Thomas Granville ROLLASON (1883-1965)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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35th BATTALION A.I.F.

Private: 2124 Thomas Granville ROLLASON.


Born: 1883. Cooma, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:23082/1883. (ROLLANSON)

Married: 1926. Annandale, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert: 6805/1926.

Wife: Elizabeth E (Rollanson) nee: Mooney.

Died: 1965. Auburn, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:33459/1965.


Father: Thomas Rollason.

Mother: Margaret Shephard. nee: Rollason. nee: Hughes.


INFORMATION

Thomas Branville Rollason enlisted with the 3rd Reinforcements, 35th Battalion AIF on the 3rd of April 1916 and left Sydney on board HMAT A68 "Anchises" on the 24th of August 1916 and disembarked at Devonport, England on the 11th of November 1916 where he was taken on in strength with A Compnay 35th Battalion. Thomas proceeded overseas for France on the 21st of December.

Thomas was Wounded in Action; 1st occassion on the 31st of May 1917 and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance for Multiple Gun-Shot Wounds before again being transfered to hospital at Wimereux, France on the 2nd of June. After 2 days he was sent to the 1st Convalescent Camp for the next 2 weeks and then to the 3rd Rest Camp on the 14th of June where he spent the next week before rejoining his unit on the 21st of June to reinforce his company due to the big push at Messines which commenced in early June.

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES

7th June 1917

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General A JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John Carroll 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had mede little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infanry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

26th July 1917

MESSINES Relieved 33rd BN in front line, Captain: Hugh John CONNELL was buried by a shell in the front line 28/07/17 and evacuated. On night of 28/07/17 enemy placed a heavy barrage on the 35th Bn front line (Douve River to Steicnvast Farm) and finally attempted to raid our Right Company "A Coy" on the River Douve. They were successfully repulsed with considerable loss to themselves. Our counter barrage, both Machine-Gun and Artillery being excellent. Captain: Henry Charles Dight CADELL was in command of A Coy. Our trenches were badly damaged but no entrance was affected, our men though very tired and worn fought splendidly.

35th Bn AIF was relieved by 41st Bn (Brigade Relief) 35th moved back to Douve River Camp. Casulties during 27-30/07/17, 41 including 13 killed. This month was the most strenuous in the history of the Battalion (not including the big offensive of June) as the new ground in front of Messines was in a very wet and muddy state, and hastily constructed trenches combined with long tours in the line and the natural desire of the enemy to prevent us settling down made conditions very trying for all ranks.

(35th Battalion War Diary)

29th July 1917.

Brigade Headquarters; Had pleasure in highly commending this soldier at MESSINES during the attack on the 28/29th July, showed conspicuous courage, in acting as a lookout to direct our Lewis gun and Rifle Fire. He continued to report enemy's movements and give information until enemy's retirement and his work had an important beaking up of the attack.

(Department of Repatriation Records)

Thomas was again Wounded in Action; 2nd occassion on the 8th August 1918 and was treated by the 9th Australian Field Ambulance before being transfered to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Gun-Shot Wounds, to his Left Arm and Leg. Thomas was transfered to the Australian Convalescent Depot and granted leave upon discharge when he was CHARGED with being (1) Absent on the 26.08.18 (2) In possession of spirits. AWARD 7 days confined to camp and forfeits 7 day's pay.

30th November 1917.

Informant; Private: 2124 Thomas Granville ROLLASON. "I know . Private: 1511 Thomas BLACKWELL He was an original Battalion man and a Lewis Gunner, No:1 on the team. He lived at Kurri Kurri, West Maitland. I saw him wounded in the thigh in the big stunt on 12th October 1917 opposite Passchendeale on the left of the railway, just on the ridge. He could not walk. He was bandaged up by the stretcher bearers. We had to retire, and we had to leave him. The next morning I saw Fritz's stretcher bearers doing the ridge with a flag up getting in their wounded, and ours. BLACKWELL has not been seen since. He could not possibly got back. As far as I know his wound was not serious.

Australian Camp, Rouelles, France.

Thomas then proceeded to England on leave on the 28th of December 1918 where he celebrated New Years Eve and returned to France and his unit on the 15th of January 1919. After onlt a couple of month in France, Thomas was returned to England on the 12th of March and was sent to the No: 3 Group at Codford, England where he remained until he left England for Australia on board HMAT A20 "Borda" on the 11th of May 1919 and disembarked in Melbourne, Australia on the 27th of June and made his way to Sydney for discharge. Thomas was discharged from the A.I.F. on the 4th of September 1919 as Medically Unfit-Disability.

Family Information

Thomas was a single 32 year old Bricklayer from Smithers Sreet, Chippendale, N.S.W. upon enlistment. His mother lived at the same address. His parents Thomas and Margaret Rollason were married in 1881 at Cooma, N.S.W. Marriage Cert: 4730/1881 and had 3 registered children and 1 unregistered child? Margaret Christina Rollason born 1881 at Cooma, N.S.W. Birth Cert:20634/1881 Thomas Granville Rollason born cica 1894 at Cooma, N.S.W. Birth Cert:23082/1883 and died in 1965 at Auburn, N.S.W. Death Cert: 33459/1965. (Note Birth and Marriage Cert: in the name of ROLLANSON not ROLLASON) Annie Rollason born 1885 at Cooma, N.S.W. Birth Cert:25593/1895. Mark Rollason born 1887 at Cooma, N.S.W. Birth Cert:27202/1887 and died in 1939 at Cooma, N.S.W. Death Cert:1772/1939.

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Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 18/04/2009-26/02/2016.


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