Gerhard Leopold HEUZENROEDER

Poppy

HEUZENROEDER, Gerhard Leopold

Service Numbers: 2678, 2678B
Enlisted: 23 August 1915, Adelaide South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Tanunda, 20 October 1885
Home Town: Tanunda, Barossa, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Photographer
Died: Killed In Action, Pozieres, Picardie, France, 23 July 1916, aged 30 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
No known Grave, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Tanunda Roll of Honor, Tanunda War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

23 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide South Australia Australia
27 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2678, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
27 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2678, 27th Infantry Battalion
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2678B, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Battle for Pozières
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

The Heuzenroeder brothers

There were four Heuzenroeder brothers who enlisted in WW1. Hailing originally from Broken Hill it appears at least two were in the Barossa region by the time WW1 was declared. All were, according to local anecdote, excellent rifle shots. Herbert Herman Heuzenroeder survived the war having been discharged due to dental health issues. He was well known throughout the Barossa and mid north as a snake charmer / reptile handler. Herman Hugo was the youngest brother - because his initials are the same as his eldest brother, the official record sometimes confuses the two. Herman was just 18 years old when he was killed in action at Mouquet Farm; again according to anecdote he was a sniper, but the sun glinting off an ejected cartridge case gave his position away and he drew heavy enemy retaliatory fire and was killed. Gerhard Leopold Heuzenroeder had also been killed at Pozieres on the opening day of the campaign. All three had consecutive service numbers. Youngest brother Moritz Wilfred enlisted later. He served with distinction in the 32nd Battalion winning a Military medal late in the war.

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Biography

Killed in Action at the start of the Battle of Pozieres.

"THE LATE PRIVATE G. L. HEUZENROEDER.

Mr. M. F. Heuzenroeder, of Tanunda, is in receipt of a letter concerning the death of his brother, Private G. L. Heuzenroeder, from Captain Arthur S. Blackburn, the first South Australian to receive the coveted V.C. Captain Blackburn's letter reads: —

"I much regret to have to report to you that your brother, Private G. L. Heuzenroeder, was killed in action on July 23. He was under my command and was a very brave and gallant soldier. He was shot by a sniper while carrying out his duty with his usual bravery during an attack. Death was instantaneous. I assure you of the utmost sympathy of myself and of all in the company who knew him." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 11 Nov 1916 (nla.gov.au)

 

From the book Fallen Saints

Gerhard Leopold Heuzenroeder was born in the country town of Tanunda in the heart of South Australia’s beautiful Barossa Valley. He attended St Peter's College with his brothers Herbert Herman and Moritz Ernest Heuzenroeder.

After leaving school Gerhard became a photographer, Moritz a chemist, and Herbert a ‘Snake Charmer.’ Peter Heuzenroeder of Tanunda South Australia says his father once told him how when Gerhard and Herbert went to enlist in August 1915 they went equipped with dog biscuits. Apparently they were afraid of being rejected for service on account of poor teeth so when it came time for the dental check they demonstrated their teeth were better than they looked by chewing on the dog biscuits. [i]

Obviously, their plan worked and when Gerhard and Herbert were accepted they and their cousin Herman were allocated numbers 2677, 2678 and 2676 respectively. All three were allotted to the 6th quota of reinforcements for the 27th Battalion and sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Benalla on 27 October 1915; another cousin, Moritz Wilfred Heuzenroeder, enlisted that month. 

Gerhard and his cousin Herman were posted to the 10th Battalion at Serapeum in February 1916 and in late March embarked aboard the Saxonia, and proceeded to France. Private Gerhard Heuzenroeder was killed in action at Pozières on 23 July 1916; he was 30 years of age.

Sometime after Pozières, Captain Blackburn VC wrote to inform Moritz Ernest Heuzenroeder of Tanunda that his brother Gerhard, a sniper in the 10th Battalion, had been killed on 23 July.

He was under my command, and was a very brave and gallant soldier. He was shot by a sniper, and killed instantly, while carrying out his duty with his usual bravery during an attack. [ii]

Gerhard’s cousin 19 year old Herman was killed in action on 22 August 1916 at Mouquet Farm; his brother Herbert and cousin Lance Corporal Moritz Wilfred Heuzenroeder MM, returned to Australia after the war.

Herbert, an excellent snake handler, was later in charge of the snake park at the Koala Farm in Adelaide. This was an Australian native animal and reptile park located in the north parklands opposite the Adelaide Zoo; it closed in 1960. 

Peter Heuzenroeder says that even today, folklore in and around Tanunda has it that the brothers were well known and much loved larrikins long before they enlisted. Both were crack shots and Gerhard had represented the School in shooting competitions against Prince Alfred College and various rifle clubs and won the Tanunda Kingship shooting competition when he was 23 years of age.

I was once told by an old ex-serviceman that it was the expelled brass shells glinting in the sun, which gave his position away. [iii]

The shelling at Pozières was the most horrific suffered by Australians before that time and nowhere on the Western Front were bombardments heavier.

During the night of 26 July amid a scene of total chaos, the 2nd Division began to relieve the 1st and by the time the relief was complete the 1st Division had suffered more than five thousand casualties. Colonel Weir’s most poignant memory of his service in France was at Pozières where the 10th Battalion’s total casualties for their first attack amounted to 350 men killed, wounded and missing.

So great was the onslaught that many of the dead were piled up in barricade formation and used for defensive purposes. [iv]

After the war the women of Tanunda’s Red Cross Society, Cheer up Society and the League of Loyal Women joined together to have a three metre high cross made from Angaston Marble erected in the public gardens of Tanunda. Below the inscription ‘Lest We Forget’ are chiselled the following names: S. H. Schroeder, J. C. Kindler, G. L. Heuzenroeder, E. Trotter, V. J. Wallace, R. H. Riebe, L. W. Schrader, W. Juttner.

When asked to speak at the ceremony before unveiling the cross, Colonel Stanley Price Weir DSO told the crowd how four of the men whose names were immortalised on the cross had served under his command. He said two of them, Privates Johann Kindler, and Stanley Schroeder had been hit by shrapnel on 20 April 1916 when the Battalion was shelled while marching from Moolenacker to Sailly to occupy billets as the Divisional Reserve. Private Kindler was killed outright and Private Schroeder died at 1st Field Ambulance later in the day.

The date of these men’s deaths 20 April 1916 is significant for according to Colonel Weir, they were the first South Australians in the AIF to lay down their lives for their country on the soil of France.



[i] Source Relative: Peter M Heuzenroeder, letter dated 24 January 2006
[ii] Adelaide Chronicle, Saturday 11 November 1916, p. 44
[iii] Heuzenroeder, P M, letter dated 24 January 2006
[iv] Lock, C B L, The Fighting 10th - A South Australian Centenary Souvenir of the 10th Battalion, AIF 1914-19, Webb & Son, Adelaide 1936, p. 150

 

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