• Nelson Frederick Wellington

Army / Flying Corps
  • 21st Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 6th Brigade
  • Lieutenant

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  • Military Cross (MC)
Stories and comments
    • Wellington at Gallipoli
    • Posted by RGCrompton, Monday, 18 June 2018

    Wellington commanded 'A' Coy at Lone Pine for six days before commanding the first of 21st Battalion to be evacuated. 'A' Coy withdrew from Lone Pine to Shrapnel Gully, taking over Wire Gully from 13th Australian Light Horse (ALH). Careful preparations were made to deceive the enemy. 'Time fused' 22 rifles were set and cook fires and incinerators left alight. Even though there were only two 'quiet' days leading to the evacuation, there was no evidence that the Turks knew what was happening. Lt. Col. J Hutchinson recorded the evacuation is in the War Diary but there is a date contradiction of two days. 'Definite arrangements for the evacuation were announced on the 17th inst when all stores such as signalling gear Medical Panniers & Battn tools were collected & sent down to the beach. On the same evening at 1800 "A" Coy were withdrawn from LONE PINE & rejoined the battalion (less men who had taken over trenches from 13th ALH in SHRAPNEL GULLY)'. Later Hutchinson writes: 'At 1030 [on Sunday 19th] A Coy at LONE PINE were relieved by 24th Batn & joined the Batn in SHRAPNEL GULLY. During the day all surplus store which could not be removed were destroyed. At 1900 our first party of 3 officers & 147 others under Captain WELLINGTON moved off to the rendezvous & then to the beach & embarked. [...] During the day 19th (sic) everything was quiet normal & the whole battalion 24 (except those actually in the trenches) had embarked. [...] The unit embarked safely 25 & had no casualties. [...] The first party landed at IMBROS at 0400 on 19th inst & remained there until 1630 on 22nd when they embarked on a trawler & were taken to MUDROS. They were transhipped to Z75 which left LEMNOS at 0700 on 23rd arriving ALEXANDRIA on the 26th & the party arrived in camp at TEL-EL-KEBIR on the 27th Dec. [...] He left Gallipolli in as dramatic manner as he arrived.

    • The Southlands episode - 02 September 1915
    • Posted by RGCrompton, Monday, 18 June 2018

    WELLINGTON made a dramatic arrival in the Gallipoli Theatre when the transport Southland was torpedoed. On September 2 the Southland was steaming on her course, about 40 miles from Lemnos. The Island of Strati[s] [modern Agios Efstratios or Saint Eustratius and colloquially Ai Stratis] was in sight, 15 miles away on the port beam. The sky was clear, with freshening winds. At 9.43 a.m. the wake of a torpedo could be seen travelling towards the port bow; before the vessel could pay off under her ported helm, the torpedo blew a hole 40ft. by 20ft. in the side, on the bulkhead between Nos. 2 and 3 holds. The torpedo came from the German submarine UB14, a vessel of only 142 tons, built in a German shipyard, then sent in sections by rail to Pola, on the Adriatic, to be reassembled there. She left Pola [the Austrian Adriatic naval base] under the command of Kapitän Leutnant von Keimburg for Constantinople, sinking the British troopship Royal Edward, carrying 1,366 troops, and a crew of 260, of whom 866 troops and 132 of the crew, including the captain, were lost. This occurred on August 13, and the submarine had previously sunk the Italian submarine Medusa It was fortunate for the Southland that the military parade had been set for 10 am, so that most of the troops were already on deck. The casualties were few. As the boats were being lowered, some or the firemen and stewards rushed them as they passed down the vessel's side. The officers soon produced revolvers, and forced the men in the boats to return to the ship to load up with troops. The wireless operator had sent out an SOS, and several other vessels were steaming rapidly to her assistance. Meanwhile, a boat containing the staff of the 6th Brigade, and other troops, capsized as soon as it touched the water. Another boat collided with the capsized boat, and turned over; a third had its forward sails cut when 20ft. above the water, dumping its occupants into the fairly heavy sea now running. Colonel Linton was in this boat. He was picked up after having been in the water an hour and a half, but he died in the French destroyer Massue two hours later. All the rafts were got over the side. Troops set to work breaking up the horse stalls, and dumping the timber overboard, so that if the vessel sank there would be plenty of floatable material for those unable to obtain places in the boats. Seeing one of the rafts drifting away, Private Geoff Smith dived from the boat deck and managed to get it back alongside the ship, when it was rapidly filled. The adjutant of the 21st Battalion, Captain N. F. WELLINGTON (now Lieutenant -Colonel NF WELLINGTON, town clerk of Essendon), summoned the number of men for each raft. Those whose turn was not yet stood there without movement, only their slightly strained faces indicating their inner thoughts, but still they awaited their turn, knowing that the ship, dependent on one bulkhead, might sink at any moment. At 10.15am, Captain Kelk, having been informed that three vessels were coming to his assistance, asked if he could get a party of troops to stoke the boilers, the majority of his crew having left the ship. Volunteers were called for, after the men had been told of the dangers, mid that the bulkhead was bulging badly at the bottom through the great pressure of the rising water. Six officers, [WELLINGTON being the senior according to the Commemorative programme], and eight men stepped forward. [...] Southland was listing so heavily to port and down so much by the bows that her rudder had little effect. Ballast tanks on her starboard side were flooded giving her a list to starboard but she steered better. Ringing slow ahead on the engine-room telegraphs, Captain Kelk felt the vessel move ahead at a speed of two knots. [...] Slowly Southland steamed onwards until nearly 6pm, when she was in sight of Mudros. She was drawing 34ft. (10.363m) forward, and only 18ft. (5.5m) aft, so that with her two propellers partly out of the water she was yawing dangerously. She was still expected to sink at any moment, but the military and naval volunteers with the ship's officers stuck grimly to their tasks. [...] Slowly in the darkness she steamed through the lines of ships in the upper reaches to a soft sandy beach, where she was quietly put ashore and allowed to settle down. Following the Southland incident WELLINGTON was recommended for the Legion of Honour. Despite WELLINGTON being first in the order of merit, the award was never made. It is interesting to note that Maj-Gen Sir John Gellibrand, who commanded the 3rd Division from 1918 to 1922, was second on the list and received the award. Source: Trove: The Story of the Southland (1935, September 7) and the Southland Commemoration programme.

    • Nelson Frederick Wellington in World War 2
    • Posted by RGCrompton, Tuesday, 19 June 2018

    Through out the interwar years WELLINGTON maintained his military contacts, being active in the peace time forces with the command of the 58th Battalion (Essenden Rifles Militia) for 4½ years until October 1, 1938. His illustrious predecessor was Col. (later Major General) Harold 'Pompey' Elliott. The 2nd/2nd Pioneer Battalion was formed on 1 May 1940 and WELLINGTON was given command of the unit. He was assigned to the Puckapunyal military camp near Seymour where the unit was built up to full establishment, equipped and trained during the next six months. He took leave of absence from his job, with the Essendon City Council, for the duration of the war. On 8 June 1941, at the insistence of the British government, General Wavell launched a hastily planned invasion of Vichy-held Lebanon and Syria. Most of the troops were Australians of 7th Div, who spearheaded two of the three columns that attacked from Palestine and Transjordan. Although assured that the Vichy French would offer little resistance, they soon found themselves attacking thoroughly prepared defences that exploited the mountainous terrain; the columns were not mutually supporting, and made variable progress. After a week of fighting the French defenders counter- attacked, exploiting their superiority in armour; the counter-attack soon foundered against stubborn defence, but it disrupted the Allied timetable by several days. The Australians fought the decisive battle on 5-9 July at Damour; this involved a frontal attack across the Damour river as well as fighting in rugged country to the east of the town. Australians also did most of the fighting in the central sector, especially around Merdjayoun and Jezzine, and contributed to the advance in the east once the Allied forces took Damascus. In the action at Merdjayoun, WELLINGTON was blown up, awarded an immediate DSO and returned to Australia. With the rank of full colonel WELLINGTON was the Chief Liaison Officer for the Australian Army attached to Gerneral MacArthur's US Staff during 1942 and 1943. Though badly burnt in an American bomber crash, he survived but retired from active service. But for the crash he would have retired as a brigadier.

    • The Men of the 21st Battalion
    • Posted by jaydsydaus121, Saturday, 7 August 2021

    Snowy River Mail (Orbost, Vic), Friday 3 December 1915, page 4 TORPEDOEING THE SOUTH-LAND. LETTER FROM CAPTAIN WELLINGTON. Captain N. Wellington writes from the Dardanelles on 15th September as follows: Since leaving the Snowy River, I have had very little time to redeem my promise and send you a few lines, but now that we are safely bedded down in the firing line I must try and comply with a little news. As you are prob-ably aware by this time, we left Mel-bourne in the liner and landed at Alex-andria on June 10. We had the mis-fortune to strike the summer season in Egypt, and our training on the Desert near Heliopolis was anything but pleasant. The heat was terrific, and at one reading 120 was touched. This was recorded inside a tent at 1.30 p.m. on a never-to-be-forgotten day. We heard afterwards that this unusual temperature was the result of some desert wind which arose, and were very pleased not to encounter it again. We drilled in the early morning from 6 to 9 - and in the evening from 5 to 7.30. in be-tween times we held "orderly room" for delinquents, and carried on with the usual battalion routine work - which al-ways kept me on the go. At the end of our period of training the G.O.C. in Egypt (General Maxwell) stated pub-licly that our battalion (21st) had not been equalled by any regular or other regiment he had seen in Egypt to date. This was high praise, and had been very well earned. Our boys were splen-did, and, barring the usual "'defaulters" one gets in every regt., one and all worked ungrudgingly and did all in their power to fit themselves for the task in front of them. On the. 29th August we got our marching orders for the front, and you can imagine how pleased we were. The men were actually ready on the parade ground when the bugle sounded "dress for parade," and 20 minutes later when "fall in" blew, every man was in his place before the last note of the call died away. We arrived at Alexandria early next morning, and embarked at once on the transport B11, "Southland." Being adjutant of the senior unit on board, I was immediately made adjutant of troops and naturally our CO was made OC. troops. I might state that prior to leaving Cairo, I saw Mick Cowell and Jack McGlade who were both wounded in No.3 auxiliary to No 1 general hos-pital, Heliopolis. Cowell had received a nasty bullet wound in the chin, which was rapidly healing, and McGlade had sustained an ankle wound. Both were very cheerful on it, and looked as if they would soon be out again. This surmise was disproved the following day when I paid another visit to take them a few cigarettes and some clothing, for I found Cowell had been ordered to proceed to Helouan Convalescent Home, about 13 miles from Cairo, and McGlade had to stay where he was. They both informed me of the death of Jim Cameron. Their regiment, 8th L.H, held a position on Walker's Ridge. An attack was or-dered in which they took part, and Jim was leading a charge on the Turkish trenches when he fell. Being a good sprinter, he was well ahead of his party and was first on the parapet. They saw him fall there, and that was the end. Very few of their regiment came back that day, and they lost their Colonel and sustained a host of casual ties. I can see Walker's Ridge daily from my dug out. Well, to return to our embarkation. We left Alexandria on the 30th and sailed for anywhere. No one knew where we were going, but evidently a German submarine knew we were com-ing, for on 2.9.15, about 40 miles from Lemnos Island, a torpedo hit us on the port side, forward, tearing a huge hole, 40 x 10. Another torpedo was fired, but just missed our stern. We were armed with a 47 Q.F. and the gunner fired one round at the periscope - but missed. The explosion stopped the ship and our Marconi men sent out. S.O S. The ship's siren blew the "submarine" signal, and everyone fell in at "boat stations," Only the day previously we held boat drill and it worked very well. One of my duties as adjutant was the allotment to boats of everyone on board -and you can imagine how pleased I was afterwards to see everyone at their right places. The behaviour of our troops was magnificent. Only those who were told off to boats, hanging in the davits, were on the main deck, the others had fallen in, as if on parade, on the well decks both fore and aft. My duties were to get parties working on the boats, then lower them, fill them, and report to ship's captain as each one left., We could only put 15 in each boat as it was lowered, and called the balance up from fore deck. These men had to jump overboard or swing over on ropes, so you can see it was no easy job. All this time the ship was listing badly and settling down slowly by the head. The torpedo hit us about 11 minutes to 10, and at 11.30 the ship was still afloat and listing further over, but we had got the 40 boats away. Unfortunately a fairly big sea was running, and this caused several boats to capsize and cas-ualties occurred before help could be rendered. Seven boats picked up our S.O.S. call, and these comprised French, Russian and British torpedo destroyers and the British hospital ship Neuralia. Our Brigadier, Colonel Linton, and staff were capsized from a boat early, and 10 minutes after a French destroyer picked him up he died. General Legge and staff were on hoard and he was a model of coolness. I tried to get him away in several boats, but he told me I was not to call him until every man on the ship had been sent away. He calmly sat on a rail smoking a cigarette and did not leave until the last boat. The list of the ship was now very bad, and just before the last boat left the captain of the ship, J. B. Kelk, asked me to get a volunteer party to stoke and man the ship, as he though if he could get steam up he might work his pumps and keep his ship afloat. When I called, 4 of my officers stepped out and one Imper-ial officer and 13 men. We saw the last boat off with the General on board, and then went below with the chief en-gineer to see what could be done. At this time the only people on board were the ship's officers and my little party. We stoked for two hours and got a 200 lb pressure up. One of our officers, 2nd-Lieut. Pearce, took charge of the pump engines and got them to move. This was victory No. 1. We could not raise a sufficient head of steam to do anything to the reciprocating engines, so a signal for stokers was sent to H.M.S. -. She sent 10 aboard, and those tars made our stoking efforts look silly. In an hour's time from com-ing on board, they had got such a good pressure that the captian thought that if the watertight compartments would hold, he would try and do the 40 miles to Lemnos under his own steam. They opened the cylinders and tried, and when the engines moved, you can tell how we "yelled" The upshot of the whole business was that drawing 40ft forward and 20ft aft we punched her into Lemnos, reaching there at 8 45 that evening. As the ship could not float much longer, the captain beached her in the outer harbor at Lemnos. As the harbor was full of shipping, you can imagine the welcome we got. I might add that on our way in, and when down below, the boat gave a horrible lurch and heeled well over. We all got a "devil of a fright" and were much re-lieved to see the clinometer stay at an angle that showed we still had a few degrees to go before she would finally capsize. The steering gear was badly jammed by the explosion, but owing to shortage of hands I bad to take my turn at the wheel, and our "'wake" dur-ing my stay on the spokes was very wobbly - but I took comfort from the fact that it applied to everyone alike. The next day the gruesome task be-gan of saving the ship, and recovering the bodies from below. The naval an authorities sent a party with two divers over, and as they brought our dead boys up I had to identify them, collect their identification discs' and valuables, and notify headquarters. The total killed and drowned numbered 39 including 10 crew and when you consider we had close on 1600 on board, it was a small casualty list.. As a lot of kit had been left on board when the boats got away, we spent two days in collecting and re turning them to the Battalion, which had concentrated from the rescue boats on board another transport. The next day saw me before the Admiralty Court of Enquiry giving evidence, and the Court congratulated me for our good work, and asked me to convey same to the party in my charge. We left Lem-nos for the front shortly afterwards and since arriving, a special army corps order came out from general headquarters thanking the troops for the wonderful discipline shown and generally congratu-lating the unit. I was called upon to furnish a de-tailed report to divisional headquarters, and in doing so took the opportunity of bringing under the General's notice the splendid work of Private Geoff. Smith of C company of ours. A patent raft broke away after being lowered and drifted out from the ship. As we could not afford to lose her, Geoff dived from the boat deck, about 50 feet from the water, swam to the raft and brought it back to the ship. As a big sea was running and nothing to lay on but a rope, you can see he had a great heart even to attempt it, and deserves more credit for bringing his attempt to a suc-cessful issue. This raft then took off over 40 men, who undoubtedly owe their lives to him, as at that time there was not another boat available for them. He is now doing his share in the firing line, and on doing my rounds this morn-ing he was as cheery as ever after being up all night, and we had a few words to-gether and wondered how Orbost and Newmerella were getting on in the recreation reserve or whether there was any football at all. Young Charlie Pleydell is in the same company as Geoff. Smith and last night Dug. Rodwell's regiment landed. The beach is under shell and rifle fire both day and night, and Dug's luck must be be (sic) out; for it was reported to me by Pleydell this evening that he had "stop-ped" a shrapnel bullet in the right shoulder and was on board a hospital ship, from whence he will probably be shipped to either Alexandria or Malta. From what I can gather, the wound is not a very serious one, but will keep him under cover for some time. Roy Ashby is also with us. He is the medi-cal officer's orderly, and has quite sur-prised me by the way he has taken to soldiering. All of our boys are in per-fect health, with the exception of D.R., and trench life seems to agree with them. Bully beef and biscuits three times a day and plenty of shells, bombs and bullets whizzing by all day and night seem to give you plenty to eat and think about. The aeroplanes on both sides are very active, and only this evening a German biplane sailed over and tried to scare us with a bomb. We live in a "dug-out," and as the country is frightfully hilly and steep, we can get a good view of our part of the Peninsula. After being on the spot and seeing the place, we are always talking of our boys landing here on May 25. From a military stand point the place was practically impregnable and the task an almost impossible one. Our predecessors had the right stuff in them, however, and their brave work will not be forgotten by Australian soldiers at least. From my "dug-out" where the CO. and myself sleep, the pathetic reminder of that gal-lant struggle is always before us, for directly ahead and down in the valley we can see the improvised cemetery with its wooden crosses and indelible pencil inscriptions, on the graves of hundreds of our noble boys. To night our mail came in, and you can guess what pleasure it brings, especially so l when I see Orbost raised £1700 and gave 36 boys to the recruit-ing authorities. The job here is worse than Flanders owing to the hilly and precipitous country, and what it is going to be like in the winter when the Pen-insula is under snow is more than I care to conjecture. However, we have been under a lot of trials already and as we have managed, to 'weather' them all successfully, I have no fear of the fut-ure. You will assist our Battalion very much if you can get home of the Orbost ladies to sew up as many rabbit skin coats as they can lay their hands on. If the boys could trap some of those rabbits on the frontage, and the ladies to make the skins up, it would be a practical and useful gift, which would be highly appreciated here. Any wool-len clothing, and particularly mufflers and socks, would also be appreciated, and would do a great deal of good. If these were made up into small parcels and posted to me, registered post, I would undertake their distribution and also acknowledge their delivery. The main thing is to have them addressed properly, as every mail we hear of par-cels being sent, but somehow they never reach us. The only safe way is to leg-ibly address them, and then register the parcel. If you know of anyone sending out any such parcels as described above, kindly ask them to enclose their names on a slip of paper and put it inside, and then it is more than likely the donors will be thanked individually.