Hugh John CONNELL DSO, MC and Bar, MID*

CONNELL, Hugh John

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 31 March 1916
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 35th Infantry Battalion
Born: Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 12 June 1884
Home Town: Hamilton, Newcastle, New South Wales
Schooling: Woollahra and Paddington Public schools, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: School teacher
Died: Heart Disease, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, 31 January 1934, aged 49 years
Cemetery: Sandgate General Cemetery, Newcastle, NSW
Memorials: Adamstown Methodist Church Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

31 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Officer, 35th Infantry Battalion
1 May 1916: Embarked Captain, 35th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Sydney
1 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 35th Infantry Battalion
1 May 1916: Involvement Captain, 35th Infantry Battalion
27 Jul 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Captain, 35th Infantry Battalion, Battle of Messines, GSW to back and abdomen Awarded MC for this action
20 Dec 1917: Honoured Military Cross, Battle of Messines, For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. His fine leading and continuous display of personal courage during our offensive inspired all who came in contact with him, and during a reconnaissance of assembly trenches he showed great coolness and determination in carrying out the work and getting through with his party when others had failed.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 219 Date: 20 December 1917
18 Apr 1918: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, 'London Gazette', second Supplement, No. 30448 (28 December 1917); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 57 (18 April 1918).
23 May 1918: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, Awarded, and promulgated, 'London Gazette' No. 31089 (31 December 1918); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61 (23 May 1919).
1 Jun 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 35th Infantry Battalion
27 Nov 1918: Honoured Military Cross and bar, German Spring Offensive 1918, For resisting the German assault of 4 April on Villers Bretonneax. 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while acting as staff officer during an enemy attack. Several times he personally reconnoitred the ground under heavy fire and ascertained the position. During a critical period he collected stragglers and delayed the enemy's advance until a counter attack could be launched.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 185, Date: 27 November 1918
23 May 1919: Honoured Companion of the Distinguished Service Order, For continuous acts of courage at Accroche Wood, Bray and Clery. Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61 Date: 23 May 1919
14 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Major, 35th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Gary Mitchell, Sandgate Cemetery
A True Hero of the 1st A.I.F., resting peacefully at Sandgate Cemetery.

87 years ago today, on the Thursday afternoon of the 1st February 1934, Major Hugh John Connell (D.S.O., M.C. and Bar., M.I.D.), 35th Battalion, soldier, school teacher and politician, father of two (Mary and Mollie), of Gosford Road, Hamilton West, New South Wales and 25 Charlestown Road, Adamstown, N.S.W., was laid to rest at Sandgate Cemetery, age 49. METHODIST 4-05. 16.

Born at Waverley, New South Wales on the 12th June 1884 to Hugh and Jessie Connell nee Blumer; husband of Mary Elizabeth Connell nee Woods (married 28.12.1910, Broken Hill, N.S.W., died?), Hugh enlisted March 1916 at Sydney, N.S.W.
Wounded in Action - 27 July 1917 (severe gunshot wound, back and abdomen, severe), Hugh returned home May 1919, being discharged on the 14th August 1919.

Mr Connell’s name has been inscribed on the Adamstown Citizens' Memorial, Adamstown Methodist Church Honour Roll, Wickham Superior Public School Roll of Honour, Public School Teachers who Served Abroad World War 1 Honour Roll and The Capt. Clarence Smith Jeffries (V.C.) and Pte. William Matthew Currey (V.C.) Memorial Wall.

For his exemplary courage and determination during the German assault of 4 April 1918 he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.

He was promoted Major in June 1918 and awarded the Distinguished Service Order. Twice mentioned in despatches.

Australian Labor Party Member for Newcastle and Kahibah until 1930, from then on he represented Hamilton until his death.

He made a name for himself as a quick thinker, a keen debater and a hater of hypocrisy.

Many thanks to Ed Tonks for the photo of Hugh’s medals and the following information.

DSO, MC and Bar, Great War service medals with MID oak leaf awarded to H.J. Connell, one of the Hunter's most decorated officers. I photographed these medals on 8 June 1991 at a collector's home in Western Sydney. He has subsequently passed away and I don't know where they are now. At least we have a record. H.J.Connell was a most interesting person-teacher, soldier and politician. His name appears on a number of local War Memorials including Adamstown, Adamstown Methodist Church, Wickham Superior School. Connell Park in Adamstown is named in his honour.

Service record states Died after Discharge 31/1/1934.
Plaque in New South Wales Garden of Remembrance.
Lest We Forget.