Saturday, 8 July 2017

Private Ernest Francis Hahn from Australia, who was buried in Southern Cemetery in 1915 aged 22

It began with this simple grave stone in Southern Cemetery to a young man who died far from his home having crossed the world to fight at Gallipoli.

He was Ernest Francis Hahn who had been born in Redesdale in what was then still “the colony of Victoria” in Australia on June 23 1893, and left Melbourne in the December of 1914 ending up on the shores of the Ottoman Empire in the ill fated Gallipoli campaign.

He was wounded in early May with gunshot wounds to his chest and died here in Manchester at the General Hospital of enteric fever on June 25 1915.

It is a story that could be replicated many times but what marks this story out is that David Harrop posted the picture on a social network site in response to a request for information about Private Hahn's grave in Southern Cemetery from a relative and almost immediately he received a reply from Margaret Cooper in Australia, who supplied David with the story of this young man and concluded with that it was “nice to see the photos at Southern Cemetery and that he has such a peaceful resting place.”

And with Margaret's permission I was able to access a wealth of family material  which gave a context to the life of young Ernest who was the son of Heinrich Frederick Hahn who had been born in Germany in 1843, settled in Australia in 1865 and married Jane Rose in 1870.

Mr and Mrs Hahn had fourteen children had worked hard and were well respected in their home town.

Amongst the documents were Ernest's birth certificate, his obituary and his ANZAC medal along with much more about his brothers and sisters.

What also makes this new link with Margaret's family all the more fascinating is the sight of an Australian birth certificate which differs from those issued in Britain and which provided a wealth of additional information not included on our own.

All of which has added to my own knowledge and wish to go looking for my own Australian family.

So we all win and I shall close with Margaret's reply to my last email, "thank you for telling the story of Ernest Hahn in your blog. 

Gradually the stories of the occupants of the lonely graves are being told and it is nice to know people care and remember them and want to record who they were and something about their lives..............I think Australians are surprised at the respect shown by the English towards the war graves."

And here of course I have to mention David and his  unique collection of memorabilia from both world wars, some of which is permanently on show a in the Remembrance Lodge.

Picture; the grave stone of Private E R Hahn, 2015 from the collection of David Harrop, and Private E R Hahn's ANZAC medal courtesy of Margaret Cooper.

Additional material courtesy of Margaret Cooper

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