12 October 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: James Eastwell & Albert Free

Two of my distant relatives lost their lives on this day one hundred years ago.....

JAMES HENRY EASTWELL was born on 7 March 1880 in Swan Creek, Queensland, fifth child of Edward & Mary Ann (nee Carter).  His grandfather John Eastwell was born in Great Gransden, Hunts, and took the family to Australia in the 1850s.

I know very little about James, except that he was most likely single at the time of his death, on the basis that his CWGC citation gives his parents as next of kin.  However, I do know that he enlisted in the Otago Regiment, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and I found his name on a number of NZ Rolls of Honour in their newspapers (courtesy of www.paperspast.natlib.gov.nz).  They all gave the name of Miss E Faulkner as (possible) next of kin.

The "Dominion" newspaper, dated 2 November 1917, sums up the scale of NZ losses:- "....The casualty list issued yesterday was one the longest lists, if the the longest, that has been issued in New Zealand.  The total casualties reported were 1240 and in that number there were 384 deaths."  "....nearly all of the causalties occured about October 12."

James is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

ALBERT ERNEST FREE was born in Corack, Victoria, in 1894.  Another of my ANZAC relatives, he was the third and youngest child of Samuel and Fanny (nee Shepherd), and his elder brother was also to lose his life to the Great War.

Albert enlisted on 24 July 1916, having been working as a farm hand.  He was reported "Missing in Action" on this day and a Court of Enquiry in May 1918 decided that he was killed in action today one hundred years ago.  He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

We will remember them.