Henry Hastings (Harry) Heard
561 Sgt. Henry Hasting Heard was born in Carlton in 1884 to Emma and Robert Heard. He was educated at Princes Hill State School and his occupation in 1909 was a fitter. He lived at Rhyll prior to enlistment, where he was oystering with Bob White, who also enlisted, and they served together. He enlisted as a Private with B Company, 29th Battalion on 7th July 1915.
“The 29th Battalion was raised as part of the 8th Brigade at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria on 10th August 1915. Having enlisted as part of the recruitment drive that followed the landing at Gallipoli, and having seen the casualty lists, these were men who had offered themselves in full knowledge of their potential fate.
The 8th Brigade joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt and proceeded to France, destined for the Western Front, in June 1916. The 29th Battalion fought its first major battle at Fromelles on 19th July 1916. The nature of this battle was summed up by one 29th soldiers: “the novelty of being a soldier wore off in about five seconds, it was like a bloody butcher’s shop.” Although it still spent periods in the front line, the 29th played no major offensive role for the rest of the year.
In early 1917, the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, allowing the British front to be advanced. The Germans, however, made selected stands to delay this advance and the 28th Battalion was involved in defeating a counter-attack at Beaumetz on 23rd March. The battalion subsequently missed the heavy fighting to breach the Hindenburg Line during the second battle of Bullecourt as the 8th Brigade was deployed to protect the Division’s flank. The only large battle in 1917 in which the 29th Battalion played a major role was Polygon Wood, fought in the Ypres sector in Belgium on 26th September.”
Australian War Memorial website.
Sergeant Heard was killed in action on 26/27th September 1917 during the battle for Polygon Wood near Ypres. The Red Cross Files have the story of his death:
“I was in the same company and with him on the morning of 26th September 1917, when, we made an attack on Polygon Wood, near Ypres. We had taken our first objective and after Sergt. Heard had reorganized his platoon, we began the advance to our second objective, having began the advance to our second objective, having gone only a short distance, when he was hit by a piece of H.E. shell in the back of the head killing him instantly. As we moved forward I did not again see him. As far as I can ascertain he was buried where he fell in the field.”
Pte. R.E.P. McGill,
Harry was buried in the vicinity of Polygon Wood but has no known grave.
Divisional historian Captain Ellis described the battle as a ‘fine success’ and Charles Bean wrote of this ‘clean, strong blow’. Bean attributed it, however, to the ‘most perfect barrage that had ever protected Australian troops’ rolling ahead of them like a ‘Gippsland bushfire’. However, like all success on the Western Front, Polygon Wood was won at great cost.
Henry Hastings Heard is commemorated on the Cowes Obelisk, Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour, Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour and the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.
From Forgotten Names, Phillip Island War Memorials by Andrew Box.