Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Private Alexander Howard Blencowe KIA
100 years ago today.
The Blencowe family lived for many years in the One Tree Hill district. Alexander was born here on 6 May 1887, the youngest son to Robert and Isabella Rankin Connell.
Robert’s father John, was born in 16 December 1798 at Brackley, Northamptonshire, England. He settled in One Tree Hill and worked as a wheelwright and painter. He married in 1821 to Mary Drinkwater who was born at Brackley in 1802. Robert married Isabella in 1865. They had the following children;
Arthur Robert born 21 May 1873 at One Tree Hill
William Francis born 24 April 1875 at Kersbrook
Edith Maud born 26 Oct 1877 at One Tree Hill
Ernest John born 16 June 1880 at One Tree Hill
Henry Hurtle born 11 April 1884 at One Tree Hill
George Alfred born 20 Jan 1886 at Para Wirra
Alice Annie born 28 Feb1888 at Sawpit Gully, Para Wirra.
Alexander became a farmer, and was farming with his two elder brothers on their property called the ‘Olives”. He enlisted in the AIF as a 28 years old on 2 September 1915, and was appointed to 48th Battalion, D company 2nd Depot Battalion, A.I.F.
The 48th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 16 March 1916 as part of the “doubling” of the AIF. Roughly half of its new recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 16th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 16th, the men of the new battalion hailed mainly from regional South Australia and Western Australia. The new battalion formed part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division. It became known as the “Joan of Arc” (the Maid of Orleans) battalion because it was “made of all Leanes” - it was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ray Leane, his brother was the adjutant, and several other relatives were scattered throughout the battalion.
He sailed to the Middle East on 11 January 1916 and disembarked at Suez from the “BORDA’’ and taken on the strength at Tel-el-Kabir. He then proceeded to Alexandria and from there to Marseilles, France. He was then in the 48th Battalion.
The 48th’s first major battle on the Western Front was Pozières. Here, it was tasked with defending ground captured in earlier attacks by the 2nd Division and entered the firing line on two separate occasions - 5 to 7 and 12 to 15 August. During the former period the battalion endured what was said to be heaviest artillery barrage ever experienced by Australian troops and suffered 598 casualties.
He fought in France until he was seriously wounded in action from multiple gunshot wounds and fractured legs. He died of wounds in No.3 Casualty Station on 1 September 1916. In June 1916, just before the opening of the Battles of the Somme, the 3rd and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations came to Puchevillers. Plots I to V, and almost the whole of Plot VI were made by those hospitals before the end of March 1917. Puchevillers British Cemetery contains 1,763 First World War burials.
He was buried in Puchevillers Cemetery 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens, France. His effects and plaque was at first sent to his mother in 1923 and later it went to the eldest brother Arthur Robert of Claremont Street, Mile End, Adelaide.
He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 19114/15 Star. Alexander’s name is listed on the One Tree Hill memorial.
Photograph from One Tree Hill Institute Memorial
Research by Local History volunteers Pam & Dave Gallery