Major Herbert Bowen Hamlin DSO (Ismalia War Memorial Cemetery)

Herbert Bowen Hamlin, a Surveyors Assistant, of Narrogin, WA enlisted on the 28th October 1914 into the 10th Australian Light Horse. He embarked from Fremantle on HMAT Surada on 17 February 1915 with 204 men and 230 horses bound for Egypt.

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Studio portrait of Major Herbert Bowen Hamlin DSO, The Australian War Memorial, H00050A refers

After arriving in Egypt in March 1915 the 10th Light Horse set up camp at Mena near the Giza Pyramids and commenced their training. The regiment joined the 3rd Light Horse Brigade in Egypt and served dismounted at Gallipoli. The regiment’s most famous actions were the charge at the Nek on 7 August 1915, and Hill 60 on 29-30 August. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915 the regiment was bought up to strength and re organised to defend Egypt from the Ottoman Army advancing on the Suez Canal.

A small notice from the Narrogin observer states that Herbert was wounded at Gallipoli and sent home on leave to recover from enteric fever (typhoid). Whilst most sources list him as unmarried he appears to have married Mary Grace Louch during his leave in Australia.

Herbert traveled back to the Middle East to rejoin his unit and through 1916 the Light Horse drove the Turks across the deserts of Sinai, participating in the battles of Romani and Magdhaba. In 1917 they were part of the Desert Column that advanced into Palestine. The regiment participated in the bloody battles to break the Gaza-Beersheba line and helped capture Jerusalem. They participated in the Es Salt Raid in May 1918. In August they were one of the regiments re-equipped with swords and rifle boots, and retrained to take a more orthodox cavalry role. In their new role they took part in the rout of the Ottoman army in the Jordan Valley, a campaign the light horse referred to as “The Great Ride”. In September the 10th Light Horse was the first formed regiment to enter Damascus.

In September 1918 Herbert was cited for a DSO after a cavalry charge during the battle of Jisr Benat Yakub:

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‘At Gisr Benat Yakub, on the 27th September, 1918, after forcing the ford, he led his squadron in the face of heavy fire, and charged against the enemy’s position, which he captured after a severe melee. He displayed great courage and dash, and throughout set a magnificent example to his command. Fifty enemy, with three machine guns and two field guns, were captured.’

Although eager to return to his wife and a baby daughter he had not yet seen Hebert remained in Egypt during the 1919 uprisings. In the absence of a large British force in Egypt, elements of the Australian and ANZAC Mounted Divisions, then awaiting embarkation to Australia, were instructed to restore order. Sadly, Herbert fell ill and died of acute pericarditis on the 30th May 1919. He was buried with full military honors in the Ismalia War Memorial Cemetery, plot C. 28.

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Sources:

‘Commonwealth Gazette’ No. 10, dated 29 January 1920

The Australian War Memorial

The Narrogin Observer (via Ancestry.co.uk)

http://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/herbert-bowen-hamlin

Embarkation Roll, Herbert Bowen Hamlin  https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R2050122/

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