REMEMBERED: Private Matthew Frederick Hampson died in action 100 years ago.
REMEMBERED: Private Matthew Frederick Hampson died in action 100 years ago.

Bundy boys in 'forgotten' war

GALLIPOLI is the first thing most Australians think of when discussing the carnage of the First World War.

But for Bundaberg man Darryl Hampson and his family, the conflict on the Western Front, in what was the Third Battle of Ypres, was most bloody.

Private Matthew Frederick Hampson, who was in the 31st Battalion 8th Brigade 5th Division, was killed in action on October 11, 1917, on the Western Front.

Fondly know as Fred, the East Bundaberg man was a renowned cyclist in the region, before he traded in his two wheels for army greens.

"It's been 100 years since it's happened and a lot of people don't know it happened," one of the latest generation of Hampson men said.

"We all know about Gallipolli, but that was just the start - in these books it says no one really talked about this battle because of all of the horror.

"There was that many people in mourning, no one wanted to talk about it. He (Fred) knew what he was getting in to because there was no conscription, it was all volunteers and they needed blokes because of all the ones that were wiped out in 1915 and 1916.

"From September 20 through to November, (Australian soldiers) made the offensive move to take Passchendaele ridge - this is in Belgium.

"On the September 26 they hit Polygon Wood, my grand-uncle, had a win there, although they lost about 5000 casualties - the losses were heavy."

 

Fred loved to cycle according to Darryl Hampson.
Fred loved to cycle according to Darryl Hampson.

Mr Hampson said the objective was to take Passchendale in what was the "worst part of the war".

"No part of the war was good, but this is where they were in the mud and the slush and that's where we lost most of the causalities - I've got photos here where at Polygon Wood they were obliterated with shellfire," he said.

"That's how my grandfather's brother was killed, by shellfire.

"Most of the names on the monument in the middle of town, are men who fought in this battle."

 

Private Matthew Frederick Hampson's letter from his location in France to his brother.
Private Matthew Frederick Hampson's letter from his location in France to his brother.

A letter written by Fred when he was "somewhere in France" to his brother has been kept in the family and details the constant conflict.

Part of the letter reads:

"Well Vic I am over in a place were the big guns go off...

"I haven't had many letters from home, they must have gone to the bottom of the sea there is so many boat(s) getting sunk.

"I suppose you haven't got all my letters I have wrote one every week since the day I landed in England, I suppose I will get a big packet of letters one of the(se) days, it will take me a week to read them all.

"The weather is starting to get a bit cold now and we are in for a good time in front of us, this winter here is worse than England so you can guess what sort of time we are in for.

"Vic you should see the dogs pulling the fruit carts about here and they can pull big loads they beat the goats... Well Vic I hope you all have a good Christmas this time think of me when you are having it... will be a good one with Bullie beef and biscuits..."


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