Captain Joseph Joel Hammond

Joe Hammond and ‘Britannia’, a Bleriot XI-2 in New Zealand, January 1914

Joe Hammond was a pioneering aviator. Amongst his ‘firsts’ were: first New Zealander to gain a Royal Aero Club certificate (no. 32), pilot of the first aircraft to fly in Western Australia, and the first cross-country flight in Australia. At the time of his death he had reputedly accumulated (although unverified) about 6,000 flying hours.

Joseph Joel ‘Joe’ Hammond was born on 19 July 1886 at Feilding in the Manawatu district on North Island, New Zealand.[1] He attended Campbell Street School in Palmerston North and St Patrick’s College, Wellington. Prior to the start of his flying career, Hammond travelled and worked intermittently in Australia, Alaska, the United States, and Europe. While in Seaford in East Sussex, Hammond met Ethelwyn Wilkinson, the daughter of a well-to-do local builder, and they were married on 19 November 1909.[2] Shortly afterwards in France Hammond began to learn to fly and qualified for Aero Club de France Certificate No. 258[3] in a Sánchez Besa biplane on 4 October 1910. He qualified for Royal Aero Club Certificate No. 32 on 22 November 1910, flying a Bristol Boxkite on Salisbury Plain. Continue reading

Captain Charles Hereward Becker

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Ohio.

The grave of Charles Hereward Becker

Captain Charlie Becker was commissioned into The East Surrey Regiment in November 1915. He served in France with the 8th and 9th (Service) Battalions, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) in 36th Brigade, 12th Division. Wounded serving with the former in April 1917, he went back out to France but was sent home and placed on light duties after a short period with the latter. In July 1918, he arrived in the United States for duty as an instructor with the British War Mission at Camp Sherman near Chillicothe, Ohio. Just after midnight on 8/9 August 1918 he was killed in a motor accident, aged 21, and was buried in Grandview Cemetery, Chillicothe. His grave is in the southern part of the cemetery in Section 10, Lot 29, Grave 67.

A very detailed essay about the life of Charlie Becker is reproduced here with the permission of the author Doug Rowe.

Charles Hareward Becker

Serjeant Malcolm MacFarlane

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Pennsylvania.

Serjeant Malcolm MacFarlane

Serjeant Malcolm MacFarlane died during the influenza pandemic while serving in Philadelphia with the British and Canadian Recruiting Mission.

He was born on 20 June 1889 at Newington in Edinburgh, the youngest of the six children of James and Janet MacFarlane.[1] The family had lived in Linlithgow, where James MacFarlane worked as a grocer and where the first five children were born, before moving to Newington sometime in the 1880s. His father found work there as a stationary steam engine driver and when Malcolm left school, he went to work as a graphical draughtsman for the well-known cartographers John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. Continue reading

New Headstone for Company Serjeant Major George Mayer Symons

The new gravestone for George Symons, August 2016
The new gravestone for George Symons, August 2016

Warrant Officer Class 2, Company Serjeant Major, George Mayer Symons, The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), attached to the British War Mission, died during the influenza epidemic at Camp Lee, Virginia on 8 October 1918. He was buried in Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg.

Unfortunately, his grave marker was incorrectly inscribed. The error was first identified by Betsy Dinger, a Park Ranger of the National Parks Service responsible for the cemetery. In conjunction with the CWGC team in Ottawa, she obtained a new, correctly inscribed headstone and stored it pending the refurbishment of the cemetery. Continue reading

Major Ernest Arthur St George Bedbrook

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in New York.

The Grave of Major Ernest Bedbrook
The Grave of Major Ernest Bedbrook

Ernest Arthur St George Bedbrook was born at Chatham Dockyard in Kent on 23 April 1879, the seventh of the 10 children of James and Matilda Bedbrook.[1] His father became ‘Chief Inspector of Machinery in Her Majesty’s Fleet’.

Educated at St. George’s College, Wimbledon, he became a civil engineer and joined the Civil Engineering Department of the Admiralty and later London County Council; in the latter appointment he was involved in the design of Greenwich generating station. He then worked for Messrs. Rendel & Robertson, Consulting Engineers for the India Office,[2] and was European representative of the Pennsylvania-based Midvale Steel Co. Continue reading

Private James Henry Hartley

This is one of two essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Kentucky.

The grave of Private James Henry Hartley
The grave of Private James Henry Hartley

Private James Hartley was one of the first men to join the newly formed Machine Gun Corps in the autumn of 1915. He was one of 79 men from The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) who formed the basis of 46th Company. By the end of the war a quarter—Hartley and 18 others—were dead. Continue reading

Private Francis George Thomas

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Louisiana.

Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans
Greenwood Cemetery, New Orleans

Frank Thomas was born in 1891 at Wells Street,[1] off Gray’s Inn Road, London the eldest of the two surviving children of Francis and Emma Thomas. His father was a printer’s compositor, a trade that Frank was to be follow. His father died in the early part of 1900 and by 1911 his mother was working as a cook in a factory—Frank was living with her and was a printer’s apprentice.[2]

After the outbreak of war, he enlisted into the British Army on 9 September 1914 at Holborn for service with 7th (Service) Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment.[3] He joined his new battalion at Shoreham-by-Sea in Sussex and was allocated the regimental number 14178. Private Thomas did not serve there for long—he was discovered to have flat feet and was discharged on 27 October.

Not satisfied with his first experience of military service he enlisted again, this time at Islington, and joined The London Regiment. Continue reading