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Joseph Henry Clampett - World War 1  Honour roll

Joseph Henry Clampett

The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 20 August 1917 published the following:

Gunner J.H. Clampett, of Junee, has been killed in France. He was seriously wounded at Lone Pine and returned to Junee. On recovering he joined the Artillery.

And on 5th December 1917, The Sydney Mail published the following photo with the simple caption: Gunner J. D. [sic] Clampett, Junee Junction  Killed.

Joseph Clampett, son of John and Mary Clampett and grandson of Joseph Henry and Ellen Clampett, enlisted in the Australian Army at Sydney on 21 August 1914, he was 26 years old . His enlistment papers show his birthplace as Cootamundra NSW and his religion as Roman Catholic. He was a tall man, just over 6 foot and weighed around 12 stone with a dark complexion, blue eyes and light hair.

 private Joseph Clampetts army number was 196. On 19 October 1914 he embarked for the Middle East with G Company 4th Infantry Battalion per HT Euripides. Following further training he embarked from Alexandria for Gallipoli per HT Lake Mitchigan on 5 April 1915 and was one of those who landed on the first ANZAC day  25 April 1915. He was severely wounded in action at Gallipoli on that first day.

 The official Australian historian of the First World War, C.EW Bean gives an idea of what it was like for the Australians as they left the boats in the early morning of 25 April 1915:

They found themselves on the foot of an exceedingly steep, almost precipitous hill 300 feet high which, except for a minor lower knoll around which the boats grounded, rose straight from the bank that bordered the shingle.

The Australians ran across it some fixing bayonets as they ran. They dropped their packs; then, after three minutes for taking breath in shelter from the strong Turkish fire, came the crucial moment of decision, what to do. Each party could see only dimly beyond its own members, but nearly all leaders took them at once straight up that long precipitous height. It was too steep for normal hill-climbing  they had to help themselves by their rifle butts and haul themselves by the stems and roots of low holly and arbutus scrub that thickly covered the slope. The height took some quarter of an hour to climb. In that light men could be seen only if they moved. In that respect the Turks had the advantage and a fair number of the climbing men were wounded and left hanging among the scrub. [i]

Joseph was evacuated to Greece via the HMTS Seang Choon and admitted to the First Australian General Hospital, Heliopolis on the 30 April 1915. He returned to Australia on 10 June 1915, for recuperation from a bullet wound to the thigh and a recurring infection, embarking at Suez per HS Kyarra and disembarking at Melbourne on the 17 June 1915.

 On 23 November 1915, Joseph became a Gunner and given a new army number - 10021. He was transferred to the 13th reinforcements of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade on 23 November 1915 and left Australia once more on 17 December 1915, for the Middle East, per the HMAT Berrima . From Alexandria he embarked for France on the 23 March 1916, disembarking at Marseilles on the 29 March.

 On 26 May 1916, Joseph was transferred to the 21st Field Artillery Brigade, then on 13 April 1917 he was transferred yet again, this time to the 5th Battery, 1st Divisional Ammunition Column as part of the British Expeditionary Force .

 From December 1916 to April 1917, Joseph was in and out of hospital with gastric related illness. During this time he was transferred to hospital in England and had 15 days furlough as part of his last trip there. He returned to France on 13 April 1917.

 Joseph was killed in action in Belgium on 31 July 1917 (one hundred years and two days since the first family member, his great grandfather David Nowlan, had arrived in Australia). The exact place of Josephs death was not recorded but it occurred during the third Ypres battle (Battle of Pilckem Ridge) which commenced on 31st July 1917. Bean records the following specific information about Australians in the Battle of July 31:

Early in the day the infantry whom the 2nd, 1st and 5th Divisions artilleries were supporting were reported to have reached the second German line and all these batteries had to go forward...The brigades of the 1st Division ...advanced at the hour laid down, 6 am. Captain Glendinning had reconnoitred a route, and Major Byrne, a spare battery commander of the 1st Brigade, having left Dickebusch with the teams shortly after midnight, now led the column, 4th, 5th, 6th, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 102nd Batteries, in that order, across the battlefield. Pack horses, seven pairs for each gun, followed the battery limbers, so that each piece would have 108 rounds on going into action.

the whole battlefield was sprinkled with bodies of infantry moving up for later stages of the attack, prisoners trailing back, mules going forward with signboards, and tanks sliding along the tracks, while above, under a low ceiling of dull cloud, aero planes wheeled so thickly that the pilots had constantly to avoid collision.

The front of the battle should then have been a mile and a half ahead, but machine-gun bullets were whistling about, coming from the south-east, and, as the batteries diverged to take up their stations, the depression was bombarded in a manner which suggested that they had been seen. Under this fire the batteries took up their positionsDuring the day [two of the Brigades] had 16 officers and 137 men hit. [ii]

Keegan gives a similar but more general version of the events:

The bombardment, which had begun fifteen days earlier and expended just over four million shells ...reached its crescendo just before four oclock on the morning of 31July. At 3.50 am, the assaulting troops of the Second and Fifth Armies, with a portion of the French First Army lending support on the left, moved forward accompanied by 136 tanks. Though the ground was churned and pock-marked by years of shelling, the surface was dry and only two tanks bogged-though many more were ditched later-and the infantry also managed to make steady progress. Progress on the left, towards the summit of Pilckem Ridge, was rapid, at Gheluvelt less so. By late morning, moreover, the familiar breakdown between infantry and guns had occurredThen at two in the afternoon the German counter-attack scheme was unleashed. An intense bombardment fell on the soldiers of XVIII and XIX Corps as they struggled towards Gheluvelt, so heavy that the leading troops were driven to flight. To the rain of the German shells was added a torrential downpour which soon turned the broken battlefield to soupy mud. [iii]

The outcomes of the day saw huge numbers of casualties but little progress was made in the face of great odds. By 4 pm, when the rain had started to fall, it seems likely that Joseph Clampett was already dead.



Joseph Henry Clampett was buried in the Reninghelst New Military Cemetery which is about two and three quarter miles south east of Poperinghe.

Along with his personal effects, Josephs mother received his 1914/15 STAR, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Scroll, Memorial plaque and Kings Message.


Later the Australian Defence Department awarded an ANZAC medal to all who served in Gallipoli , Josephs medal is inscribed J.H. Clampett

[i] Bean, C.E.W. Anzac to Amiens, A shorter history of the Australian Fighting Services in the First World War, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1968 reprint, p. 86

[ii] Bean C.E.W., Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18. Vol 1V, The AIF in France 1917, Angus and Robertson Ltd, Sydney, 1941 p.708-709.

[iii] Keegan John, The First World War, Hutchinson, London, 1998, p387.

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