Hugh Montgomery MCNIDDER

MCNIDDER, Hugh Montgomery

Service Number: 70
Enlisted: 24 March 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Stromness, Orkney islands, Scotland, July 1881
Home Town: Wonthaggi, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Coal Miner - State coal mine
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

24 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 24th Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement Private, 70, 24th Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked Private, 70, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Euripides, Melbourne
3 Dec 2015: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, 70, 24th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli, On December 3 1915 Hugh McNIDDER was wounded (a bomb wound to the eye), a contused eye from a shell blast. On December 11 1915 he was admitted to AGH at Heliopolis Egypt, a suburb of Cairo, and on January 20 shipped home to Australia on HS 'Karoola' sailing from Suez. The ship reached Melbourne on February 21 1915. He was discharged medically unfit on July 2 1916 having lost an eye

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Biography contributed by Mick MILLER


Hugh Montgomery McNidder served in the 24th battalion 6th brigade AIF being sent to Gallipoli in August 1915. He had enlisted at Wonthaggi on March 24 1915, he was then 33 years and eight months old. This was much older than most of those enlisting.

 

He had sailed from Melbourne on May 3 to Egypt. In August the Army brought in reinforcement and launched an offensive to dislodge the Turks.

 

The 24th battalion was sent to Lone Pine where fierce battles were fought. He was promoted to corporal on September 10 1915.

 

Having visited Gallipoli with my wife on August 1 2007 we visited Lone Pine on a very hot day and its war cemetery.

 

We saw at nearby Johnsons Jolly that the trenches were only eight metres apart.

 

In the battle at Lone Pine it was a very hot summer and the Australians tunnelled under 'no man's land' and blew up the Turkish trenches.

 

Hugh was a Corporal in a Pioneer section and with his experience as a coal miner he most likely would have been in that action, digging the tunnels.

 

On December 3 1915 he was wounded (a bomb wound to the eye), a contused eye from a shell blast. On December 11 1915 he was admitted to AGH at Heliopolis Egypt, a suburb of Cairo, and on January 20 shipped home to Australia on HS 'Karoola' sailing from Suez. The ship reached Melbourne on February 21 1915. He was discharged medically unfit on July 25 1916.

 

Hugh was granted a pension of three pound eight shillings per fortnight from July 25 1915 and his wife Mary Ann a pension of one pound.

 

He lost an eye and later wore a false eye. He was wounded only two weeks before the general evacuation of all troops occurred. His wife received a telegram on Christmas Eve to say he had been injured.

 

The ANZAC troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli on December 17/18.

 

Back in Australia Hugh was retrained as a Post Master and assigned to Harrow from about 1918 until he died in July 1943

 

Prior to the war he was in Wonthaggi working in the State coal mine. He was studying for a mine manager's certificate at the Wonthaggi School of Mines.

 

Hugh was born in Stromness Orkney islands at the top of Scotland in July 1881. His father was a marine engineer and stationed there at the time. Later the family moved to Dundee. Hugh was sent to sea when he was 12 or 14. He had sailed around Cape Horn and records show Hugh landing at Sydney from the SS Errol in 1900.

 

Hugh was living in Wonthaggi in 1912 when he married MaryAnn Hart Stevens (originally from the Ararat and Maroona area) at St Johns Church Camberwell on January 1 1912. Hugh was well respected by the community for the help and assistance he provided. He would sleep at the telephone switch board with a blanket around him if someone was gravely ill, in case they needed a doctor or other service and made many anonymous donations of books to the Mechanics Institute library

 

The following is a letter Hugh wrote to a Mrs Lynch whose son Pat had been in Hugh's section and was killed at Gallipoli. It is from Merrin Crescent Wonthaggi where Hugh lived and is dated December 1 1916

 

Dear Mrs Lynch

 

Your letter of November 23rd to hand and it causes me a great deal of pain not only because of the contents, but because of the remembrances it brought back. Mrs King told you correctly about my knowing Pat and I can say with all sincerity it was a pleasure to know him. He was as you say a good boy and we all liked him. He was what we called a 'white man' and was always looking out for someone to help. He would give everything he had if another wanted. What I am about to say Mrs Lynch is not flattery nor is it because you are Pat's mother, but it is easily understood why he was such a noble character. He has copied his mother and inherited from you his thought of others. Your letter to me shows all this and it gives me a greater pleasure to have known him. Now Mrs Lynch you will be getting tired of all this so I will get onto the chief point. Pat was in my section over on Gallipoli (I was a corporal) when I say section let me be explicit. There are two sections; platoon section and a firing section. A platoon section consists of 13 men and NCO and a firing section consists of 6 men and NCO. Pat was in my platoon section but was in the firing section under Corporal Geddes who was killed at the same time. As you have heard it was a bomb accident and a sad one at that. This party was in the front trench (about six yards from the enemy) and while one (not Pat) was throwing a bomb it exploded. Pat and two others were killed instantly and two others severely wounded, one died on the way to hospital, the other I did not hear anymore about. I was not on the spot when it happened, nor could leave my post to go and see them. The three were buried in a cemetery in a place called Browns Dip (behind Lone Pine) and their graves are no doubt well looked after according to good reports. Dear Mrs Lynch I have tried to fulfil your wish in as few words as possible because it causes undue harm to prolong an account of this sort. I sincerely sympathize with you in your great loss and earnestly pray heavenly Father to sustain and help you. God knows why this suffering is taking place and why this dreadful war is raging and it behoves us one and all to ask that his will not our own be done. You ask me about Bill Norman and Jim Sutherland, they were all well as far as I can remember when I left Gallipoli. At least they were both in Egypt while I was in the hospital. It has given me pain to have to answer your letter about Pat but it has given me pleasure that it has been in my power to help you. Asking God to help you and to find in Christ our help and comfort.

 

I remain yours in sincere sympathy

 

H.M.McNidder

 

PS. If I can help you I shall gladly do so H.M.McN.

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