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DREW, Harold Ormond Stanley MM (1889-1944)

DREW, Harold Ormond Stanley MM (1889-1944)

Harold Drew was born on 9 October 1889, the son of Albert Drew and Mary Bruce nee Thomson.

He was enrolled as a day student at Geelong College in 1903 and his address at entry was Prospect Rd, Newtown. The Enrolment Register lists his date of birth as 1890 however the Victorian Birth Index and other sources cite 1889.

He spent ten years working for Bright and Hitchcock, a Geelong retailer, before he enlisted (No 362) in the AIF, 21st Battalion, on 27 January 1915. He embarked on HMAT A38 Ulysses for Egypt on 8 May 1915, and then on to Gallipoli.

He wrote to his mother from Gallipoli, this letter was published in the Geelong Advertiser:

'Jenkins wishes to be remembered to all. He received the sweets, and was kind enough to bring some round to our dugout. He makes a big effort to visit me every day, I being stationed here while he is more often on the move. Undoubtedly he is one of the best of fellows. We soon got quite used to big guns, bullets, bombs etc, and are always interested watching aeroplanes, seaplanes, etc. We have a most lovely position here, on the top of a ridge - gully down below, and we are facing the sea, which has numbers of boats of all kinds, Red Cross, etc. The sunsets are fine, and the evenings beautiful. Today we collected a supply of wood for our fire, enough for a week or two.

I think I’ll tell you a little about the torpedoing experience. We left Heliopolis on August 29th, entrained for Alexandria, where we boarded the
Southland. All went well for two or three days, till within thirty miles of Lemnos, where we were torpedoed. The wretches put two (or tried to) into us, the first doing great damage to one of the holds, the other missing by a few yards. Six blasts were given by our boat, meaning every man for himself. So we got down below for our life belts, there being no panic whatever. This happened about 9.50 am. As soon as each man got his belt, he went to the deck or space allotted to his section, and aided in the lowering of the boats (thirty-two in all). This was hard work as most of the boats (if not all), had been there for years, and soldiers don’t know much re ropes, etc. The sea was fairly rough at the time, and some of the boats were not lowered as successfully as they might have been. I and others of the Signals section did the hardest work we have ever done for two hours or so, heaving, pulling, etc. Unfortunately I got my left arm bruised, and my right hand cut a little. They are just about right now; they took a lot of attention though. At 12.30 we had lowered eight boats, then I went down the rope into the boat or raft (it had collapsible sides), and we shoved off with forty-eight aboard. After drifting about for about half an hour we picked up one of our mates, who was about exhausted. At 2.30 pm we were rescued by hospital boat. Ten boats came to our assistance, the first arriving fifty-eight minutes after receiving our wireless. We received every attention on hospital boat, and where we remained for three days or so, and were re-equipped. Most of our equipment was afterwards brought from our torpedoed boat, which was brought in slowly and beached. Fortunately I got most of my things, excepting my razor, and a few minor articles. I am pleased indeed to say my letters, papers, revolver, gifts from home, gifts from friends, etc., were all right - but my boots (which most of us took off for fear we should have to swim) were lost. I have another pair, which are fairly satisfactory. From this boat we were transhipped to another boat, which brought us to Lemnos safely.

Our work here is principally telephone, which is interesting; of course it is different to the usual ’phone. Wish you could see our dug-out; it is cosy, plenty of room though, and we have another alongside which we use for kitchen. We get plenty of rice, porridge, bully beef, all nourishing; cigarettes and tobacco are issued occasionally. Have not received the cigars sent from home some time ago (don’t suppose I ever will now), neither have the pipes or tobacco you sent come to hand yet, but they may come next mail. Got papers and News of the Week. Australia Day was a great success, it is wonderful where the money comes from in such hard times. Geelong does exceptionally well.

One morning lately I saw Ray Walters, Sam Heath and Norm Sadler (Old Geelong Collegian), all well; one sees Geelong fellows everywhere. I often have a word with Mac Stewart, who hears every mail from Uncle Willie. I will show him my letter from Uncle later on. I have not seen Alan Scott yet, although I feel sure he is stationed somewhere near this position. A lad came this way to see Farndon yesterday. He was from our gully, but six miles further up, and is in the 8th Light Horse. He knew Claude quite well, so I wrote a long letter to him, which this lad promised to deliver. I hope before very long perhaps to meet Claude. Yes, I knew Gordon Crocker quite well. I had heard of his death over here from other Ballarat lads. Farndon and Williams wish to be remembered to you, have been with them since leaving Broadmeadows; they are great chaps. Hope you received (my) letter, which had a number of small photos, scenes, etc, taken before leaving Heliopolis. The flies are pretty troublesome, but we have been supplied with a yard of mosquito net, which is very useful. As I have quite a number of letters to write, I’ll ring off for the present. I am in tip top health, so don’t worry. Remember me to all inquirers.'

After the Evacuation from Gallipoli he served in France, where he was awarded the Military Service Medal, gazetted 1 January 1918: The citation read:
'An original member of the unit from which he has never been absent. Since coming to France his work as Orderly Room Sergeant has been of sterling worth. He is a most capable NCO and his devotion to duty and work for his unit have made his services almost invaluable.'

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) Collection holds a group portrait of the NCOs of 21 Battalion at Querrieu, France, taken on 27 June 1918, including Sgt H O S Drew MSM. He returned to Australia, embarking on 2 January 1919. He died in 1944.

His brother, Albert William Drew (1876-1939), was also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. p.181-3 (citing Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; The Geelong Advertiser; National Archives; AWM E02580).
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