Henry Augustus Anolock
Service Number 3594
Link to Service Record: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/records/29997
Henry Augustus Anolock was born in 1896 at Rooty Hill.
Henry, who was also known as ‘Harry’, belonged to the distinguished Locke family. (See Locke Family Lineage).
On 17th July, 1917 Henry applied to join the AIF at Granville, Sydney. He was just over 20 years of age and it seems that Henry was very keen to join. He had already spent two days in the Compulsory Citizens Forces and obtained three character references for his application, one from the Executive of the Rooty Hill Branch of the ‘Win the War League’ (which can be viewed in his Service Record).
There were a number of hurdles to cross particularly for Aboriginal men as the Defence Act of 1909 prohibited enlistment of men not ‘substantially of European descent’. Also, Henry did not quite meet the physical standards required but by 1917, following the Gallipoli campaign, these standards were lowered and a huge propaganda effort was in force as recruitment numbers had fallen.
Henry’s Service Records show that he stood 5’5” with a chest measurement of 33”. His complexion ‘brown’ had been crossed out and ‘fair’ substituted instead. He had been born at Rooty Hill, and gave his occupation as ‘Tanner’. His mother Alice was deceased and his father, Augustus Henry Anolock was now living at Fern Hill Road, Katoomba. This may have been because by the turn of the century, the Aboriginal Protection Board was removing children from their families and slowly taking over the traditional Darug land. Families disbursed, many coming to The Gully in Katoomba.
Henry was recruited as a Private into the AIF at the Showground Camp in Sydney on the 30th July, 1917. He was then moved on to a training camp at Liverpool. On the 31st October Henry embarked on HMAT Euripides as part of the 10th Reinforcements of the 56th Battalion. The troops disembarked on the 26th December, 1917 at Devonport on the South West coast of England. Henry would therefore have celebrated Christmas Day with his comrades on board.
From Devonport he was sent to the 14th Battalion Training Camp at Hurdcott, Salisbury, in Wiltshire and then to Codford on the 5th March, 1918. How cold it must have been for the Australian men.
Codford, in Salibury was a large training and transfer camp for Australian and New Zealand men waiting to be transferred to France. It had also by now become a depot for returned men not fit for battle anymore. A monument to the soldiers in the form of the Rising Sun, the army cap badge, had been carved into a nearby hill in 1916. The soldiers from the 13th Training Battalion AIF were ordered to maintain the monument. It was such a difficult, muddy exercise that they named it “Misery Hill”. Codford Village has continued to remember its connection with the Anzacs and the village holds a Remembrance Ceremony each Anzac Day at 6.30 a.m. There is also a War Cemetery nearby.
It was at Codford that Henry went AWL on the 25th March, 1918 returning on the 5th April. This was referred to as a ‘crime’ on his Casualty Form and his punishment was having his pay forfeited for 17 days. This was light punishment indeed compared to the punishments for the British Soldiers.
Photos show what a cold and inhospitable place Codford was. One very funny satirical poem written in 1917 bemoans the lack of women, the endless daily orders, the presence of so much mud to say nothing of so many large rats with one soldier swearing he saw a rat trying on his great coat. The poet ends by saying he will offer a prayer for all those who have to live inside.
Henry “proceeded to France” via Folkstone on the 15th April, 1918, as part of the 56th Battalion . This Battalion had been raised in Egypt early in 1916 with half of its forces coming from the 4th Battalion which had fought at Gallipoli. The rest were made up of new recruits from Australia. It was part of the 14th Brigade, Fifth Australian Division. The Battalion had arrived in France to participate in the Western Front in 1916, its first battle being at Fromelles.
Not long after his arrival, Henry was reported ‘wounded in action’ on the 24th April, 1918. There is no other comment on his Service Record.
Heavy losses had been experienced on the Western Front where the warring armies faced each other from trench positions. Perhaps no words can ever adequately describe the conditions living and fighting in these trenches which wound their way across Belgium and eastern France. The troops sometimes lived in mud so deep that bodies could lay hidden underneath it. In the winters it was cold, wet and muddy without any privacy to sleep or wash. These unsanitary conditions including rat infestations, and the noise from the shells, took their toll.
Australian troops were issued with a tunic and trousers made of wool, a great coat and a helmet similar to the British Troops. Food was monotonous – salted tinned beef, hard tack biscuits, jam and tea. Sometimes a hot stew was available and served in old petrol tins.
When Henry arrived on the Western Front the 5th Division had moved to defend the sector around Corbie and the 14th Brigade took up positions north of Villers-Bretonneux. The 14th Brigade also helped in the capture of Peronne in September. The last war that they were engaged in was at St. Quentin Canal at the end of September through into October.
Although Henry had been taken on as an infantry soldier, he was ‘detached’ to Artillery in February, 1919. It was the job of artillery to fire long range weapons such as cannons and rockets before the attacks by the infantry were made. It also appears that he was ‘attached’ to other units during his time on the Western Front, such as the 14th Battalion and Division Headquarters. On the 25th May, 1919, the 56th Battalion was marched out for their return to Australia.
On the 28th July, 1919, Henry embarked on the transport ship, the Bakara at Devonport, England, disembarking on the 30th September, 1919 in Australia and demobilised.
Troop Ship ‘Bakara’
State Library of Victoria, Photographer Allan C. Green, 1878-1954
Meantime, his sister Edith, Mrs. J. Taylor of 3 Bligh St. Milsons Point, North Sydney, had written a letter dated the 14th September, 1919 to the Base Records Office in Melbourne, requesting information as to the date of Henry’s return to Sydney. She was anxious that someone would be there to meet Henry to let him know that his father had died three weeks before. Edith’s name had originally been written on his Application Form as next-of-kin but then crossed out and his father’s name put in instead.
A reply from Base Records dated 17th September, informed her as next of kin that Private H.A. Anolock of the 56th Battalion would be returning to Sydney on the HT Bakara due in on the 28th September. The letter included two tickets for admission to an ‘Anzac Buffet’ at the wharf where she could meet her brother. The photo below is of one such event.
Henry’s Service Records reveal further correspondence with another sister, Ethel, Mrs. Lang, of 101 Cowles Road, Mosman. Mrs. Lang had written to the Base Records Office in Melbourne, in 1934, informing them that her brother H.A. Anolock had died on the 31st December, 1933 and that he had wished her to try to obtain the three Service Medals awarded to him which he had never received. These medals were the Star, the British General Service Medal and the Victory Medal.
Following Army protocol, proof had to be obtained of next of kin before the medals could be handed over. It was not until 1944 that the medals were forwarded to Henry’s son, now a Private in the army, Private H.A. Anolock N464154, of 113 AGH, Concord West with an accompanying letter saying that the medals had been transmitted by registered post and that the three medals concerned were the highest held during the war period in that unit.