‘Egypt’ The Interwar Years: The Funeral of Richard Gurney Peckover

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For most of its operational life R.A.F Abu Sueir near Port Said in Egypt was associated with training. Opening in September 1917 the station hosted the No 4 Flying Training School from 1 April 1921 which remained at Abu Sueir until 2 September 1939 when it moved to RAF Habbaniya in Iraq.

The images I received this week are from the funeral of Pilot Officer Richard Gurney Peckover who died in a flying accident near Abu Sueir on the 17th October 1924, age 25. His Airco DH.9A F2807 fell quickly from 800ft and burst into flames 2km north west of the station. Pilot Officer Peckover was laid to rest in the Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery, plot M9 Row A Grave 7.

There are 372 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War and 291 Second World War burials buried or commemorated within the cemetery at Ismailia. The cemetery also contains 297 non war graves, chiefly of servicemen of R.A.F Abu Sueir and their dependents, mostly dating from the inter war years.

I’ll be doing further research in an effort to uncover more of Richard Peckovers story, till then Sir ‘Blue Skies’ #PerArduaAdAstra

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Acknowledgements: With grateful thanks to the War Graves Photographic project for the pictures from Ismailia of P.O Peckovers headstone.

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/