James SNEDDEN (1886-1949)
9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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James Snedden

34th BATTALION A.I.F.

Lieutenant: 1422 James SNEDDEN.


Born: 20th July 1886. Hamilton, New South Wales, Australia. Birth Cert:30274/1886.

Married: 12th March 1921. New Lambton, New South Wales, Australia. Marriage Cert:1040/1921.

Wife: Ester Ann Snedden. nee: Lambert. (Born 1892 Adamstown - died 1947 Newcastle)

Died: 27th September 1949. Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Death Cert:19596/1949.


Father: James Snedden. (28/07/1857 "Borehole" Hamilton-15/06/1944 Newcastle)

Mother: Catherine Snedden. nee: Hands. 26/10/1863 Newcastle-20/01/1953 Cessnock)


INFORMATION

James Snedden enlisted with the AIF at West Maitland on the 15th January 1916 aged 29 years and 7 months of age and was allocated to the 34th Battalion AIF and was an original member of the Battalion and embarked from Sydney with the Machine Gun Section onboard HMAT A20 "Hororata" on 2 May 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth England at 1:00pm on the 26 June 1916.

1: The Battalion entrained during the afternoon for Amesbury, arriving at midnight and marching to hutments at No: 1 Camp, Larkhill. Here the Battalion settled down to hard training, which included Route Marching, Trench Digging, Bomb Practice, Musketry and general Camp Routine. Later the Battalion moved to the No: 25 Camp and finished off their training, which included six days' battle practice and field work at the Bustard Trenches.

Four days' disembarkation leave was given from 6th to 10th July and later King's Leave from November 5th to 9th. Whilst here the Official Colours were issued. Purple over Green (Oval), these replacing the Colours presented to the Battalion (Old Gold on Shoulder Straps) by the Ladies of West Maitland. A Signal Section was formed at Larkhill under Lieutenant: Harold Henry McMINN. The weather in England was mostly fine until the latter part of training, when a good deal of rain and snow caused inconvenience. In October the 34th Battalion was reviewed at a Divisional Parade by His Majesty King George V at Bulford.

The 34th Battalion left Larkhill on the 21st November and entrained at Amesbury for Southampton, embarking on the S.S "Arundel". The transport section left by S.S. "Princess Victoria". The Battalion arrived at Le Harve, France on the 22nd November 1916. Disembarkation commenced at 8:00am and the Battalion marched to No;1 camp on the Hill, arriving at 2:00pm. The men carried heavy loads, in some cases amounting to miniature Q.M.' Stores. The march over cobblestones was very tiring, notwithstanding the many route marches which had been carried out at Larkhill. However, after bathing their feet and receiving treatment, as well partaking of a good meal, some spent a comfortable night.

The following morning the Battalion moved to Le Harve Railway Station, leaving D Company behind. On arrival at the Station entraining commenced at 8:00am and the train left at 11:15am. The journey was slow and occupied until 4:30pm on the 24th. On arrival at Bailleul the men detrained and marched to Outtersteene. D Company arrived at 4:00pm the following day. The Battalion rested here in billets for two days previous to taking over garrison duties in the Line at Armenties. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel. Malcolm St John LAMB. with the Adjutant, Company Commanders, N.C.O's and Specialists went into the Line to inspect Trenches, Stores, Plans and to arrange for the taking over this Section of the line on the following day.

The specialists and N.C.O's remained in the Line. On 27th November the Battalion went into the Line in the L'Epinette Sector. The men were taken up by motor lorries as far as the Square near Houplines Station, and marched via Butterne Avenue and Willow Walk to the Line, carrying their packs and blankets into the trenches. Lewis Gun ammunition was taken into the Line with the tin cases. The going was difficult owing to the conditions of the Trenches and the heavy and bulky loads. Later the blankets were dumped near Tussage Dump, from which most of them disappeared. This was the main incident of our relief in the Line.

The Sector taken over had been held by the NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILLIERS whom the 34th Battalion relieved. Specialists of this Regiment remained for a couple of days to arrange and assist in the routine. We were greeted with a display of Verey Lights and, apparently anxious to see the newcomers, the enemy searched our Sector with his searchlights throughout the night, which was misty and dark. Our Artillery and Trench Mortars put over a heavy barrage, either to let Fritz know we had arrived or to cover the change over; this was the signal for increased activity of enemy Machine Gun and Rifle fire to which the Battalion energetically replied.

During the night Patrols were sent out, Listening Posts established and wiring was commenced. Dawn broke with a thick mist hanging over the Sector and our men could get very little idea of the new frontage. Our Artillery and Trench Mortars were busy registering on the enemy positions throughout the day and Fritz retaliated with Machine Gun and Rifle fire. The first day passed with no special incidents. Our first Casualty occured on the following morning at sunrise when Private: 148 William PECK was sniped with an explosive bullet through the forehead. Counter battery work, Machine Gun firing and sniping were fairly active during our first term in the Line. The first Casualty occured on the morning of the 3rd of December at sunrise when Private: 148 William PECK was sniped with an explosive bullet through the forehead. Counter battery work, Machine Gun firing and sniping were fairly active during our first term in the Line.

Considerable damage was done to our Trenches and parapets and one of our Listening Posts was destroyed. Some enemy Patrols were dispered by our snipers. Enemy working parties were fairly active on our front and his patrols were strong. Considerable road and rail transport was noticeable behind the enemy lines. The Battalion livened things up generally in the Sector which of late had been fairly quiet and Fritz did not appreciate the change. Just before being relieved we presented them with an issue of Gas. The Trenches were in a very wet and muddy condition. The water in the bottom of them being frequently frozen, the ice had to be broken to provide sufficient cover for the men, as the parapets were not high enough to allow walking on the ice. Thus the men had to stand in the freezing water and mud, with the result that the constant wet and cold caused many evacuations with trench feet.

James marched out to the Lewis Gun School on the 12 January 1917 and returned back from the field on the 21st. He went back into the field and was there promoted to Corporal on the 29 April and then to Temporary Sergeant in Belgium on the 20th June after Sergeant: 827 Arthur Ernest LUXFORD was wounded and had to evacuate. On the 30th July 1917 Sergeant: Oliver Proven DAVIDSON was commissioned to Lieutenant and James was promoted to Sergeant and then to 2nd Lieutenant in the field on the 20 November and was appointed to Lewis Gun Officer in the December 1917 and was granted for the first time leave to Paris on the 29 December.

Officers of the 34th Battalion 1918

James returned to his unit from leave on the 18 January 1918 and on the 23 February leave was again granted to England. It was at this time that he went to Scotland to visit his relatives, the Archibalds and stayed during this time with the Duncans. On his rejoining from leave in March he went out into the field again and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 14 May 1918.

King's Commission

King's Commission to 2nd Lieutenant.

MENTIONED in DESPATCHES

Special Mentioned in Despatches by Sir Douglas HAIG: 7 April 1918 in Villers Bretonneux and Ypres Campaign, manning a trench single handed against the enemy.

London Gazette: 28 May 1918 Page 6202, position 85

Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 24 October 1918 Page 2056, position 198

It was there in the field that he was specially mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches in the latter stages of the Villers Bretonneux and Ypres campaigns on the 7 April 1918 for manning a trench single handed against the enemy. Leave was issued on the 7 September for 2 weeks and on returning he was Wounded in Action in the field on the 2 October 1918. While still in France he was treated for Advanced Gun Shot Wounds to the Hands and Right Leg and the following week he was invalided to England.

18th October 1918.

Informant: Lieutenant: James SNEDDEN It is known in the Battalion that Sergeant: 748 George Laing DUTHIE was killed in action during a counter attack, about 2:00am (on date named I think) by a bullet, some 800 yards in front of Villers-Bretonneux and North of the Railway Line. He was buried where he fell. The ground was held.

3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth.

James embarked from England on board the ‘Orsova’ for Australia on 7 December 1918 arriving in Australia in March of 1919.

James snedden

Medal and Military Memorabilia in the possesion of Bev Snedden

Letter to James Snedden

Hand witten letter to James Snedden from His Excellency King George V

Family Information

James was a single 29 year old Miner from Vincent Street, South Cessnock, N.S.W prior to enlistment. James’ parents James and Catherine Snedden were married and had 8 children. Agnes Snedden born 1882 at Hamilton and died 1883 Hamilton. Joseph Snedden born 1884 at Hamilton and died 1959 at Adamstown. James Snedden born 1886 at Hamilton and died 1949 at Medowie. Edward Snedden born 1889 at Hamilton and died 1963 at Belmont. William Snedden born 1890 at Hamilton and died 1967 Hamilton. Harold Snedden born 1893 at Hamilton and died 1969 at Burwood. Catherine Snedden born 1896 at Hamilton, married Alexander Wells and died 1966 Cessnock. Walter Snedden born 1898 at Hamilton and died 1990 at Laurieton.

His brother, cousins and brother-in-law, who also enlisted in the 34th Battalion on the same day, were: Private: 894 Alexander SNEDDON. Private: 2158 Andrew SNEDDON.  Private: 896 Leslie SNEDDON.  Private: 895 Harold SNEDDON. Private: 912 Alexander WELLS. and Private: 554 Thomas Frederick SHEARS.. Also his cousin from the 35th Battalion, Sergeant: 2525 William ADAMS.

His description on enlistment was height 5’ 7 1/2”, weight 155lbs, chest 36-38 inches, complexion medium, eyes blue, hair brown, religion Presbyterian and was single.

After leaving the army, James went back to Cessnock and took up mining again, married Esther Ann Lambert and they moved to Medowie in the May of 1932 and began work on developing an orchard of stone fruit and vegetables. He turned the farm into a very productive and rewarding business. James died in Ward 8, Newcastle Hospital on the 27 September 1949. The farm was left to his only son. His good friend and solicitor Major: Harry "Bert" Lambert Edward Dixon WHEELER who had headed the 34th Battalion during the war, placed an obituary in the Newcastle paper about James with the kindest words of admiration.


Sandgate Cemetery

James is buried at the Sandgate Cemetery. Anglican Section 174, Grave No:54. (Photo's Gary Mitchell) Sandgate Cemetery Project

(Family research and photos Courtesy of Bev Snedden, Grandaughter of Lieutenant James Snedden. August 2014)

His son, Bill, recalls: His only reminders of the war were the infamous German towers built to snipe nearby troops or infantry. The English had decided that it had to go and brought in an accurate 16” naval gun by rail. From a distance or 20 miles away, one shell was fired hitting the tower and collapsing it to ground level.

Bill Snedden.

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© Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 23/07/2014-13/04/2017.


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