IN MEMORy by Pierre Vandervelden

The visit of Commonwealth graves in Communals Cemeteries & Churchyards in Belgium & France

HAZEBROUCK Communal Cemetery (Nord France)

Page 1 The Pictures

Page 2 List of Casualties

WW I plots
WW II plot
The French Wall
The British wall
On 18-08-1916, Regimental Serjeant Major James R. Scott (on the left)
of the Canadian Army Service Corps, have been shooted by one fi his men.
His murderer, Driver Benjamin De Fehr (on the right) have been executed
on 25-08-1916 for this murder.
They are buried Plot I.A.13 and I.A.10.
Pte James Donaldson Gray 27/04/1915 aged 37
For his nephew Dr G.E. Dobeson & Dr H.J. Krijnen
Pte Joseph Henry Morgan 06/09/1916 aged 21
for his great nephew Dave Aitken 
Pte William Ash 14/10/1914
(misspelled as Nash)
William married Annie Ryan at Walsall in 1906 and resided in 31, Bott Lane, Walsall with his wife and three children.
He had only six weeks left to complete his liability as a reservist when war was declared.
William was recalled to the colours on Wednesday 05/08/1914, disembarked in France on Saturday 22/08/1914 and was mortally wounded during in the fighting around Meteren.
for Graeme Clarke and the people of Walsall
2nd/Lt Digby Crunden Cleaver 29/12/1915 aged 17
for David Mole
Pte Avon John Roderique 03/03/1918
An incident that occurred on the Western Front in the opening months of 1918, is both chilling and compelling. It was not reported by the press at the time, as such stories were censored. For the war weary public, the story would have been seen by the authorities as demoralising .
The ‘’Official History of the Otago regiment in the Great War’’ written several years after the war , mentions briefly ‘’A tragic affair occurred in the 2nd Battalion lines on March the 3rd .Captain R J Hill M.C ,and 2nd –Lieutenant D McLean M.M ,were fatally shot without apparent reason by a private of the Battalion Transport ,who ,presumably insane, then shot himself ‘’
Avon John Roderique ,was a 20 year old labourer from Round Hill ,Riverton ,when he enlisted in October 1915. He was posted to the Otago Mounted Rifles as a trooper .His service number was 9/1958 . He was transferred to 8th Southland company, 2nd Otago Infantry Battalion (with rank of Private) while in Egypt ,and then proceeded to France when the infantry elements of the NZEF were sent to the Western Front, post Gallipoli. Private Roderique spent several months on the Western Front as a frontline soldier, and had no reported disciplinary problems.
On the 3rd of March 1918 he was behind lines, attached to the battalions transport section .,near Hondeghem , France.
That morning ,2nd Lieutenant D Mclean went to the transport Sergeant to detail a driver for a mess cart .Private Roderique was summoned , as he was due back with his company at the front.. Five minutes later ,a shot rang out and Lieutenant McLean was shot in with a revolver ,dying instantly .He was found with his hands in his pockets and a bullet wound to his forehead .He had been shot by Roderique (,being a private he was not entitled to have a revolver and this was probably a souvineered German sidearm ).
Roderique then proceeded to go to the Quartermasters Stores where he talked to Captain R J Hill .He was reported as saying to Hill ,’’I believe you are sending me back to the trenches sir ‘’Hill replied to him to go and do his work .Seconds later another shot rung out Hill was seen to stagger and fall .Private Roderique was seen to have a revolver in his hand ,and was rushed from behind by another soldier but Roderique managed to shoot himself through the head .His fellow soldiers reported that he was in his normal mind earlier that morning.
He was buried at the Hazebrouck communal cemetery two days later.
A court of inquiry found that his wounds were self inflicted.
Eye witnesses included ,Lieutenant Colonel James Hardie Neil who said ‘ I am the O.C (Officer Commanding) .No 3 NZ Field Ambulance .This morning at or about 9.30 a.m I was called by a Sergeant of the Otago Battalion to the transport lines at Hondeghem .At the entrance at the east side of the stables I found the body of 2nd Lieutenant McLean .He had not been dead more than half an hour ,and had a wound over his left eye. It was obviously a bullet wound was his cause of death ,as his hands were in his breech pockets and there was no sign of a struggle it was obvious he had been taken unawares when shot .I was then taken to the Quartermasters Store of the 2nd Otago Battalion and in an ambulance car ,the body of Captain Hill .He had a bullet wound to the side of his head that was obviously the cause of his death >in the yard I found the body of a private of the same Battalion. He had been dead no longer than a quarter of an hour .He had a bullet in the roof of the mouth .There was no sign of other injury to the body, from the position of the wound could only have been self inflicted’’
Sergeant John.Willliam Sim , 9/81 stated ,“”I am Transport Sergeant of the 2nd Battalion ,Otago Regiment .I was working on the limbers at about 9.30 am on the 3/3/18 .2nd Lieutenant McLean came down to notify me as to detail another driver for mess cart as Private Roderique was being returned to his company today .About 5 minutes after, while I was in the stable, I heard a shot fired and immediately after I saw a head protruding from underneath the tarpaulin at the end of the stable ,not knowing at the time what really had happened until I went outside the stable and saw 2nd Lieutenant McLean lying on his back ,shot through the forehead .I immediately sent for a doctor and gave what attention I could to Lieutenant McLean. I also gave orders that no one was to touch the body .I looked around for Private Roderique but he was no where to be found .Having an idea that he may have gone to the Quartermasters Stores ,I followed him there .When I arrived the first thing I saw was Captain Hill lying on his face in the Quartermasters Store ,with a wound to the head .He seemed to be dead ‘’
Private George. Armstrong Turnbull 8/3777,states.’’ I belong to the Transport of the 2nd Battalion Otago Regiment.At the stables about 9.30 am on the 3/3/18 ,I was grooming my charger which was tied up just inside the stable door .I heard the report of a firearm which startled the animal. As soon as It got quietened I went to see what had happened On lifting the wind screen over the stable door ,I found Lieutenant McLean lying on his back with a wound in his forehead .He had both hands in his trouser pockets.He did not seem to be quite dead then.’’ Private Turnbunn also said that he saw Private Roderique at 8 o’clock ,and said he was joking and laughing at that hour and seemed in his normal state of mind.
Another witness Private Alexander Ballantyne 13305 made the statement,’’I am employed at the Quartermasters Stores of the 2nd Otago Regiment. At about half past nine on the 3rd of March ,I saw Captain Hill coming into the Quartermasters Stores .shortly after Private Roderique came into the stores and said to Captain Hill ,’’I believe you are sending me back to the trenches ,Sir’’ Captain Hill told Roderique in reply to get out of it and do his work. .A few seconds afterwards ,as I was putting away the brushes, I heard a shot fired .On turning around I saw Captain Hill stagger and fall ,and with Private Roderique with a revolver and I caught him from behind at the same instant he shot himself through the head .’’ Ballantyne had seen at 8.30 am and then again at,,he seemed to be in his normal state of mind.
The last witness ,a civilian, Suzanne Lobbuduz of Hondeghem .tells ‘’ At about 9.15 am I saw a soldier pointing a revolver at Lieutenant McLean after the later had passed on his way down the street .The soldier then followed Lieutenant McLean at a few yards distance .Five minutes later I saw this soldier come running back towars the Quartermaster’s Stores. Fearing that he may harm ,I ran to warn Captain Hill .At that moment I saw Captain Hill come out of his office to go to the stores .The soldier asked Captain Hill ,’’are you going to send me back to the trenches’’ Captain Hill said ‘’No’’ and turned around to speak to me .At that moment the soldier fired a revolver wounding Captain Hill in the head .Another soldier rushed at the one who fired the shot and tried to disarm him ,but before he could do so the soldier with the revolver shot himself through the head’’.
Of the two men murdered that day,Scotsman, Duncan McLean was a Main Body man,service number 9/383, from Lady Barkly,Winton. He served on Gallipoli where he received a gun shot wound to the head He recovered and was back at the front 2 months later He was awared the Military medal for acts of gallantry in the field in France .He gradually rose up the ranks ,receiving a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in late 1917 and was appointed the 2nd Otago battalions transport officer.
The other officer involved was Roland Justice Hill, a married man,with two young children,from Dunedin. He enlisted as a Private, service number 8/1506, and sailed with the 3rd reinforcements,Otago Infantry Battalion ,rising up the ranks to be Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Major and then commissioned ,rising to the rank of Captain .He also won a gallantry award ,the Military Cross ,in January 1918 ,for ‘’conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty ‘’ and was also Mentioned in Dispatches
No one knows why this tragic incident took place. Perhaps Roderique snapped at the thought of being sent back to the frontlines. Had he not taken his own life, he would have been charged with murder with the possibility of facing the firing squad .5 men were executed in WW1 for either desertion or munity .There was no entrances of murder reported in the NZEF.
Capt Roland Justus Hill & 2nd/Lt Duncan McLean are buried side by side in Hondeghem Churchyard.
Story compiled by Iain Davidson
Pte Thomas Robertson 26/04/1915 aged 25
for Jack Stuart

926 casualties

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Casualties informations come usualy from Commonwealth War Graves Commission, see links for more informations © Pierre Vandervelden - Belgium