Walter Charles Douglas TREGONNING

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TREGONNING, Walter Charles Douglas

Service Numbers: 1899, 1899A
Enlisted: 20 September 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 5th Divisional Ammunition Column
Born: Norwood, South Australia, 11 November 1893
Home Town: Norwood (SA), South Australia
Schooling: Wellington Road Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Green Grocer
Died: Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis, Rouen, France, 25 January 1917, aged 23 years
Cemetery: St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Burra District WW1 Honor Roll, Burra Fallen Soldiers Memorial, Farrell Flat Memorial Hall
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World War 1 Service

20 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1899, Adelaide, South Australia
11 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1899, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
11 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1899, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Borda, Adelaide
21 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Gunner, 5th Divisional Ammunition Column
15 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Driver, 5th Divisional Ammunition Column
25 Jan 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Driver, SN 1899A, 5th Divisional Ammunition Column

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Biography

Walter Charles Douglas Tregonning

Walter Tregonning was born on 11th November, 1893 in Norwood, South Australia. Tregonning was the eldest son born to Minnie Tregonning (nee Toy) and Walter Tregonning. His siblings were Ida (b.20/9/1891), Mabel (b.3/9/1895), Joseph (30/4/1899) and Asenath (b.28/12/1901). Raised at 13 Annesley Avenue, North Norwood, Tregonning was successfully educated at Wellington Road Public School, North Norwood. Upon leaving school he was employed by Mr G.A. Randle, a dentist in the city and was subsequently a greengrocer and fruiterer. In 1914 he was an active member of the Young Men’s Christian Band affiliated with the Norwood Wesley Church (NAA, 2016; AWM, 2016).

Tregonning enlisted at Adelaide in the Australian Imperial Force (“AIF”) on 2nd September, 1915 and swore to serve the King until the end of the war and for a further period of four months unless lawfully discharged sooner. At the time of his enrolment Tregonning was 21 years and 10 months of age, was approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, a greengrocer, single and his religious denomination was   Methodist. Whilst the Nominal Roll of the Australian Imperial Force records his address at Annesley Avenue, North Norwood and next of kin information also have the same address and note Tregonning was chiefly connected with the town of North Norwood, the Commonwealth of Australia, Roll of Electors for the subdivision of Irwin, records Tregonning’s address as Morawa via Mingenew which is near Burra for the period 1914-17 (AWM, 2016; Carnamah, 2016). His occupation was noted as famer on the Roll of Electors, presumably related to his occupation noted on his war records as greengrocer/fruiterer.

Upon enlisting on the 2nd of September 1915 in Norwood Adelaide, Tregonning was appointed to the F Company, 2nd Depot Battalion, AIF, entering training camp prior to leaving Australia on 20 September, 1915 in the rank of private.  He was then transferred to the 1st Light Horse Brigade, 3rd Light Horse Regiment, 13th Reinforcements (Base Light Horse) on 1 October,1915 and subsequently allotted to the 13/3 Light Horse Division on 1 November,1915. On 11 January, 1916, Tregonning embarked from Adelaide with his regiment, the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, Reinforcement Borda Group on board HMAT A30 Borda to Egypt. The regiment formed part of the 1st Light Horse Brigade and Tregonning’s service number at that stage was recorded as 1899 (AWM, 2016; NAA 2016). Whilst a private, the more appropriate name attached to Tregonning as part of the Light Horsemen was Trooper Tregonning and he served his regiment until 21 April, 1916(Fuss, Satchell, 2003).

On 21 April, 1916 Tregonning was transferred to the 5th Divisional Artillery. The 5th Australian Division had begun to form in Egypt in February 1916, after a decision to expand or duplicate the original AIF which had now withdrawn from Gallipoli (www.1914-1918.net/5ausdiv.htm). Each Division had an Ammunition Column and the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column was formed on 16 March 1916 but no diaries existed for April, May and June 1916. Delays in assembling the artillery meant that the division could not depart for France before June 1916. Tregonning was transferred to the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column and mustered Gunner on 28 April,1916  He sought to become an artilleryman ,so as to see active service on the Western Front.  On 15 May 1916 he was posted to no 2 Section of the 5th Divisional Ammunition Column and on 26 May 1916 he was appointed Driver. On 18 June 1916 he proceeded with his Division on the HMT ship “Knight Templar” from Alexandria, Egypt disembarking on 25th June 1916 at Marseilles, France. On 28th August 1916 Tregonning’s regimental number was altered to 1899A (NAA, 2016; AWM, 2016).       

The Ammunition Column played a critical role in keeping ammunition up to the guns by transferring it from “Third Line” storage up to the Front (“First Line”). The risk to self was high as trying to cut off ammunition supplies to the Front Line was a priority target for the enemy (RSL, 2016). War Diaries retained of the 5th Australian Divisional Ammunition Column reveal from July, 1916 the section Tregonning was attached moved from Havre and joined up with other sections in Lynde proceeding to Le Kelrin equipping as they went and then supplying at Lupinette, ammunition for operations (AWM, 2016). It was noted that Tregonning In his role as Driver, carted shells with mule teams through slush and mud, and when the season changed he drove his team through frozen mud, ice and snow, with little or no complaining (Trove, 1917). 

It would appear that he continued to do this until in or around 5th January, 1917 when he fell ill in the field in France and was hospitalised. He was transferred to the 25th Stationary Hospital, Rouen, France on the 9th of January 1917. There he became dangerously ill and died on 25th of January 1917 from cerebrospinal meningitis. His death was recorded in the 5th Australian Divisional Ammunition Column War Diary entry for February, 1917 (NAA, 2016).

Driver Tregonning was buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France. From his service records he was awarded the British War Medal (No28993) and the Victory Medal (No 28812). His name is recorded in memorial at the Adelaide 1 National War Memorial; the Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour (located no.21 in the Commemorative area) and the Honour Board for the Burra HB1 District WW 1 (NAA, 2016).  

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. This name represents the ideals and beliefs that Australia, a new nation, held close to their hearts as they fought proudly side by side with the New Zealanders in a war that could potentially shape the world. Charles Bean, the Australian historian present on the Western Front noted the qualities that the ANZAC spirit ‘… stood, and still stands for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat.’ (Bean 1946) The ANZAC spirit encapsulates the need for justice, freedom and peace and was reflected so well at Gallipoli through deeds of courage, mateship, heroism and selfless service when faced with the conditions of war.  Walter Charles Douglas Tregonning was the true embodiment of the ANZAC spirit. He bravely showed his spirit by fighting selflessly for his country and weathered unimaginable and hazardous conditions to carry out his duties that undoubtedly led to his death from disease. It is only right that we remember his service and ultimate sacrifice for his country.

"THE LATE DRIVER W. C. D. TREGONNING

Driver W. C. D. Tregonning, who died in France on July 25, was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. W. Tregonning, of Annesley-avenue, North Norwood, where he was born on November 11, 1893. He received his early education at Wellington-road school, North Norwood, where he had a successful career. After leaving school he was in the employ of Mr. G. A. Handle, dentist, of the city, and later went into business as a greengrocer and fruiterer. Three years ago he was an active member of the Young Men's Christian Band in connection with the Norwood Wesley Church. He was a member of the 13th Reinforcements of the 3rd Light Horse. He went into camp on September 20, 1915, and left these shores on January 11, 1916. He spent some months in Egypt, where he became an artilleryman, so as to see active service on the western front. Driver Tregonning arrived in France in July. He carted shells with mule teams through slush and mud, and when the season changed he drove his team over the frozen mud, ice, and snow, with little or no complaining, until overtaken by meningitis. He nobly did his duty for King and country." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 17 Feb 1917 (nla.gov.au)

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