4486 Private Michael Davitt Nolan POW
27th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division
1st Australian Imperial Force 1914-1919

Introduction

Image if available

The following information and chronological table are a summary of the entries from the World War One service record of Michael Davitt Nolan.

Note that some of the service record pages may be duplicated - often when the unit and Army records were amalgamated on discharge.

Service numbers were allocated by unit, and are not unique to the individual.

Prepared for Robert 'Bob' Nolan by Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 25 Jul 2018.

View Michael Davitt Nolan's Service record


Enlistment Details

Service Number

4486

Name

Michael Davitt Nolan

Born at

Lyrup, South Australia

Age

20 years 7 months as at 4 Feb 1916 (Birth dates not recorded, only age on enlistment)

Trade or Calling

Horticulturalist

Marital Status

Single

Next of Kin

Mother - Margaret Nolan
Lyrup, River Murray, SA

Previous Military Service

No

Attested at

Adelaide, SA

Date of Enlistment

4 Feb 1916

Height

5 foot 8½ inches [174 cm]

Weight

132 pounds [60 Kg]

Chest

32½ - 37 inches [81.3 - 94 cm]

Complexion

Dark

Eyes

Brown

Hair

Dark Brown

Religious Denomination

Roman Catholic

Units

27th Battalion, 7th Brigade


Chronological Events

Rank

Description

Date

Remarks

Private

Enlisted

4 Feb 1916

Private

Assigned variously to A Company, 2nd Depot Battalion,
C Coy, 1st Depot Battalion, C Coy 2nd Depot Battalion
and then to 11th Reinforcements to 27th Battalion AIF

4-15 Feb 1916

Notation for Field Artillery during this period does not appear to have occured.
(4th Military District, South Australia seems to need a better administrator.)

Private

Embarked on HMAT "SHROPSHIRE (A9) for overseas

25 Mar 1916

Assigned to 11th Reinforcements to 27 Battalion.

Private

Admitted to No 4 Auxilliary Hospital at Abbassia (Egypt) with measles

24 May 1916

Private

Base Records Office Melbourne advises Mrs Margaret Nolan that her son Michael NOlan is admitted to the 4th Auxilliary Hospital suffering from a mild case of measles.

2 Jun 1916

Private

Discharged to duty from hospital

5 Jun 1916

Private

Taken on strength of 7th Training Battalion

29 Jun 1916

Private

Taken on strength of 13th Training Battalion

2 Jul 1916

Rank

Description

Date

Remarks

Private

Proceeded overseas to France

9 Sep 1916

Private

Marched in to 2nd Australian Division Base Depot (2 ADBD), Etaples

11 Sep 1916

Private

Proceeded to join unit

28 Sep 1916

Private

Taken on strength of 27 Battalion in Belgium

28 Sep 1916

Private

Declared Missing - actually a Prisoner of War
He was a passenger in a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) BE2e Recomnnaissance Biplane when the pilot, Sub Lieut Horace William Owen of 52 Squadron, RFC got lost in fog, and had to land near Villers, behind German lines after the aircraft's engine was damaaged by ground fire. Both were captured.

28 Mar 1917

See subsequent entries

Private

On 28 Mar 1917 Private Nolan accepted an invitation from Sub Lieutenant H.W. Owen RNVR [Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve] RFC, 52nd Squadron to go up in a machine. Since then the machine has not returned. It is presumed that the Pilot lost his way and either landed or was shot down in the German Lines.

31 May 1917

Extract from report by GOC Royal Flying Corps, 31 May 1917
This report did not get to Nolan's unit some time.
The aircraft was a BE2e reconnaissance biplane No 2560.

Private

Report by 2469 Richard Trevor Hoar, at the time a patient in No 4 General Hospital Etaples, dated 17 May 1917 states: He went for a walk to see a friend in the R.F.C. and was lucky enough to get a joy ride in a plane which failed to return. It was not discovered that he was in the plane until he had been missing for a month. The facts have now been given out in Orders. He came from Adelaide with my reinf. [sic] and was a youngster of about 21.

17 May 1917

'Lucky' is probably not a word that Michael Nolan would use to describe his fate.

Private

The record shows that a postcard from Nolan himself, advised that he was a Prisoner of War interned in Kreigsgefangenenlager (Prisoner of War Camp) Wahn, Rheinland, Germany.

1 Jul 1917

This camp was one of the large prison camps in the area of the 8th German Army Corps, with many prisoners of war from the Western Front. At times more than 50,00 prisoners were interned in Cologne, which later became an officer-only camp. [Dortmund Post-Colonial photograph]

Private

Base Records Office (Melbourne) advises Mrs Margaret Nolan that her son Michael Nolan is a Prisoner of War and provides a postal address.

24 Sep 1917

Private

Base Records Office sends a package of personal effects (with enclosed inventory) of her son to Margaret Nolan.

25 Mar 1918

Private

Margaret Nolan signs receipt for a package of effects of Michael Nolan consigned to her per HMAT "BARAMBAH"

3 Apr 1918

Private

Repatriated from Germany and arrived in Ripon, England

20 Dec 1918

Private

Advice from Base Records Office (Melbourne) to Mother, that Prisoner of War Private M.D. Nolan had been repatriated, and provided his postal address.

27 Dec 1918

Private

Leave

21-22 Jan 19

Private

March in to No 2 (Australian) Command Depot (2 CD) Weymouth, from Australian HQ London (POW)

22 Jan 1919

Private

March out to No 1 Command Depot (1 CD) Sutton Vesey [Birmingham]

11 Feb 1919

Private

Offence, Sutton Vesey
Absent Without Leave (AWL) from 2359 21 Mar 1919 to 1600 23 Mar 1919 Awarded 2 days Confined to Camp (CC) by Lieutenant Armit 24 Mar 1919 Total forfeiture 2 Days Pay

24 Mar 1919

Private

Embarks from London on HMAT "WARWICKSHIRE"

19 Apr 1919

Private

Disembarks in Australia

24 May 1919

Private

Discharged from Army in south Australia (4th Military District)

10 Jul 1919

Private

Submits request for documents

12 May 1969

Address is Alice Springs


Medals and Dress Embellishments

British War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal, no Wound Stripe for 2 Apr 1917, three Long Service Stripes, three Overseas Service Chevrons. Use the hyperlinks or scroll down to see further information on the badges.


Other Accoutrements

World War One medal set


L to R - 1914-15 Star, War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal

Unit Shoulder Patch
27th Infantry Battalion
27 Bn Shoulder Patch

Rising Sun Badge
1st and 2nd AIF


[Not entitled to wear]
ANZAC 'A' on Shoulder Patch
ANZAC A


Some Government Issued Badges

Nearest Female
Relative Badge

War Widows
Guild Brooch

Silver War Badge
 

Discharged Returned
Soldier Badge

Government issued badge in enamel
and sterling silver issued to the wife,
mother or nearest female relative of
a serving soldier. Additional bars
were suspended below for further
individuals.

Membership badge of a Kookaburra
in sterling silver, issued by the
Government to the widows of men
who lost their lives due to their
service. Numbered on the reverse.

Awarded to service personnel who
sustained a wound, or contracted
sickness of disability in the course
of the war as a result of which
they were invalided out, or to
soldiers who had retired during
the course of the war.

First issued in 1916. Slight variations are indicative of a number of makers. 267,300 were issued. Numbered on the reverse but the numbers have no link with length of service or Service Number.

[Badge information collated from Australian War Memorial, "Australians Awarded" by Clive Johnson and en.wikipedia.com]

Background - Infantry Battalions

[Based on information at www.aif.adfa.edu.au]

The 1914 infantry battalion was a large unit, composed of eight rifle companies each of 3 officers and 116 other ranks armed with Short Magazine Lee-Enfield .303 rifles, a   small headquarters with 4 officers and 21 other ranks and a machine gun section with two .303 Maxim machine guns, one officer and 17 other ranks, a total of 32 officers and 991 other ranks. In December 1914, battalions were reorganised into four companies each of four platoons, but strength was unchanged. By mid 1918, the number of officers had increased to 38 but the number of other ranks had declined to 900. At the same time, the firepower of the battalion was greatly augmented with hand and rifle grenades and Lewis Guns, of which there was 34 per battalion.


27th Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Divison

[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

The 27th Battalion AIF was raised in March 1915. Lieutenant Colonel Walter Dollman VD (who had formerly served in the forerunner volunteer militia unit, the 74th Infantry) was appointed Commanding Officer. The Battalion marched into the newly established Mitcham Camp south of the city of Adelaide, on 16 April 1915.

The 27th Battalion AIF was known as "Unley's Own", as many of the men who first enlisted in World War 1 were from the district. Lt Col Dollman had served as Mayor of Unley, and it was down Unley Road that the troops marched to be greeted and celebrated at the Town Hall prior to their embarkation for Egypt, Gallipoli and then ultimately to the Western Front.

After weeks of intensive training, route marches, farewell parades in front of enthusiastic crowds, and rousing speeches by the Governor of the day and other dignitaries, the Battalion embarked on the HMAT Geelong on 31 May 1915, bound for Egypt where further training was undergone.

In September the Battalion landed at Gallipoli where it remained until the evacuation in December. In addition to enemy action, by this late stage of the campaign, poor hygiene and sanitation had begun to take its toll in the form of quite serious disease such as enteric fever (typhoid) and other maladies resulting in many evacuations, some right back to Australia. Casualties included the CO, Lieutenant Colonel Dollman. As winter approached so plans for an evacuation were put in place and the ANZAC troops were withdrawn in perhaps the most successful phase of the entire campaign in the most difficult phase of war. Effecting a clean break without detection and exploitation by the Turks was achieved masterfully.

During the re-consolidation and "Doubling of the AIF" which took place in Egypt, many 27th Battalion men and reinforcements were posted to a range of Brigade Divisional and other units as the new organisation took shape, and new drafts of reinforcements arrived.

The Second Division embarked for Marseilles in April aboard a range of ships. From Marseilles they entrained for a journey to the very northern extremity of France near the Belgian border around the Armentieres sector, known colloquially as "The Nursery". It was here that troops new to the Front were conditioned to Trench Warfare, albeit in a relatively quiet sector of the Front.

Thereafter the Battalion fought with distinction throughout the Western Front, first entering the battlefield of Somme in April 1916. Along with the 28th Battalion, the 27th were the first Australian troops in the front line on the Somme.

The 27th Battalion was committed to the fighting near Pozieres as part of the Second Division AIF, along with the First and Fourth Divisions. On the 4th August 1916, the 27th Battalion was on the left flank of the 2nd Division attack aimed at capturing the heights above Pozieres. The 27th Battalion's axis of advance took it through the Windmill, or rather the ruins of the 17th Century windmill, which had the dominant view of the surrounding area. They captured it, and held it in the face of unrelenting artillery fire and counter attacks.

The Second Division was relieved in place by the Fourth Division, two nights later. By coincidence, the 27th Battalion was relieved by the 48th, drawn from South Australia and Western Australia. When the 48th took over from the 27th they reported that there was no one left alive in the forward positions. The 48th suffered similarly high casualties and indeed the area around the windmill is said to contain more South Australian DNA than any other piece of ground anywhere in the world save for metropolitan cemeteries in South Australia itself.

The 27th had a short respite for reinforcement and rest and was then committed to combat again in the second phase of the battle near Mouquet Farm.

Until the 9th September the 27th moved from from one camp to another, generally on foot. They finished up in France at Steenvorde (France). The battalion remained at Steenvorde until the 5th October when they entrained with the rest of the Brigade for Ypres where they relieved the 19th Battalion in the Salient and became the right battalion on the Brigade front. Here they remained until relieved by the 25th Battalion on the 12th October, whereupon they moved into barracks at Ypres.

They returned to the Somme from the 16th October when they entrained for St Lawrence Camp. Again they were on the march; occasionally they managed to stay two nights in one place. Eventually, on the 27th October, they arrived at Dernancourt, where they engaged in consolidation and training before heading to the Front near Le Barque, where they relieved the 53rd Battalion.

In early November the 7th Brigade was involved in a major action at Flers, just to the south east of Pozieres. The first Flers attack was launched on 5 November with the 1st Brigade advancing against trenches north of Gueudecourt, and the 7th against a complex of trenches known as "the Maze". Both attacks managed to capture some of their objectives, The first Flers attack was launched on 5 November with the 1st Brigade advancing against trenches north of Gueudecourt, and the 7th against a complex of trenches known as "the Maze". The 27ths role was an attack on the enemy position in Bayonet Trench. While they held on there were no reinforcements available and they lacked secure flanks.

Both attacks managed to capture some of their objectives, but were eventually forced to withdraw. Another attack was launched against the Maze by the 5th and 7th Brigades on the morning of 17 November, it also succeeded in capturing a portion of the German trenches, but a surprise attack two days later returned this to the enemy.

The 27th Battalion lost 5 Officers and 72 Other Ranks killed. A further 5 Officers and 136 Other Ranks were wounded. 75 were listed as missing in action. Many have no known grave.

Mid-November marked the end of Field Marshal Haigh’s Somme offensive, the cost of which was hideous in the extreme.

The Second Division endured winter quarters near Guedecourt, not far from Pozieres. It was a bitterly cold winter, the worst in living memory, and the conditions there took their toll; more than 20,000 casualties across the Australian Divisions. Logistics were a nightmare made worse by the mud, which had come to characterise the battlefield.


Battle Honours:

Somme 1916-18, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Ypres 1917, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodeseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Amiens, Albert 1918, Mont St Quentin, Hindenburg Line, Beaurevoir, France and Flanders 1916-18, Gallipoli 1915, Egypt 1915-16


The ANZAC 'A'

The brass letter 'A' to represent service related to Gallipoli (ANZAC) was authorised to be worn 'over unit colour patches on both sleeves of the service dress jacket and greatcoat" by Military Order 354 of 18 Aug 17 and AIF Order 937 of 6 Nov 17, as amended in terms of qualification by Military Order 20 of 19 Jan 18 and by AIF Order 1084 of 25 Jan 18.

The size of the letter 'A', introduced as one inch in height (AIF Order 994 of 30 Nov 17), was reduced to three-quarters of an inch by AIF Order 1012 of 11 Dec 17.

Provision for wearing the brass letter 'A' was also included in General Routine Order 0.815 of 17 Dec 43 and GRO 310 of 7 Dec 45.

ANZAC 'A'


Wound Stripe

Army Order No.204 Headquarters, 1st A.N.Z.A.C., 9th August, 1916. (slightly amended for layout)
DISTINCTIONS FOR OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS WHO HAVE BEEN WOUNDED

The following distinction in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August 1914 :

  • Stripes of gold Russia braid No.1, two inches [2.5cm] in length sewn perpendicularly on the left forearm sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded.

  • In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left forearm sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

  • Subsequent occasions on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half inch interval.

  • Gold braid and sews will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.

Wound Stripes


Long Service Badges

A.I.F. ORDER No.470, 24 January 1917 (slightly amended for layout)

The question of the issue of a badge to members of the AIF who have completed a certain period of service has received consideration, and approval has been given for the issue of a badge for long service combined with good conduct, subject to the following conditions.

  • The badge will consist of an inverted single chevron of service braid to be worn on the left forearm - the point of the chevron to be 3 inches [7.6cm] above the edge of the cuff.

  • Warrant and non-commissioned officers and men, will be eligible for the badge, which will not carry an increased pay or allowance.

  • One chevron will be worn for each complete year's service in the Australian Imperial Force from the date of embarkation in Australia

  • No badge will be issued to any man who, during the 12 months, has incurred a regimental entry (i.e. an entry involving forfeiture of pay) in his sheet.

  • Time absent from the unit in hospital or elsewhere on account of wounds or sickness, not the result of misconduct, will count as service towards earning the badge.

  • A man in possession of a badge will forfeit same on being convicted of any offence involving a forfeiture of pay , but will be eligible to regain the badge after 6 months good conduct, from the date of forfeiture.

  • The illegal wearing of this badge will be a crime under A.A. Section 40.


Overseas Service Chevrons

Australian Imperial Force Order No.1053, January 1918 (Slightly amended for layout)

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of chevrons to denote service overseas since the 4th August 1914.

  • Chevrons of two colours have been approved.

    • The first chevron if earned on or before 31st December 1914, will be red.

    • If earned on or after 1st January 1915, it will be blue.

    • All additional chevrons after the first will be blue.

  • The chevrons will be worsted embroidery, 1/4 inch [0.63cm] in width, the arms 4 inches [10.2cm] long. They will be worn inverted on the right forearm:

  • In the case of officers, the apex of the lowest chevron will be 1 inch [2.5cm] above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • In the case of warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men, the apex of the lowest chevron will be midway between the seams and four inches [10.2cm] above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

  • The red chevron will be worn below the blue one. They will not be worn on greatcoats.

  • In the case of Australians, the first chevron was earned the date the individual left Australia. Additional chevrons were awarded for each successive aggregate period of 12 months service outside Australia.

[http://au.geocities.com/fortysecondbattalion/level2/reference/01nos-standards.htm]