Archive for January, 2008

In search of Humphrey Scott

24 January, 2008

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Obviously when writing a unit history, one of the most important characters will be the commanding officer.  Much of the unit’s fate, success or failure would depend upon this man, as well as its level of morale, skill and discipline.  To many of the rank and file he would become something of a father figure, and indeed their lives would often be placed in his hands.

The longest-serving and most influential commander of the 56th Battalion was Alan Humphrey Scott, DSO.  He took command of the unit from its creation in February 1916 in Egypt, and led it for nearly two years, until his tragic death in action in October 1917.  For our history it is vital to find out as much about this man in order to better understand the organisation he led.

We do have a few resources on him at present, including a few mentions in the Official History, an article in Reveille and an Australian Dictionary of Biography entry.  We do also have a few brief insights on him from Williams’s two books.

But of course what we’d really like is to find the descendants of Humphrey Scott, if any remain.  We’d be delighted if we could turn up personal letters, diaries or perhaps a photo or two (hopefully a better one that that shown above from Reveille).  There are only two other known photos of him, both whilst still a major in 4th Battalion; one on Gallipoli, the other in Egypt just before taking over the 56th.

Any leads or suggestions on finding Scott’s family would be most welcome.

Devilishly handsome looking chap wasn’t he?

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Writing about Louverval

15 January, 2008

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Recently I’ve been writing about the battalion during the early months of 1917.  Most of the events seem fairly mundane, but interesting nonetheless.  They started the year on the Somme, slowly pushing forward through the mud, then the frost and snow towards Bapaume.  Then during March they were pursuing the Germans as they retreated back to the Hindenburg Line.  As April rolled around, the battalion became involved in their first set-piece, full battalion attack on the small hamlet of Louverval.

Well, I’ve found researching and writing about ‘my first battle’ very interesting, and also very challenging.  I was able to find quite a good amount of information to work with, however I think I made it harder for myself because I approached it from the wrong end, so to speak. (more…)