The Australian War Memorial's Heraldry collection contains a number of commemorative badges and brooches which display a high level of beauty and craftsmanship combined with poignant individual stories. A recently donated brooch demonstrates these characteristics excellently.
This fifteen carat gold brooch was one of four privately made for the Hislop family in memory of their son and brother, Allan Henderson, who died of wounds on 18 October 1916 while a German prisoner of war.
Allan was born at St Mary’s, NSW on 6 October 1895, the fourth of six children (five surviving to adulthood) and only son of David and Annie Hislop. David and Annie were married in Brisbane in 1889 and relocated to Sydney after the birth of their first child, Evelyn. After the birth of their last child, Beryl Irene in 1890, the family returned to Brisbane, where David died in 1913.
On 4 September 1915 Allan enlisted in the AIF as a member of 25 Battalion. Joining up alongside his best friend Alec Peters (Alexander Drew Peters) both men were taken on by 10 Reinforcements. Allan and Alec were just 19 years of age but both had already seen a number of years service in the militia and the naval cadets respectively.
Allan was also a gifted athlete and was noted for his excellence as a boxer and footballer. As a member of the Blue Star Football Club Allan played in and won the 1915 Queensland Rugby Football League 4th Grade Junior Premiership.
Embarking from Brisbane for overseas service on 28 March 1916, Allan arrived in France on 5 June and joined up with 25 Battalion in the field on 16 July. At this time the battalion was yet to take part in a major battle on the Western Front but would do so in the coming weeks at Pozieres. At midnight on the night of 28/29 July, the battalion made their first attack during which Allan went missing. However, he was not confirmed as a prisoner of war until a month later. He had arrived at Gottingen Prisoner of War Camp on 7 August and was admitted to the camp hospital suffering wounds to his left hand and thigh. Hislop’s left hand was amputated and in the proceeding months he developed numerous abscesses on his body. He quietly passed away from an abscess to his heart at 8.30am on 18 October 1916.
Allan was buried in the neighbouring Gottingen Military Cemetery, however he was reinterred in Niederzwehren Cemetery in 1924 when four permanent cemeteries were established to house the graves of Commonwealth servicemen who had died in Germany. This cemetery is in the German city of Kassel, approximately 165kms south of Hannover.
After Allan’s mother and sisters were informed of his death they arranged to have four of these magnificent brooches made in his honour to commemorate his war service. One was made for each sister – Evelyn, Meg (Margaret) Essie (Annie Estella) and Beryl. Only the brooch now held by the Memorial (believed to be Evelyn’s) is known to still exist.
The brooch is in the shape of a shield surmounted by a red enamelled King's crown. In the centre of the badge is a black and blue enamelled 25 Battalion colour patch, a gold machine gun and gold sergeant's rank insignia On a white enamelled scroll above the colour patch is '4057 AHH FRANCE POZIERES 28-7-16. At the base is a black enamelled scroll with 'GOTTINGEN 18-10-16. The brooch is housed in its original blue presentation box with the maker’s details stamped in black on the inside lid.
Endnote: Alec Peters' survived the Battle of Pozieres but was killed in action at Flers on 5 November 1916. He is buried at Warlancourt British Cemetery in France.