Herbert Hermann HEUZENROEDER

Badge Number: S15610, Sub Branch: Cadell

HEUZENROEDER , Herbert Hermann

Service Number: 2677
Enlisted: 23 August 1915, Adelaide South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Tanunda, South Australia, 13 October 1883
Home Town: Tanunda, Barossa, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College
Occupation: Cellarman and 'snake charmer'
Died: Natural Causes, Daw Park, South Australia, 6 February 1967, aged 83 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Died in the Repat Hospital
Memorials: Hackney St Peter's College Honour Board, Tanunda Roll of Honor
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

23 Aug 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2677, 27th Infantry Battalion,

embarkation_roll: roll_number: 15 embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Benalla embarkation_ship_number: A24 public_note: Incorrectly recorded on original roll as Herbert H Henzenroeder

23 Aug 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2677, 27th Infantry Battalion
23 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2677, 27th Infantry Battalion, Adelaide South Australia Australia
27 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, ,HMAT Benalla A24
7 Sep 1917: Discharged AIF WW1
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

The Heuzenroeder brothers

There were three 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.

Showing 1 of 1 story


Surname: HEUZENROEDER; Given Names: Herbert Hermann; Date of Birth: 13 October 1883; Date of Enlistment: 23 August 1915; Trade or Calling: Cellarman (according to the donor of the photograph)  Herbert described himself as a "Snake Charmer" on his enlistment documents.; Birth Location: Tanunda; Address prior to enlistment: Tanunda; Photograph sent by: Mrs Peter McPherson

His parents were Johann Theodor HEUZENROEDER and Mathilde Louise Martha nee FIEDLER. Spelling from Cemetery Details "HEUZENROEDER"

Herbert was one of three brothers who enlisted for service in WW1.  As was occasionally the case, clerical error has impinged on the process of trying to connect the various family members with the spelling "HENZENROOEDER" having found its way onto the Embarkation Roll.

While originally from Broken Hill, the brothers were living in a number of locations around SA.   Herbert was living in Tanunda in the Barossa Valley.  Two of the brothers confusingly had the same initials, Hermann Hugo being the other.  There was nearly 16 years difference in age between Herbert and his younger brother Herman.  Some records confuse or blend the two.  Another brother Gerhard Leopold also enlisted.  All three of the brothers were renowned as crack rifle shots.

Prior to the war Herbert had achieved some notoriety as a "snake charmer", although the donor of the photograph, presumed to be his sister, described him as a 'cellar hand' on the caption accompanying the photograph sent to State Records.  It was clear where Herbert's heart was though.  Prior to he war he had been putting on public displays of reptile handling.  One of these in 1913 in Port Pirie nearly ended in disaster.  Part of his display invovled putting a snake's head in his mouth which, as this incident so vivdly demonstrated, was not without risk. As reported in the local paper, at Port Pirie he was bitten on the tongue by a tiger snake. (see the Trove link adjacent).  Fortunately on that occasion there was indeed a 'doctor in the house' who managed to save him.  

Herbert, according to anecdote, was concerned that the poor state of his teeth might be a barrier to his enlistment.  Poor dental health was a major issue among the general population in the early 20th century.  Accordingly he and his brother are said to have taken dog biscuits with them in order to demonstrate to the medical officer that their teeth were robust enough for soldiering.

Herbert was also tall - at over 6 feet (180cm) he would have stood out in the ranks at that time when the average height was some 10cm shorter.

Herbert was enlisted into the 9th Reinforcements of the 27th Battalion.  His younger brother Herman Hugo enlisted into the 10th Battalion where he in due course became a sniper.  Herman was to die plying his deadly trade at Pozieres.  

However, in Herbert's case, his teeth were eventually his downfall as a soldier, but perhaps they served to save his life by removing him from danger when he was repatriated home in 1917.

Herbert suffered recurring dental problems after arriving in Egypt and subsequently in France.  The extent of his problems culminated in his being returned to Australia and discharged medically unfit in mid 1917.

Pre and post war there is much evidence of  Herbert Heuzenroeder having gained further fame as a snake handler  / charmer throughout the Riverland and mid north, and a member of the R.A.O.B. lodge.  These articles point to the fact that after the war he took up a soldier settlement block in the Riverland but his inate skill as a snake handler won him a career as the curator of a snake park at Renmark in 1927.

He was also in charge of a snake collection in Adelaide.  When he retired from that role it transpired that his successor was fatally bitten, reinforcing the ever-present risk associated with his 'calling'.

He later returned to Tanunda where he lived out the remainder of his life.  He lived alone in a house off the Marananga road to Seppeltsfield not far from where Heritage Wines are located these days.  It was something of a local attraction Nearby is the Venom Supplies snake anti-venene laboratory where antidotes to a range of snakle bites are prepared.  It is tantalising to speculate  that "Heutz" as he was fondly known may have had just more than a passing influence on its siting in the Barossa.  Many of his personal effects are today in the hands of Steve Hoff, proprietor of Heritage Wines who recalls "Heutz" being a great friend of his father's and a crack shot who taught Steve to shoot.

Herb died at the Repat Hospital at Daw Park in 1967. He had a leg amputated during the course of his treatment but never lost his good humour and kept staff and inmates entertained with stories of his snake handling exploits.


1914/15 Star: 4839

British War Medal: 10460

Victory Medal: 10390