Serial Number and Rank: 2761, Private
Birth: 1889, Tomerong
Parents: Richard and Ellen Nelson
Enlisted: 29 July 1915. Abode: Tomerong
Next of Kin: M. Mrs E Nelson, Tomerong
Service: 20th Battalion, 6th Reinforcement
Honour Rolls: RSL Honour Roll
Congregation Church Milton
Milton Town Memorial
Oswald Nelson’s WW1 service is remembered on the Milton Ulladulla RSL Honour Roll, the Milton Congregational Church Honour Roll and the Milton War Memorial as well as the Nowra Showground Memorial Gates, the Nowra Post Office Shoalhaven Honour Roll and the Nowra Public School Honour Roll.
Oswald Mathias Nelson was born 1889 at Tomerong, the son of Richard Nelson and his wife Ellen nee Duncombe. He enlisted was finalised at Liverpool in July 1915. He was assigned to the 6th Reinforcements of the 20th Battalion. His unit departed from Sydney aboard the HMAT Euripides A14 on November 2, 1915, disembarking at Egypt.
By this time the ANZACs had been withdrawn from Gallipoli, and were being re-assigned, with this Oswald was transferred to the 56th Battalion in February 1916. Local serviceman Eric Millard who was with the 3rd Battalion wrote home in February 1916 from Egypt, writing that the water is not good, very hard, but plentiful.
“Met Les Chappie, who has got quite fat. Also met Mr. Wright who used to teach school at Brooman about two years ago, he is in the same company as Oss Nelson. Oss Nelson, Les Chappie and myself went out to the Pyramids on Sunday, and had a pleasant time. The Pyramids are wonderful. When looking at them one cannot help wondering how the great stones (6 ft. square) were got into position, and no machinery those days. As you look up at it, the top seems to reach to the sky. Next visit I hope to have time to climb to the top. We had our photos taken on camels in front of the sphinx. The sphinx is another wonderful piece of work, carved, I believe, out of the solid rock. As you look at it you think it is smiling at you. There is a hole where the nose ought to be. It is said that Napoleon shot the nose off with a cannon ball.” wrote Eric Millard.
In June 1916 Oswald and the 56th travelled to Marseilles is southern France, and in July 1916 they started fighting on the front line, including the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. In late November 1916 Oswald was received a shell wound to his left leg, which eventually established gangrene. Oswald in time was transferred to the London General Hospital in January 1917, where his left leg was amputated.
Oswald retuned home in December 1917, after spending some time at the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Southall England. He then was admitted to was the Australian Military Hospital at Randwick, now known as the Prince of Wales Hospital and was fitted with a prosthesis for his leg. Oswald was medically discharged on a war pension in May 1918. Oswald received the Victory Medal, the British Star and 1914/15 War Medal.
He ran a bakery at Tomerong, and then moved to Huskisson, after which he moved to Sydney. Oswald died in 1953 at Marrickville and his wife Eleanor was a member of the War Widow Guild on Australia.
The 56th Battalion had seen most of the severe fighting in France, during WW1 and worthily maintained the reputation of the Anzacs but at very severe cost. In May 1923 there were war guns located in front of the Milton Town memorial; this would have been the 3 inch (75mm) trench motor and others, which was given to the people of the Milton Ulladulla Community by the NSW Trophy Committee. It had been captured by the 56th Battalion at Bellecourt on October 29, 1918. Many of our local lads served with the 56th Battalion including Bruce Wynter Warden, Henry Cooley, Oswald Nelson and Clarence Riley.