Three Hammon brothers served together during World War One

The Gold Museum holds a special collection of postcards from the Hammon brothers, revealing life on the frontline and in the camps.

Private John Henry Hammon

John (also known as Jack) was born in Ballarat in 1883.  In July 1915, a 32 year old John enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF). He was placed in the 4th Battalion, 11th Reinforcement.

Postcard from John and Tel Hammon to their sister Jessie (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0435)

Postcard from John and Harry Hammon to their sister Jessie (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0435)

His unit embarked from Sydney on board the HMAT A17 Port Lincoln, on 13 October, 1915.

After a couple of transfers within the Battalion, John embarked for Marseilles in February 1916.

John was wounded at Pozieres in 1916 and taken to St John’s Ambulance Brigade, Staples, with a gunshot wound to the left thigh and right leg. He spent nine days in hospital.

Following this incident, John was admitted into hospital twice for a gunshot wounds to the back and left thigh.

He spent a month recovering in hospital for his thigh injury. He was later detached from his duties and moved into the 1st Division of the AIF.

Tragedy struck on 23 August, 1918 when 35 year old John was killed in action. He is buried at the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, France.

In an obituary in the Argus, John’s family wrote: ‘A bright and cheery nature, duty nobly done, in that dear home, how sweet his rest’. [1]

John was decorated with the British War Medal, the Star, and the Victory medal. His family received a memorial plaque and scroll.

Corporal Harry Telford Hammon

Harry (also known as Tel) was born in Creswick on 7 June, 1892. Harry worked as a dentist in the Ballarat region prior to his enlistment in February 1916. Integrated into the 39th Battalion, Harry began his journey to France, Southampton on 23 November, 1916.

Upon his arrival to Europe, Harry and his Battalion were stationed in England’s Lark Hill Camp. Writing to his mother from Lark Hill, Harry warned that his words may cause her to ‘form some sort of idea as to the sort of camp we are in. By the wording of this, you will think it a terrible place, but it is not too bad’. [2]

Postcard from Harry to his mother, 4 August 1916 (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0448)

Postcard from Harry to his mother, 4 August 1916 (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0448)

Harry was moved from the 10th infantry back to the 39th and worked with the field ambulance from in August 1917.  On 24 March, 1918 Harry was sent to hospital, the cause unknown, and was discharged back to his unit a month later.

Harry was removed from his unit in 1918 after being caught with stolen property. He was transferred to the 98th Dental Unit where he was promoted to Corporal.

Harry often wrote home to his family back in Ballarat, particularly to his younger brother Cecil who received cigarette cards collected by the Corporal.

Harry returned to Australia in 1919. He later moved to Melbourne and passed away in 1982, aged 90.

Private Norman Coates Hammon

Norman was born in Creswick in 1894. A 20 year-old Norman worked as a grocer when he enlisted on 5 February, 1915.

Norman joined the 22nd Infantry Battalion’s D Company and embarked from Melbourne on board the HMAT A38 Ulysses.

Birthday postcard from Norman to his sister Jessie, 1916 (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0449)

Birthday postcard from Norman to his sister Jessie, 1916 (Gold Museum collection, 2011.0449)

Retaining his rank of Private, Norman was later enlisted into the 6th Machine Gun Battalion, and later the 2nd Machine Gun Company in 1918 where he was given the rank of Corporal.

Norman maintained contact with his family, especially his sister Jessie, promising to send her home a handkerchief of Egyptian silk when his money arrived.

He wrote extensively of his journeys from the Garden City in Heliopolis to Egypt. Norman wrote about the Egyptian landscapes with the legend of pharaohs being a constant theme. In a postcard home, Norman humorously begged his sister to ‘excuse [his] scribble’ [3] as he was writing on the road.

Norman fought in Egypt, Gallipoli, the Western Front and France. He was wounded during a battle in France in November 1917.

Fatefully, Norman returned to Australia on 9 March, 1919. He later married Louisa May Lawson in 1923.

Norman’s involvement in the war resulted in him receiving the 1914-15 Star, the British War medal and the Victory Medal of 1970.

Norman passed away in 1970, aged 76.

Trees were planted in Ballarat’s Avenue of Honour as a memorial to the brothers’ service. They can be found at tree no. 387, 2115 and 3861.

References

[1] The Argus, 21 September, 1918

[2] Postcard to mother from Harry Telford Hammon, Lark Hill Camp, England, 4 August, 1916. Gold Museum collection, 2011.0448.

[3] Postcard to Jessie Hammon from Norman Coates Hammon, Heliopolis, Garden City, undated. Gold Museum collection, 2011.0430

Written by Danni Roberts, honours year history student at Federation University.

 

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