Joseph Bell HAMILTON


HAMILTON, Joseph Bell

Service Number: 506
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Not yet discovered
Home Town: Corryong, Towong, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Killed In Action, France, 24 June 1916, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Ration Farm Military Cemetery, la Chapelle-D'Armentieres
Ration Farm Military Cemetery, La Chapelle-D'armentieres, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Corryong War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

10 May 1915: Involvement Private, SN 506, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked Private, SN 506, 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne

Joseph Bell Hamilton

HAMILTON Joseph Bell

War diary extract for the 22nd Battalion, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, 24th of June, 1916.
“Stand To” – 3.15am, “Stand Down” 4.14am. Our artillery active thoughout the day – chiefly registering. Enemy’s artillery quiet through the day. Opened a brisk fire in Right Coy Trench 59 at 10.15pm, lasting about 10 minutes with H.E (high explosive) and shrap. (shrapnel).
“Stand To” – 9.15 pm. “Carry on in stand down” – 9.45 pm.
Casualties – 2 O.R. killed, 2 O.R wounded.

One of the O.R (other ranks) killed that night was Private Joseph Bell Hamilton (Service number 506), age 24, of Corryong, Victoria. Private Hamilton was part of B Company, 22nd Battalion, operating in the Pozieres section of the Western Front. In March of 1916, the 22nd Battalion had embarked from Egypt for France and experienced their first week of service on the Western Front in reserve breastwork trenches near Fleurbaix at the end of the first week of April 1916. The Battalion’s first major action was at Pozieres, part of the massive British offensive on the Somme.

Twenty-four years before these events, Joseph Bell Hamilton was born to Allan Leach and Mary Elizabeth (nee Bell) Hamilton of Corryong. Joseph would be one of ten children born between 1877 and 1900.

Twenty-three years later, on the 13th March 1915, Joseph, a labourer, enlisted in the AIF. His enlistment details show a young man in his prime; 11 stone in weight (70 kg), 5 foot 7 and a half inches tall (170 cm), with blue eyes and dark brown hair. In May of that year, following training at Broadmeadows near Melbourne, Joseph embarked with the 22nd Battalion aboard HMAT A38 Ulysses. Embarkation records show that he travelled on the Ulysses with at least two other men from Corryong; Ernest Frederick Harris and Harold Hugh Thomas Harris.

His Battalion arrived in Alexandra, Egypt, on the 30th August 1915 and proceeded to Gallipoli a few days later on the 3rd September. His service records indicate that he was hospitalised for a period after this date, although there are no details of the reason why. On the 12th December, he rejoined his unit on the Gallipoli Peninsula, spending some time on operations between the Chessboard and Johnston’s Jolly (less than a kilometre from where Private Harold Lennox was killed at Lone Pine, four months previous). Fifteen days later he was part of the successful withdrawal of all Australian forces from Gallipoli. It would be another four months before his unit arrived in France.

Arriving in Egypt, he was attached to the APM (Australian Provost Marshal or Military Police) of the 2nd Divisional Headquarters. Whilst at Moascar, a camp near the Suez Canal, he was found guilty of breaking out of ranks while on the line of march and awarded 48 hours field punishment No. 2. Field punishment No. 2 consisted of placing the prisoner in fetters and handcuffs while he remained with his unit.

On the 19th March 1916 the 22nd Battalion embarked on the RMS Llandovery Castle at Alexandria in Egypt in order to join the BEF (British Expeditionary Forces) in France. Seven days later Joseph and his unit disembarked at the Port of Marseilles on the Mediterranean coast of France.

Over the next few days, Joseph would travel by train through the French countryside. On the 5th April, the Battalion was billeted in the Sailly area undergoing foot inspections, baths and physical instruction. Two days later he arrived in the Fleurbaix area where the 22nd Battalion was carrying out its first relief in France, taking over the Reserve line from the 11th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. After six days in reserve, the Battalion relieved the 21st Battalion in the front line.

Only three days later Joseph was hospitalised at the 7th Field Ambulance, which was located at Fort Rompu in France, with a case of the mumps. On the 12th May, just over one year after having enlisted, he rejoined his unit just as they were being deployed in the Pozieres sector. Here the 6th Brigade went into reserve and the Battalion into billets and huts near Erquinghem, then a pleasant and practically undamaged village though still close to the front line. The Battalion remained there for six weeks training, conducting fatigues including laying of wiring and digging of reserve lines. Steel helmets and box respirators were not plentiful at first, but in May the Battalion received additional supplies of these vital pieces of protective equipment.

During the evening of the 10th June, the 22nd Battalion relieved the 28th Battalion in the Bois Grenier reserve line, remaining there for a week before moving to the Rue du Bois salient. In the reserve line, the Battalion supplied working parties for defence work, cable laying, carrying stores etc to the front line at night.
On the 20th June, the 22nd Battalion relieved the 23rd Battalion in the firing line in the Rue du Bois salient. The salient was subject to both enfilade and frontal fire, and B Company that held it suffered half of the heavy casualties resulting from this tour of front line duty. The shelling was heavy on both sides, including the use of aerial torpedoes and Minenwerfers by the Germans.
Two days later, on the 24th of June, in the engagement described in the Battalion’s war diary, Joseph was killed in action. He was buried in the Ration Farm Cemetery, 1 and a half miles south of the town of Armentieres.

For his service during the First World War, Joseph was awarded the 1914-15 Star, The British War medal and the Victory Medal.

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