From Hill End to the other side of the world | Yesterday, Today | western avocado


As Anzac Day approaches, this week’s article focuses on the First World War. Clarence was born in Hill End to English parents. He went to Bathurst to enlist in September 1916, at the age of 28. He was a worker. On September 19, he filled out his enrollment forms and went to Orange for his medical examination. His details were recorded, noting that he was five-foot-nine and dark-skinned with black hair. He weighed 145 pounds and he listed his religion as C of E. He was single. Clarence listed his sister Clarissa Homby, who lived in Byers Street in Enfield, as next of kin. He was posted to “A” Company, Depot Battalion Bathurst, with his commanding officer as WH Anderson. Clarence’s basic training began the following day at the Bathurst Showground. He received part of his uniform, but these were rare. On October 8, he traveled from Bathurst station for the Liverpool camp. A few weeks later, after three days off, Clarence returned to Sydney by steam train and headed for Liverpool and then on to the Western Front in France. Infantry soldiers boarded the troop ship SS Afric on 3 November 1916 and it disembarked at Plymouth on 9 January 1917. Their troop ship had been fitted with mess tables and hammocks, with troops taking turns on three quarters eight hours. On board, the young Australians continued to train every day except Sunday, when there was a church parade. The men underwent drills, sports, drills and games, and then there was custodial duties and supervision during meal times. From Plymouth he was sent to Folkestone, a port town on the English Channel in Kent, south-east England, where he joined the 15th Training Battalion for further training. On March 26, he sailed for overseas, where he joined the 58th Battalion as part of the 7th Reinforcements on April 10, 1917. Clarence was admitted to a field hospital on May 29, after which he was discharged with the flu in England the Hospital Ship St. George. He was in and out of hospital with scabies and later trench fever in Exeter. On October 21, 1917, Clarence had been transferred to No. 3 Convalescent Depot at Whymouth, and on the same day moved to No. 2 Convalescent Depot at Hurdcott, where he was put aboard a troopship. On December 28, 1917, Private Maris was transferred ex-RMS Ormonde to SS Kenilworth Castle, then to HMAT A7 Medic on January 3, 1918 for “convoy to Australia”. The Medic was not just a troop carrier, but had seven cargo holds, most of which were refrigerated to carry Australian meat. Most troop ships in World War I were coal-fired steamships, meaning their routes were determined by ports with coal-loading facilities. The ships carried troops, equipment, artillery, supplies and horses. Troop ships traveled in convoys with naval escort, including battleships for protection. Most convoys were constantly adopting new formations and changing their patterns to evade the enemy. HMAT A7 Medic arrived in Sydney on January 23, 1918 and Clarence was sent to the 3rd Military District and discharged. He was officially discharged on March 23, 1918 as “medically unfit”, his papers noting that he suffered from an “inability to exercise”. It appears that Clarence requested a pension several times, but all requests were denied. Clarence was one of more than 330,000 Australians who sailed for war between 1914 and 1918; these numbers included soldiers, nurses and Red Cross volunteers. Clarence lived in “Malvern”, Byers Street, Enfield on his return from the war. He was awarded three medals – the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


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