Friday, November 9, 2018

W9. War Heroes of Thomas Jillett

Roll Of Honour

War Heroes of Thomas Jillett

Some of the Grandsons of Thomas and Mary Ann Jillett who served in WWII

The Boer War

Within the Jillett Family there are several who served in the Boer War. One was Tasman Jillett from Queensland, son of Thomas Jillett.

A skilled man of the land, from a family who thought nothing of moving mobs of sheep often numbering in excess of 12,000 from Broadmeadows in Victoria to Charleville in Queensland.  Then they would begin the return trip, a different mob of sheep ready to deliver.

Tasman's nephew also served in the Boer War.  They would not have known each other, or maybe they met somewhere along the line.  His name was Harold Sedgwick.  Harold was 19 years of age, and the son of a highly eminent Minister, missionary, and explorer, Rev James Sedgwick. 

While Tasman may have seen and fought the enemy, Harold helped himself to the soldier's pays.  For that the young Lieutenant was sent to the Natal lockup, and tried in a Court Martial.  What was he going to do with over £2000, in Natal in 1901?  Harold married Robert's great granddaughter, Katie Isabella Jillett.

A.    Alfred Charles Jillett married Catherine Phillips

       1.1                        Frank Alfred Jillett married  Marcia Cran Richardson
            1.1       Alfred Henry Jillett  WWII     12 Mar 1920    
            1.2       Richard Frank Jillett  WWII                 9 Dec 1921    
       2.2                        Eileen Mary Jillett married Reginald Victor Judd
       2.1                        Norman Keith Judd        WWII   RAAF   died 1942 Germany 
       2.2                        Reginald Alfred Judd  WWII
    2.3       Katie Isabella Jillett married Claude Annesley alias of Harold Sedgwick                        and partner of Samuel Herron.

            Harold Sedgwick/Claude Annesley served in Boer War, and was cashiered out, he  changed his name and came to Australia, he served in WWI

            2.3.1     Dalgleish Annesley changed his name to Dale Herron and enlisted WWII                                       Mentioned in Despatches Borneo.         (1)
            2.3.2     James William Herron WWII   New Guinea       (2)
            2.3.3     Wilfred Patrick Herron    Japan 1946 - 1947               (3)                   

Macleay Argus (Kempsey, NSW : 1885 - 1907; 1909 - 1910; 1912 - 1913; 1915 - 1916; 1918 - 1954) Friday 19 July 1940


Description of action at The Pocket – Labuan Island, British North Borneo – June 1945.

       As told by Trooper Dale Herron

The 10th June 1945 was a fine sunny day on Labuan Island, British North Borneo - 3 Section of D Troop – 2/11 Australian Commando Sqn. was sent out on patrol to find a large group of Japanese soldiers.

As we started to go up a steep hill, our scouts disappeared from the edge of the road. Lieutenant Ross, who was in command of the section walked up the road. As he approached the crest of the hill, two or three machine guns opened fire on him. Lt. Ross was hit and fell on the shoulder of the road – Trooper Paddy (forget his surname) was hit and killed.

The section took refuge in a creek running west to east – Corporal Hall and I saw Japanese soldiers running towards the creek – we ran down the creek to meet them - they went to ground. Corporal Hall went back to get the Bren gun and two magazines (60 bullets) and gave it to me. The Japs jumped up and were running in a crouching position toward us, I opened fire on them and they all hit the ground. Corporal Hall got up on his knees to check how many I had hit. Immediately he was hit by rifle fire in the shoulder or upper chest. I pulled him into a safe position, he crawled back up the creek to the main body of 3 Section. I crawled over to Corporal Connors who had a better view of the Japanese.

An enemy soldier popped up and shot Corporal Connors in the forehead; he died immediately. I killed the soldier with a short burst from the Bren gun as he was reloading his rifle. I went back and joined the main body of 3 Section in the creek.

Lt. Ross was calling out instructions to our radio operator. I decided someone should try and rescue Lt. Ross – the longer we stayed in that position, the more casualties we were going to suffer.
As I climbed up the hill pushing the Bren gun in front of me – I got to within four or five yards of Lt. Ross – he told me not to come any further as they (the Japs) were waiting for me (how correct he was).

 I came under heavy machine gun and rifle fire.

Lt. Ross pointed out where the machine gun was firing from. When they stopped firing, I fired a burst of nine or ten bullets into their position – they did not return fire.

Another machine gun opened fire on me, it was so close I could feel the heat and smell the cordite and blast from the muzzle of the gun. The bullets were going over my head as I was in a depression in the ground. I reached up and forward to break a branch off a shrub so I could get a better view and copped a bullet through my right hand. It was a mess, broken bones sticking out the back of my hand. I saw an enemy soldier aiming a rifle at me, as I tried to swing my machine gun, I received a terrific whack to the left side of my head. I thought I was dead, but could hear rifle fire and Lt. Ross saying “Sorry old man”. 

I did not move and pretended I was dead – I knew he would not miss a second time from that distance. Fortunately the Bren gun was pointed at him; I came up fast, he pointed his rifle at me – no time to aim, I pressed the trigger and he was thrown backwards.

As I crawled over to Lt. Ross to give him my water bottle, I felt a jarring pain in my chin. I had copped another bullet. Lt. Ross had massive bullet wounds to his lower chest. I felt very sorry for him, as I liked and respected him. As I lay there, I tried to stop the bleeding with an old sweat towel. How could I on my own, with a smashed right hand, drag Lt. Ross down the hill to the safety of the creek?

Suddenly it was silent and I could hear Japanese officers and N.C.O’s talking and giving orders. “Hell” I thought, “I’ve only got twelve or fifteen bullets left in the magazine”.

I looked up and saw a Japanese Corporal or Sergeant throw something at me. I realized it was a grenade. It stuck in the ground four or five feet from me – all I can remember is a flash and smoke and a lot of pain to my face, eyes, and mouth. Fortunately I placed my right hand over my right eye – otherwise I would have been totally blind for life. I was covered in blood and couldn’t do much about the bleeding.
Reinforcements and three Australian tanks arrived. Lt. Ross was dragged down the hill to the creek but died soon after.
 I crawled down the hill and was immediately placed on a stretcher bearing jeep and taken to a casualty clearing station and taken by aircraft to the 2/6 Australian General Army Hospital on Mouratai Island. The doctors, sisters and nurses were wonderful to me and I cannot speak to highly of their care. After many months I was brought back to Concord Army Hospital Sydney. I was discharged from the army – medically unfit 8 November 1945 at Redbank Queensland. 1443 days in the A.I.F. – I was also a member of the 5th Light Horse Regiment, Gympie for about six months before joining the A.I.F. – Number Q6087.

Trooper Dale Herron was awarded a M.I.D (Mentioned in Dispatches) for his action on this day.


Wilfred (Wilf) Herron entered the Military Services with the Aust Imperial Forces                                                 9th March 1946 - 30th June 1947  Interim Army     1st July 1947 - 2nd April 1948

His Service Number is      QX500170
The total period he served was      756 days
Active Service Australia                254 days
Active Service overseas                 491 days           (British Commonwealth Occupation Forces - Japan)
Discharged Date                         2nd April 1948
Military service      Between 9th March 1946 - 2nd April 1948 - Aust Imperial Forces, BCOF (Japan)

B     Henric Jillett 
       2.1                        Herbert George Jillett married Ethel Ellery
                        2.1.1     Henry George Jillett  WWII

C.    Fannie Jillett married   Richard Roberts
       3.1    Mary Cela Roberts married Dr Esmond Shirley Joske WWI      Captain of 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance

D.    Amy Jillett married  Harry Wilson Williams
       1.              Lucy Jillett Williams married William Wilson and  secondly Robert Ashton Nicholls                who had married Ruby Lee Gow.  She died giving birth to her son, and Lucy's                               husband died when her son was one.  Lucy raised the children.
                        1.1       Frank Ashton Nicholls   WWII
       2.              Eileen Kate Williams married George Gustav Porta      WWII

Qld. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of QX17167 Gunner Robert Edward Jillett, 2/10th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) ...

  • Qld. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of QX17167 Gunner Robert Edward Jillett, 2/10th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) ...

Qld. Paybook photograph, taken on enlistment, of QX17167 Gunner Robert Edward Jillett, 2/10th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He was one of over 2000 Allied prisoners of war (POW) held in the Sandakan POW camp in north Borneo, having been transferred there from Singapore as a part of E Force. The 500 Australian and 500 British POW's who made up E Force, left Changi on 28 March 1943, on board the S.S. DeKlerk arriving at Berhala Island (adjacent to Sandakan Harbour) on 15 April 1943. The POW's were held there until 5 June, when they were taken by barge to Sandakan. The next day they were transferred to the 8 Mile Camp, which was about half a mile from the B Force compound. Gunner Jillett, aged 25, died as a prisoner of the Japanese on 5 June 1945. He was the son of Edward Frank and Flora Kathleen Cameron Jillett, of Clayfield, Qld. He is commemorated on the Labuan Memorial Panel 2. (Photograph copied from AWM232, items 4 and 5. Personal information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Database.)

Robert Edward Jillett d1942 Sandrakan
Arthur Bruce Jillett  POW Japan

Thomas Frank Jillett tried to enlist, but was in a essential position in grazing.

After completing some primary education at  “Greendale”, he and his brother Jack (Tuffy) attended the Church of England Prep. School in Toowoomba, and for the rest of his formal education went to Church of England Grammar School in Brisbane.  Following this he was employed as a jackaroo at “Thylungra” eventually being promoted to sub-overseer.  Due to his father’s failing health, he returned to “Greendale” as an overseer, becoming at the age of 27, manager of both “Greendale”and “Gartmore” stations, in Queensland.   

With the outbreak of World War Two, he endeavoured to enlist, but due to his essential position in the grazing industry, he was prevented from serving in the armed forces.  With the threat of Japanese invasion, he joined the Australian Defence Corps, and was instructed in guerilla warfare and spent many nights away from home.  An air raid shelter was built and preparations were made for a scorched earth policy.

E.    Tasman Jillett      Served in Boer War

Boer War       The Fourth Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse - Victorian Units.

A Battalion organised upon the same system as the Second, except that its establishment consisted of two companies from Victoria, one from South Australia, and one from Western Australia.

For details of pay, establishment, and clothing, vide; 2nd Battalion. The battalion staff prior to embarkation, also comprised a Lieutenant quartermaster (Western Australian Officer), making six officers in all, plus a chaplain. In the other battalion the quartermaster had come with the Western Australian unit.

Departure and Return

The battalion staff and Victorian units embarked on 26th March, 1902, comprising 17 officers, 235 others, with 375 horses. One died; 2 officers, 30 others were struck of in South Africa; 15 officers, 204 others returned.

SS Templemore at Fremantle, 8 April 1902

The Battalion staff and Victorian units left in the transport Templemore, on 26th March, 1902. On 2nd April, arrived at Adelaide, and received the South Australian squadron; proceeded to Fremantle, and there, on 7th, half the West Australian squadron was embarked; the remainder to follow in the transport Englishman.

Arrived at Durban on 22nd April, and disembarked on the following morning . Encamped at the Show Grounds until 24th; than entrained to Newcastle, Natal, and arrived on 26th, and encamped at Kitchener’s Kop on the veldt, about 3 miles from the town. On 27th, the battalion was inspected by General Burn-Murdoch, Commandant. On 10th May, paraded at 2 a.m., and proceeded by order to Wool’s bridge, Buffalo River, where some Boer delegates were to cross on their way to Vergeeniging, the scene of the peace conference.

On 13th, started to march for Volkrust, Transvaal, thence to entrain for Elandsfontein, which was arrived at on the 18th; and there the battalion remained until 24th June, during which time it was engaged in refitting, sending sick horses to sick horse farms, and obtaining remounts. On 28th May, General Oliphant inspected tho battalion, and spoke in complimentary terms of the drill, and the cleanliness of the horse lines. On 1st June, news was received of the peace proclamation: subsequently officially confirmed, with a notification that every NCO and man was to receive 1s. 6d. worth of field stores, free, from the Field Force canteens – a concession to the troops which is said to have cost $20,000. On 7th June, a squadron, under Captain Collins, proceeded to Pretoria to take part in the service which was held next day to celebrate the cessation of hostilities. The Commanding Officer, the Second in Command, the Adjutant, and Captains Thorn and Macdonald also attended.

On 23rd, all homes were handed in to the remount depot. On 24th, the battalion entrained for Newcastle, arriving on 25th, and encamping on their former ground. Here the Australian troops were mobilizing previous to their return. On 28th, three officers and about 250 NCO’s and men of the battalion entrained for Durban, there to embark on the Manchester Merchant; these were followed on 2nd July by ten officers, to join the Britannic. The remainder were ordered to embark in the Norfolk on 7th; but this transport being unable to accommodate all, Colonel Johnston and Lieutenant Robertson, with the balance, took passage by the Drayton Grange, which arrived at Port Melbourne on 7th August.

2320 Private Tasman JILLETT[1]

Tasman's son was known as Tasman Maitland. 

Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954), Saturday 25 May 1918, page 4 Mr Tasman Maitland, a member of the Townsville 'Bulletin' staff, who has joined the colors, was yesterday presented by the staff with a wristlet watch, pipe and purse. The presentation was made by the manager, who expressed the hope for Mr Maitland's safe return to the office. Mr A. H. Cooper, engineer, and Mr. A. O. Penny, in whose department Mr Maitland was engaged, said a few words in recognition of the good qualities as a workman, and man of the departing soldier.   Mr Maitland will spend a week with his parents at Charters Towers before leaving for south.

The Relatives ft Friends of Mrs. T. Maitland. of Kennedy Street. Sandgate. Mr. and Mrs. F Croning (Norman Park). & Family are Invited to attend the Funeral of her beloved Husband, their Father. Father-in-law. & Grandfather. Tasman Maitland (formerly let "A.I.F.) . to leave the Funeral Parlour. 45 Adelaide Street. City, after service commencing To-morrow (Tuesday) Afternoon. at 2.15 o'clock, for the Crematorium. Mt: Thompson.— ' CANNON & CRIPPS. LTD.. Funeral Directors.               MAITLAND.— Shorncliffe Lodge. No. 420. U.G.L.Q.— Officers & Brethren of above Lodge are invited to attend the Funeral of Wor. Bro. Tasman Maitland. to leave as per Family Notice. —By Order W.M. SCOTT

Another 19 year old was also serving his name was Private Seddon.  His aunt married Robert Jillett's great grandson.  What would Robert and Elizabeth think, because Private Richard Seddon, was the son of the New Zealand Prime Minister, and in fact his mother even visited him on the Battlefront.
However it is the grandsons of Charles Dowdell and Susannah  Jillett, whose stories are possibly quite unique.

They had three sons serve in the Boer War, and one, Bernard Clare Morrisby, lays forever buried in a small grave alongside other Australians.  His name is remembered on a Memorial at Colesberg, in South Africa[1].  It is on the lower right of the base.

There was another young Tasmanian who lived close by, and who enlisted in Boer War. His name is John Hutton Bisdee. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions in the Boer War. fought in South Africa in 1899. He enlisted again in World War I, along with some other Bisdee Family members.  John died in 1932 and is buried at Jericho.

John was not the only one to be awarded the Victoria Cross, also awarded was Lieutenant Guy Wylly.  As a 20-year-old, he became a lieutenant in the Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen, raised to fight in the Second Boer War.

Tasmania is not a large State within Australia, and yet 811 young men enlisted. Twenty six did not return. John Bisdee didn't waste time in enlisting, his service number is 24.

The First Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen, was made up of men on the land, from the farming communities.

Bisdee? familiar name, well his second cousin is the Mayor of Southern Midlands Council, and the Bisdee family are in my own extended family tree.

John Bisdee is also, through marriage, related to the Morrisby boys, and to the Durnford Family Tree.


[1] Photos supplied from fellow Boer War researchers

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