An ‘All Too Brief’ Sorrento Son
Joseph Lachlan Hood was born on 4th June 1896 at Cannum, near Warracknabeal, the son of Margaret and James Hood, a labourer who was born at Drysedale on the Bellarine Peninsula, and in the early part of the century was a farmer at Mannerim nearby. Joseph was the sixth of nine children and the fifth boy.
Sometime in 1912 James and Margaret moved ‘across the heads’ to Sorrento with their younger children (Joseph was 16) where James worked as a labourer (probably on a farm). By 1916 they had moved on to Williamstown where James worked as a deckhand.
Joseph would remain in Sorrento, working as a labourer until August 1915.
Joseph enlisted on 4th August 1915 into the 24th Infantry Battalion, 7th Reinforcements. Being over the required 18 years old but under 21, Joseph needed parental consent to enlist.
from NAA HERE
Of Joseph’s older brothers, Dugald Alexander Hood had enlisted in July 1915 in the 8th Infantry Battalion, 11th Reinforcements (he went on to become a Lieutenant in 60th Battalion) while Edward Duncan “Dunk” Hood enlisted later, in January 1916 in the 29th Infantry Battalion, 5th Reinforcements and William James in April 1916 into 24th Btn. 15th Reinforcements.
The 6th Infantry Brigade, 24th Battalion, 7th Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne on H.M.A.T. A73 “Commonwealth” on the 26th Nov 1915.
In Alexandria, on 24th Feb 1916 Joseph was transferred to 8th Australian Infantry Battalion
8th Australian Infantry Battalion
The 8th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions, it was recruited from Victoria and, together with these battalions, formed the 2nd Brigade.
The battalion was raised from rural Victoria by Lieutenant Colonel William Bolton within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on 2 December. It later took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915, as part of the second wave. Ten days after the landing, the 2nd Brigade was transferred from ANZAC to Cape Helles to help in the attack on the village of Krithia. The attack captured little ground but cost the brigade almost a third of its strength. The Victorian battalions returned to ANZAC to help defend the beachhead, and in August the 2nd Brigade fought at the battle of Lone Pine. The battalion served at ANZAC until the evacuation in December.
After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt. In March 1916, it sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918 the battalion was heavily involved in operations against the German Army. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozieres in the Somme valley in July 1916. Private Thomas Cooke, one of 81 members of the battalion killed at Pozieres, earned a posthumous Victoria Cross during the action. After Pozieres, the battalion fought at Ypres, in Flanders, returning to the Somme for winter. In 1917, the battalion participated in the operations that followed-up the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, and then returned to Belgium to join the great offensive launched to the east of Ypres.
Source: AWM Unit Histories. for more go HERE
Battle of Pozieres – Mouquet Farm
The 2nd Australian Division had failed once to take the OG lines (See below). A more carefully planned second assault was launched on 4 August. The OG lines were captured and held against counterattacks. For the first time the Australians on the ridge crest were able to see the German held town of Bapaume, eight kilometres to the north-east.
Having captured the OG lines 1st Anzac Corps now turned its attention to Mouquet Farm. The Australian 4th Division relieved the 2nd, which had lost 7000 men in twelve days. If 4th Division could capture the farm then the German strongpoint of Thiepval could be cut off and forced to surrender.
From 8 August to 5 September the Australians advanced on Mouquet Farm, entering its grounds three times, but each time being forced out again.
1st Division (including 8th Battalion) and 2nd Divisions, which had rested and received replacements for their earlier losses, were brought back in their turn (1st on August 15th), however none of the Australian divisions could secure the farm. By 5 September, when 1st Australian Corps was withdrawn and replaced by Canadian troops, the Corps had lost 23,000 men in six weeks. Nine tenths of these losses fell among the 36 infantry battalions of the Corps. With just less than one thousand men in each battalion, over half of the Australian infantry had been killed or wounded.
Source: Australians on the western front HERE
South of the main road the ” jumping-off ” trench, where complete, was now occupied by several platoons of the 7th and 8th Battalions, whose companies were to deliver the main
These plans were explained to the company commanders, as also was the fact that the troops must advance behind a gradually lifting barrage*. But the details – what would be the actual minute for the commencement of the barrage, where it would fall, and what were the time and extent of each of the lifts – were stated only in the artillery orders, and at 7.30 p.m. these had not arrived at brigade headquarters. As the attack was to be at 9.00, and communication with the front trenches was exceedingly difficult, the brigade staff was acutely anxious lest the order might not reach its troops in time. When the document came to hand at 7.40 it was practically certain that it could not do so.
*This barrage would really he the first ”creeping barrage” to be followed by Australian infantry.
The 8th Battalion and half of the 7th had assembled during August 18th in the ” jumping-off ” trench, which was very narrow, but which hid them from the enemy.
The centre and right of the attack appear to have followed the barrage, but probably somewhat too slowly through ignorance of its stages. They had gone more than 100 yards
with little opposition when heavy fire opened. Lieutenant O’Kelly (8th Btn) rushed ahead intending to reach the trench before machine-guns could open, and succeeded in doing so, but most of his men were too late and, twice wounded, he was overpowered and captured. Elsewhere a few men entered the objective, but were killed fighting around a concrete shelter.
It was afterwards said that in the heavy fusillade which had met the line a sergeant had shouted – ” Come back, lads, it’s no good.” The troops fell back, but only to form again
immediately and advance. In this advance also, some reached the enemy trench, but could not hold on.
Later a third attempt was made, and the neighbourhood of the trench must again have been reached by the leaders, since a wounded officer, Lieutenant Dabb (8th Btn), was picked up later by the Germans, as were a few of the other wounded who lay outside their trench, and died as a prisoner of war.
from CEW Bean’s history HERE
The 2nd Brigade (1st Division) was relieved on August 21st by the 5th (2nd Division). Out of a strength of 3,750 on August 15th it had lost 915.
Of the 39 Officers and 749 Other Ranks, the 8th Battalion would have 25 killed (1 Officer, 24 ORs), 154 wounded (13 Officers, 141 ORs) and 37 missing (3 Officers, 34 ORs).
What happened to Joseph Hood?
From the 8th Battalion Unit diary of the day, we know “A” Company of which Joseph was part was on the right of the initial attack. They “immediately came under a heavy fire from bombs and m.guns (machine guns)”
Joseph was reported killed on 18th of August. His remains were never found, so he is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France
Back at home
From Trove HERE
ps. Joseph’s brothers William and Dugald would survive the war.
Sadly, however “Dunk” would be killed in France on 27th October 1916.
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