Harold Stuart HOOD

Poppy

HOOD, Harold Stuart

Service Number: 4646
Enlisted: 8 July 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 6th Infantry Battalion
Born: Huntly, Victoria, Australia, 1897
Home Town: Glen Huntly, Glen Eira, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Pozières, France, 18 August 1916
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
No known grave
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France), White Hills Arch of Triumph, White Hills Baptist Church
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World War 1 Service

8 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4646, Melbourne, Victoria
28 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4646, 6th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
28 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4646, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
18 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4646, 6th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

Help us honour Harold Stuart Hood's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Harold Stuart Hood    SN 4646

Harold Hood was born in Huntly, a small rural community, seven miles north of Bendigo. He enlisted on July 8, 1915 in Melbourne joining the 14th Reinforcements for the 6th Battalion.  At the time of enlisting, Harold lists his family address as c/o of White Hills as this would possibly have been the nearest Post Office to Huntly at the time. 

Harold is just 18 years old and is required to provide a letter from both parents consenting to his enlistment. His parent’s hand written letters are kept on Harold’s military record with his father William Hood stating -                                                                  

Defence Department                                                                

Sir’s,                                                                                            

I do herby give my full consent to my son Harold offering his    services to King and Country and I’m proud of the fact.                    

Yours truly,                                                                              

W’m Hood July 7, 1915

It is not known why Harold would enlist in Melbourne rather than in Bendigo, however, two other White Hills boys, George Every and Charles Fasham would also enlist for the 6th Battalion in the following weeks. All three would travel to war together. 

The 6th Battalion was recruited from Victoria, drawing from Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs to the north. The battalion had earlier taken part in the landing at Anzac Cove and were desperately digging in on the cliffs of the Gallipoli peninsula when Harold signed on in July 1915.

Harold and his fellow recruits would have been expecting to join the 6th in this theatre of war, however by the time he would leave Australia all of the AIF troops had been withdrawn from the Gallipoli peninsula to regroup and rebuild battalion strength in the Egypt. Harold would embark from Port Melbourne on HMAT Themistocles on February 28, 1916 landing in Alexandria, Egypt to join the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in late March.

Another sea journey would have Harold disembarking in Marsailles, Southern France on April 14, 1916 and from here he and other new recruits would commence a long slow train journey through the heart of France, arriving at the AIF depot in Estaples, Northern France on June 16.

Harold would be TOS ‘Taken on strength’ and join the fighting with his fellow reinforcements in the 6th Battalion at the terrible battle for Pozieres, in northern France in July and August 1916.  

The Australian official historian Charles Bean wrote that Pozières ridge "is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth."

The Battle of Pozières took place over seven weeks during July and August 1916. Pozières, a small village in the Somme valley in France, was the scene of bitter and costly fighting for the 1st, 2nd and 4th Australian Divisions. By the end of the battle on September 3, 1916, the three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties. Of this, 6800 were killed or died of wounds. Australian losses at Pozières were comparable with the casualties sustained by the AIF in eight months at Gallipoli.

(Source -http://www.defence.gov.au/Publications/NewsPapers/Army/editions/1379/1379b.pdf)

Harold would be one of these casualties, killed in action on August 18, 1916.

In a transcript of letters to his family, 1915-1918 Corporal Arthur Thomas also of the 6th Battalions describes the action for the battalion on August 18, 1916.

“My experiences of the past 36 hours are beyond my imaginations, death and suffering and fortitude of the human being; the whole tragic horror, men are praying hard, for the end of life for most of us is probably near.

- Last night at ten o’clock, we marched out to the front line, four hundred strong, the trenches were simply great shell holes with the occasional bit of trench left, the Germans had shelled it away. However, it was decided to go out five hundred yards and make a new trench, that meant out in the open, and the shells were falling thick and heavy. Casualties soon commenced …… “

(Source - AWM- Transcript of letters from Arthur Thomas to his family, 1915-1918 Thomas, Arthur G (Corporal, 6th Bn d: 1918) https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2081257 )

It took some weeks for the news of Harold’s death to reach his parents. Since his enlistment, they had shifted from Huntley and were now living in Glen Huntly, a Melbourne suburb. Despite this change of address being recorded whilst he was transitioning through Cairo, communication of Harold’s death was passed on via Ministers of Methodist Church initially in White Hills to a Reverend Hooper of Carnegie who had the sad duty to pass on this news to William and Louisa Hood. (see telegram in Harold’s military transcript)    

William and Louisa Hood would be told only that Harold was killed in the field and that his buriel place was 'not yet to hand.' Along with thousands of other soldiers on the Somme battlefileds during these fiece battles no remains could be retrieved and  after the war, his name is inscribed on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France.

At the anniversary of Harold's death a year later on August 18, 1917, the family would insert the following memorial to their loved son in the Bendigo Independent newspaper -    

 'Somewhere in France he is laying,                                                  

He answered his country's call,                                                        

He died an Australian hero                                                        

Fighting to save us all'  - Inserted by his loving Father, Mother, sisters and brothers.

Harold’s younger brother Private (Pte) Oliver Richard Hood, SN   6786 , a 20 year old window cleaner from Glenhuntly, Victoria enlisted in the AIF on 15 July 1916, just a month before Harold was killed. He initially joined the 6th Battalion probably hoping to be reunited with his older brother.  Oliver embarked for overseas with the 22nd Reinforcements from Melbourne on 25 October 1916 aboard HMAT Ulysses and joined the 37th Battalion in France on 15 June 1917. Oliver was wounded in action on 9 August 1918 but rejoined his unit the next day. On 30 August 1918 he was killed in action at Clery Wood, France and was buried in the wood. After the war, his grave could not be located so his name is inscribed on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France along with his older brother Harold and many thousands of others, who have no known grave.

Source – AWM https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1486914

Private Harold Stuart Hood is remembered by the people of White Hills and Huntly. The names of the local lads who sacrificed their lives and those that were fortunate to return from the Great War are shown on the embossed copper plaques on the White Hills Arch of Triumph, at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens.

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