Victorian Association of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Incorporated

Founding Member General Sir John Monash GCMG KCB VD

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Surname
Ansell
First names
Herbert Abraham
Rank
2nd Lieutenant
Service No.
Date of Death
23/10/1916
Hebrew Date
26 Tishrei 5677
Hebrew Date
כ״ו בְּתִשְׁרֵי תרע״ז
Age at Death
36
How Died
Killed in Action
Where Died
Ligny-Thilloy, Somme, France
Cemetery
AIF Burial Ground, Flers, France
Service Details
8th Australian Machine Gun Company, AIF
Served
Western Front
Occupation
Clerk as Secretary
Age at Enlistment
37
Place of Enlistment
Melbourne, Victoria
Locality on Enlistment
St Kilda, Victoria
Religion
Jewish
Gender
Male
Date of Enlistment
7/7/1915
Date of Discharge
Country of Enlistment
Australia
Notes
Herbert Ansell was the son of Jewish couple, Henry ANSELL & Hannah née COHEN and was born on I October 1878 in Hobart Tasmania. Herbert was dux at Hutchins School in Hobart and continued his education at the University of Tasmania. By early 1915 he was employed by the Vacuum Oil Company in Melbourne as Assistant Manager, handling Government Defence contracts. But Herbert felt bound to fight for his country. On 7 July 1915, he enlisted in the AIF. Herbert was a candidate for officer training. He went to Seymour No 3 Officer Training School (OTS) and later he attended No 5 OTS, and the Port Melbourne musketry school. On completing these courses, he was appointment 2nd Lieutenant on 17 January 1916. Herbert joined the 29th Battalion 5th Reinforcements at Broadmeadows. On 14 March 1916, Herbert boarded the HMAT A68 Anchises at Port Melbourne bound for Egypt. He arrived at Suez on 14 April, before moving on to England. In England, he went to Camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. On 28 May Herbert transferred to the Cyclist Battalion and remained with this unit until 6 August. He re-joined the 29th Battalion on 28 August. Four weeks later, he and the other men of the 5th reinforcements were in France awaiting deployment. On 24 September 1916, Herbert again transferred, this time to the 8th Australian Machine Gun Company. The 8th Machine Gun Coy was in the trenches in the Armentieres area and Herbert was assigned to No 4 section. Over the next couple of weeks, the company was moved around in support of operations. On 22 October Herbert moved into the front line trenches, the next day he set about organising the placement of his machine gunners. The enemy commenced a barrage of artillery fire, one of those shells exploded killing Herbert and wounding many of the gun crews. The guns were withdrawn under fire and it wasn’t until a couple of days later that Herbert’s body was recovered. He was originally buried about 2.5 miles SSW of Bapaume and his grave given a wooden marker. When the war finally ended, the Grave Registration Units located all the graves and brought order to the burials. In 1920 Herbert’s body was exhumed and reinterned at the AIF Burial Ground Cemetery near Flers, Somme, France. Herbert’s loss was deeply felt by his sister Evelyn and brother Montague. In February 1917 a small parcel arrived for Evelyn, containing Herbert’s identity disc and a small trinket, being all that had been recovered from his body. It was Evelyn who wrote the epitaph on Herbert’s grave “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die”. For his service in WW1, 2LT Herbert Abraham Ansell was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Herbert’s medals along with the King’s Memorial Scroll and Plaque were presented to his sister.
 
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