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HANSON, Richard Davies


Richard Hanson [Also spelt Hansen in some documents] was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1884. He was the grandson of Sir Richard Davies Hanson, Chief Justice of South Australia. He joined the Northern Territory Police on the 1st of December 1911. His prior occupation was recorded as “clerical”. A single man on enlistment, he was described as being 5 feet 9 inches tall and 9 stone in weight. He was posted to Anthony’s Lagoon Station from 3rd March 1912 to the 15th May 1914. From the 18th August 1914, he was stationed at Borroloola. He is also reputed to have served for sometime at Newcastle Waters after leaving Borroloola. It is not known exactly when he left the Northern Territory Police Force. He recorded his occupation when enlisting in the AIF in 1916 as ‘Mounted Police’. Later when supplying information to the Australian War Memorial for the memorial scrolls his family added ‘Commonwealth Force’to his occupation. Richard enlisted as No. 417, of the Fifth Reinforcements, Ninth Machine Gun Company on the 21st June 1916. He embarked from Melbourne on HMAT[3]A38 ‘Ulysses’ on the 25th October 1916. Disembarkation took place in Plymouth England, on the 28th December 1916. He had several postings in England before joining the Machine Gun Base in France on 2nd March 1917. He was admitted to hospital in France described as ‘sick’ from the 10th to the 27th of April 1917. He subsequently joined the Ninth Machine Gun Company. On the 8th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines in Belgium, a bullet wound or wounds to the abdomen fatally wounded Richard. He died of his wounds at the Eleventh Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Messines, Belgium on the 8th of June 1917. Richard Hanson is commemorated in France in the 285 Bailleul Communal Cemetery extension and on panel 178 of the Australian War Memorial Canberra. Richard died participating in the Battle of Messines, which was part of the series of actions collectively known as the Battle of Paschendale or the Third battle of Ypres. The Australian official history records the action on 7/8th June 1917 as involving advances by eight attack Battalions of the Third Australian Division. Prior to the advance nineteen great mines, which had been tunnelled out under the German trenches and packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives, [This event has recently been the subject of an Australian movie.] were exploded under the German Lines.[4] Describing the battle the Australian official historian Charles Bean, at 593[5] said, ‘With a roar the machinegun barrage broke out.’ It can be assumed that the Ninth Machinegun Company, in which Richard was serving, was in the forefront of this action. The official history recorded that in this action the Ninth Machinegun Company suffered nineteen casualties [Casualties included fatalities, wounds, missing in action and those taken prisoner.]. One of the fatalities sadly was Richard Hanson. During action by the Company during the previous night, the Companies war diary records that four of its members were killed and seven others were wounded in action. The Officer Commanding the Company maintained the war diary of the Ninth Machinegun Company. That diary is now held in the Australian War Memorial Canberra. It is also available on the internet. [www.awm.gov.au] the daily extract details Richards’s death. “Messines 8.6.17 Consolidating guns. At dawn, our barrage was again opened and continued for a few hours. During the day the enemy shelled the line again heavily mostly with 5.9 [inch]. In the afternoon, No. A gun moved to its new position in the green line. At dusk, our artillery again opened its barrage, which continued well into the night. The enemy retaliation was heavy. Barrage /Guns. Replenished ammunition during the day. Strengthened positions. Answered supposed SOS at about 8.15pm [rounds per minute] fired for 45 minutes. Signal appeared to be enemy flare. Died of wounds, Pte Hansen R.D. Wounded in action Lieut Gleeson S.R – Pte Blinman C.J2nd Lieut Anderson evacuated, resulting from wound received in action 7.6.17 ‘Shock’.


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