Tuesday 24 April 2012

ANZAC Day Blog Challenge

As luck would have it, this month I have been working on the A-Z challenge and have pursued the theme of Australia. You can read the posts via this tag line. It therefore seems absolutely right that I take part again in the ANZAC Day challenge and you can read last year's post for ANZAC Day HERE which is about a descendant of the Ellis family who appear in my A-Z challenge!

This year the focus is on another descendant of the same family, Henri Wilhelm Erickson who was the son of Carl Erickson and Wilhelmina nee Ellis. The National Archives of Australia has a copy of Henri's enlistment papers & military record. You can read the 60 page document HERE.

Up until now, I have done very little research into the descendants of the Ellis pioneer who migrated to Australia in 1854. Reading the document is very sobering and I instantly felt a sense of sympathy for Henri and Winifred, his wife who became his widow.

Henri enlisted on 18th March 1916 and joined the Australian Imperial Force, serving in the 23rd Battalion. He sailed from Melbourne on board HMAT Armadale on 19th July 1916 and arrived in Plymouth Devon on 20th September 1916.

The first page of his Military record reveals his father was born in Finland Russia and was Naturalised in around 1876. I was intrigued by this. Further reading of the file and looking at the Naturalisation records held by National Archives of Australia revealed exactly where Henri's father came from, and when, in addition to his Naturalisation, but that is another story!

It is clear from almost the beginning Henri was not well and suffered from stomach complaints; probably due to sanitation issues.  In addition he experienced shell shock and concussion. The following two pages are his casualty clearing form. It makes very sad reading. Even before I reached the final line on the second page I knew that Henri had not survived the War. In fact, the sadness is quite overwhelming.

Continued reading of Henri's military files shows that somehow, in the midst of the chaos of the First World War battlefields, his kit bag was lost. This must have caused some further distress to Winifred,whose letters asking if the bag had been recovered appear in the file. There is no mention if it ever was recovered, I would like to think so, but suspect not.

A search of the Australian War Memorial reveals the Nominal Roll for Henri. The document shows his address, next of kin with details of his rank and pay rates. His name appears on the 99th Panel on the Roll of Honor and on the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate).


  1. Anonymous9:38 pm

    Terribly, terribly sad, I have visited Anzac and posted about it on my blog. An incredibly moving place.

  2. Thanks so much for contributing again to our Anzac Day Blog Challenge. Great that you have these documents.Great blog!

  3. How sad for him and his family. I can't imagine the noise and chaos of the war and the constant assault on the senses.I think the pathos of the letters as family try to learn more, or get some small item by which they can remember their loved one, is so incredibly sad.

  4. Now the log-jam at NAA has cleared I'm looking at the file. What a sad story! Don't you feel for the family members who just want some tiny memento, little realising (thanks to censorship) how destructive the situation actually was.


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