was the product of long preparation, detailed planning and sound training carried out by General Plumer's Second Army. The initial assault was preceded by the detonation of 19 mines under the German font line which caused an estimated 10 000 German casualties. British, Australian and New Zealand infantry advanced behind a carefully co-ordinated artillery bombardment and took all their objectives within the first hours of the battle. German counter attacks the following day failed, and although German resistance continued until 14 June, British, Australian and New Zealand forces retained possession of the captured areas. The battle is often cited as a model for a well planned limited objective attack. Messines represented a preliminary to the major British offensive in Flanders in 1917, the Third Battle of Ypres.

8 June 1917

Now at Messines Ridge, Belgium. Image shows the Officers of the 4th Machine Gun Company eating breakfast in a reserve near Messines during the Battle of Messines which started on 7th June.  These men moved to the front line after dark.

9th June 1917

instructions given to the 4th MGC to relieve the 1st NZ Machine Gun Company in the Messines Sector.

13 June 1917

The above image shows members of No. 1 Section, 4th Australian Machine Gun Company, in a front line trench approximately one kilometre south east of Messines. The Company fought here from 9 to 14 June 1917 (Battle of Messines)

9 July 1917

William was admitted to hospital - in field - with septic abrasion to the buttock. One week later on the 16th July he rejoined his unit.

29 August 1917

still at Ploegsteert Woods, Belgium and all men given morning off to tidy themselves up and bath themselves. Afternoon cleaning of all gun gear & packing & cleaning of wagons.

1 September 1917

The morning was devoted to the care of the mens feet - a foot inspection being held by section officers and attention being paid to socks. Billets were cleared & gun gear & wagons packed ready. The next morning (2nd September) the men were embussing at 9:00am at Merville. Arrived at Lisbourg about 3.00pm and marched to Crepy where they were billeted with 16th Battalion.

13 September 1917

By the 13th they were at Fruges, Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France where this group image (above) was taken of 4th Machine Gun Company.

18 September 1917

The Company fell in at 8.45am & marched to Crepy. From there they proceeded in buses to the vicinity of Staple, near Hazelbronck. On 20th the Company moved off at 8.30am for Steenvoorde area & arrived in Billets there at about 3.00pm. Next day orders were received to embus for Canal area, near Ypres.

23 September 1917

at Westhoek Ridge, Belgium

Headquarters and the two sections left Belgian Chateau at 3.00pm for 7th Australian MGC Headquarters at Westhoek Ridge, the route being through Ypres & along the Ypres-Menin Road.

yellow line shows location of Westhoek Ridge east of Ypres

Windy outpost on Westhoek Ridge ~ Belgium

24th September 1917

Preliminary Orders for the offensive which is to take place shortly were issued this afternoon. A barrage was put over by our artillery at 8.00pm. There was a fair amount of retaliation from the enemy.

25th September 1917

Memo received from Rear Battalion Headquarters that attack will take place on “K” Day which is tomorrow, 26th Inst. Zero hour 5:50am.

The Brigadier thinks that 3.00am is too early to be on the jumping off tape but that at the same time the tails of Battalion should be clear of present support line ….

26 September 1917

The Battle of Polygon Wood.

~from the diary of the 4th Machine Gun Company ~
we can only assume that William Stanley Ormandy
was one of the "two men in front line have been killed"

The attack commenced at 5.50am 26 September, 1917 with the Australian 4th and 5th Divisions and 5 British divisions following an artillery barrage on a 10 kilometre front. The Australian 4th and 5th Divisions were responsible for a front of about 2,500 metres. All northern objectives were taken while on the southern front captured all their objectives as well as some objectives assigned to X Corps. One of the main objectives was Polygon Wood Butts, which in peacetime was the Ypres district rifle range. From the Butts the Germans commanded an excellent view of all targets with their machine guns. This was also taken.

This was designed as the second blow of the Ypres battle. Casualties on both sides were about equal. The Australian 4th Division captured all its objectives and sustained 1,717 casualties. The more heavily engaged Australian 5th Division suffered 5,471 dead and wounded. The Allied forces were now in a position to strike at the main Broodseinde ridge.

KIA - 26 September 1917

the will - in part - of William Stanley Ormandy

Polygon Wood is a small wood which is about four miles east of Ypres. The wood was sometimes known as Racecourse Wood, as there was a track within it. Before the Great War, Polygon Wood was by the Belgian Army and within it stands a large mound, known as the Butte, which was used for musketry training. On the Butte today stands a memorial to the 5th Australian Division.

During the War, Polygon Wood was totally destroyed, and the wood was replanted after the war. There are 'rides' or tracks running through the wood which can be walked, and in terms of the Great War, there is a large cemetery, plus a New Zealand Memorial to the Missing as well as the Australian Memorial within the wood itself. Just outside the wood is a small original wartime cemetery. In fact, the entrances to the two sites are directly opposite on either side of the road, at the north-eastern apex of the wood.

Commemoration details The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 31), Belgium


Roll of Honour name projection.

William Stanley Ormandy's name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory (AWM) in Canberra on:

  • Fri 24 October, 2014 at 5:39 am
  • Wed 17 December, 2014 at 5:38 am
  • Tue 10 February, 2015 at 3:02 am
  • Wed 1 April, 2015 at 11:42 pm
  • Wed 13 May, 2015 at 8:27 pm
  • Mon 22 June, 2015 at 1:59 am
  • Wed 29 July, 2015 at 6:56 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.

With grateful thanks to the following for information and the use of images & data off their sites:

another family member, Arnold Roy Bartram 
and not related to William Ormandy, 
also embarked Melbourne on board the HMAT ORSOVA!

read about Arnold HERE


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