The AIF Project

Henry Oscar NELSON

Regimental number728
Place of birthWellington, New Zealand
SchoolMitchelltown Public School, Wellington, New Zealand
Age on arrival in Australia18
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationWood working machinist
AddressParkes Street, Ryde, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Height5' 4.5"
Weight126 lbs
Next of kinFather, Martin Nelson, Parkes Street, Ryde, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 3 years in the New Zealand Cadets.
Enlistment date17 July 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name30th Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/47/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A72 Beltana on 9 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll30th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 July 1916
Age at death from cemetery records20
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsV.C. Corner (Panel No 2), Australian Cemetery , Fromelles, France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
111
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Martin and Elizabeth NELSON, Parkes Street, Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrother: 727 Pte Frederick Andrew NELSON, 30th Bn, returned to Australia, 3 July 1916.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 9 November 1915; disembarked Suez, 11 December 1915.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 16 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 23 June 1916.

Reported missing in action, 20 July 1916.

File states: 'Identification Disc received from Germany. No particulars were received that Soldier was deceased. May now be reported "KILLED IN ACTION" 20/7/16.'

Red Cross Bureau, Sydney, wrote to mother, 10 March 1917: 'It is with the greatest regret that we have to inform you that our Agents in London have written to us to say that the above soldier's name [728 H.O. NELSON] appears in the German Death List issued on 4th November 1916. Our agents inform us that these lists are really made out from the discs which have been gathered by the Germans from men who have been found killed or who have died from wounds, or who have died as prisoners of war in Germany. Our agents also tell us that according to their instructions, the Germans have buried the men after obtaining the discs. We are afraid, therefore, that there can be little doubt but that the above soldier must have died ... '

Mother wrote to Base Records, 14 March 1917: 'Yesterday I received from the Red Cross, notice to say, that my Son's name, appeared in the Germans Death list issued on the 4th of November, 1916. The London Agent said that these list (sic) are really made out from the Discs, which have been gathered by the Germans from those who have been found killed or who have died from wounds or who have died as prisoners of war. But as to where the said Soldier was they do not say. I would like if you will ask Headquarters, if they got such a list, and if they can find out the date of death, and what he died off (sic), and whether found on the battlefield or if he died as a prisoner of war. I think it must be as a prisoner, for his photo is in the enclosed. Everyone who knew the lad, say it is him. I also enclose two addresses, for you to have enquiries made at. The boy who sent it wrote on the 14th of November, but he did not say when or at which of the places it was taken. But the lad was taken prisoner on or about the 20th to 25th of July, and my poor lad is missing since the 20th of July. I wrote to the lad who sent the photo, and also to my lad, but it will be May or June before I can expect an answer; you will kindly do what you can for us. It has been very hard to bear. [I] have no hope of knowing where my poor lad is.'

Mother wrote to Base Records, 26 March 1917: '... And there is also another Pte H.O. Nelson for a parcel was returned here to Sydney. And when the only person who used to send him parcels, went to the Victoria Barracks about it, they told her it was not for Pte 728 H.O. Nelson it was for another one of the same name. Our poor lad may be suffering from an injurie (sic) to the head or shell shock, and may have forgotten who he is. We all have the feeling that he is not dead. I wrote to the addresses I sent to you and asked him to write even if he had forgotten who he was as we would known his writing [underlined]. I hope you may be able to trace him, but you see they keep moving the prisoners about so. And one cannot trust to what the Germans send out in their lists.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, NELSON Henry Oscar
Red Cross File No 1990503

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