Friday, 10 October 2014

Faces from the past Friday - we called him Dave ...

Continuing on from the previous four cousins + 1, today I will talk about one of the cousins: David Ernest McCann (my first cousin 3 x removed).

David Ernest was born in Warrion Hills, Colac, Victoria in 1888. David was the 8th child of James McCann and Mary Harriett Wilson, a family of 6 boys and five girls. 

In the 1914 Commonwealth Electoral Roll, David was living at Rewa, Howson Street, Brunswick (an inner suburb of Melbourne) with an occupation of painter.

He enlisted in the AIF on 22nd February 1916 and gave his occupation as telephone linesman. His service number was 628 and he was assigned to B Company, 37th Battalion. David was single and aged 26 years and 3 months. His description on enlistment was: Height 5' 6"; Weight 142 lbs; Chest 36 ins; Complexion Fresh; Eyes Hazel; Hair Brown; Religion Methodist. This is the only mental picture we have of David.

On enlistment David was sent to Signal School at Broadmeadows, probably because his occupation was listed as telephone linesman.  David left Australia on the 3rd August 1916 on board the A34 "Persic" and disembarked in Plymouth on the 25th July 1916. He proceeded overseas to France on the 22nd November 1916 and joined the 3rd Australian Division. 

David was wounded in action (shell shock) on the 10th January 1917 and admitted to 10th Field Ambulance. He was returned to lines on the 13th January and rejoined the 37th Battalion on 19th January 1917.

The mud of Passchendaele
The 37th Battalion was part of the Battle of Passchendaele (from July to November 1917).
Click here for an Australian War Memorial account of the battle. Total casualties at Passchendaele are estimated at 475,000; about 275,000 British and Commonwealth and about 200,000 German.  38,000 Australians, 15,654 Canadians and 5,300 New Zealanders fell there, either killed, wounded or missing.(AWM)

In October 1917 David was part of the 10th Infantry Brigade and was again wounded in action on the 12th October 2017. He suffered a gunshot wound and compound fracture of his right thigh. He was admitted to the 11 Field Ambulance station on the 14th October and transferred to the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station British Empire Forces the same day. David died of wounds in the field on Sunday 14th October 1917.

This is an account of his wounding from the Australian Red Cross Wounded & Missing Enquiry Bureau Files 1914-1918 War; 1DRL/0428

This poignant acclount of his wounding from one of his comrades tells us of the horrific consequences of the battle at Passchendaele. I especially appreciate the words "we called him Dave". 

From the C.O. of the  3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station we have the following:
He was brought here on Oct 14th wounded in the right thigh and in a state of collapse. He passed away shortly after reaching us. He did not seem to be in any pain just bewildered, then suddenly lost consciousness and did not recover. He was buried at Nine Elms.

Dave is buried in Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinghe, West-Vlaanderen, Flanders, Belgium. 
Nine Elms British Cemetery

Charles Bean said of Passchendaele... 
I have often thought that many a youngster when he was hit out there on the Passchendaele heights … and he knew that the end had come – must have thought to himself: "well at least they'll remember me in Australia". C.E.W. Bean

Rest in Peace, Dave ...

#genealogy #cousins #family history

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