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Sgt Oscar Baumann [1896-1916]
Australian War Memorial H06303

Oscar Eric BAUMANN

Regimental Number
10
Rank
Sergeant
War Service
Egypt, Western Front
Prior Military Service
Senior cadets and Citizen Military Forces, 74th Infantry
Enlistment
21 Jul 1915 at Keswick, SA
Embarkation
18 Nov 1915 from Adelaide, SA, on the HMAT A2 Geelong
Next of Kin
Mother – Maria L. Baumann, Elizabeth St, Eastwood, SA
Date & Place of Birth
21 Jun 1896, Hahndorf, SA
Parents
Maria Louise nee TEMME and Christian Heinrich (Henry) Johannes BAUMANN
Marital Status
Single
Siblings
Three brothers, five sisters
Occupation
Apprenticed joiner, completed 3 years of 5-year apprenticeship to Hackett & Harris, Adelaide
Physical Description
5 feet 7 inches, 146 pounds (170.2cm, 66.2kg)
Eyes blue, Hair brown, Complexion fresh
Religion
Lutheran
Fate
Killed in Action, 20 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France. On German Death List - aged 20
Place of Burial
No known grave
Commemorated
V.C. Corner, (Panel 4), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified
No
General
A Y DNA donor has been tested and we await results.

The Baumann Family at Home

Oscar’s older brother, 2561 Private Walter Oscar Baumann, enlisted on 16 October 1915 shortly after Oscar. Walter also went to Egypt but on 15 May 1916 he developed an inguinal hernia and was evacuated to Australia for an operation. He arrived in Melbourne on 22 July - unaware that his brother had been killed two days prior - and was eventually discharged in January 1917 for medical reasons. It was one of Walter’s Bowman descendants who offered a Y DNA sample and, as at 10 March 2021, we are still awaiting results.

The family placed memorial notices in the newspaper on the anniversary of his death and it is clear that Oscar always remained in the memories of his parents and his eight siblings - Minnie, Henry, Johanna, Olga, Walter, Elsa, Rudolf and Emma – and their families.

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Photo of the headstone for an unidentified Australian soldier at Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, Fromelles, France where family still hopes that Oscar may be buried.
source Fromelles Association of Australia

1915 – Keen to do his duty

Oscar was the youngest son of a well-known Hahndorf family in South Australia. He had served with the voluntary cadets during school and continued afterwards with the Citizens Forces. Keen to do his duty but under the prescribed age, he obtained his parents’ consent to enlist.

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19 July 1915, Parents’ approval, exactly one year and one day prior to his death at 20 years of age.
source NAA: B2455, BAUMANN, Oscar Eric – First AIF Personnel Dossiers 1914-1920, page 8

Despite being only 19 years old, he was promoted to Lance Sergeant a month after signing up and was promoted to Sergeant on 1st November 1915 just prior to embarking overseas with the 32nd Battalion. It transpired that the troopship which carried Oscar’s battalion, the HMAT A2 Geelong, was making its last voyage as it collided with a supply ship shortly after disembarking the men in Egypt. It sank with no loss of life on New Year’s day in the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt.

Oscar’s family




Oscar’s father, Christian Heinreich Baumann, came to Australia in 1877 on the Peter Godeffroy bound for Port Adelaide. He was aged 27 and his last place of residence is listed as Grevesmühlen, Mecklenburg, a fact confirmed by the German newspaper of the time. His mother Maria Louise nee Temme was born in South Australia in 1859 of German parents.

The Baumann family resided and operated a store at 63 Main Street, Hahndorf – a modern day picture of which is included here.

The Baumann family resided and operated a store at 63 Main Street, Hahndorf – a modern day picture of which is included below.

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Current view of Baumann's house and store - 63 Main Street, Hahndorf, South Australia
source Google Earth 2020

In her book, 'Hahndorf - A Journey through the Village and its History' [2002], Anni Luur Fox outlines some of the history of the Main street property and of the Baumann family:

“The building was completed in 1887 for Christian Baumann and his wife Mary (christened Marie). She was born into the well-known Temme family of Springbank, which operated a bluestone quarry that supplied stone for many Adelaide buildings including Bethlehem Lutheran Church. They also had a market-garden in the foothills.”

'Hahndorf - A Journey through the Village and its History' [2002], Anni Luur Fox

And later, the author writes:

“Christian Baumann had completed an apprenticeship as a draper before coming to Australia in 1877 in the ship “Peter Godeffroy”. He had married Mary in 1881. By 1883, he had bought August Meyer’s drapery business at 63 Main Street, Hahndorf. In three years the business had grown to allow for the grand new building to take shape. Christian and Mary continued running the store and taking part in community life until 1905 when they moved to Eastwood.

“The couple had nine children. The eldest was Hermine Emma Elise, called Minnie, born in 1882. She married Gottfried Eduard Paech, generally known as Ted, in November 1905. Their first child Hazel born in 1906, was followed by five others over nineteen years. A tiny widow aged 83 when I met her, Minnie had a remarkably straight back, a keen eye and a sprightliness that belied her years.

As a small girl she had taken part in planting Hahndorf’s avenue of trees in 1885. Her great-uncle, Rebensberg vigneron Eduard Schroeder, had been the originator of the scheme, and like the rest of their large family circle, the Baumanns joined in the celebrations. It must have been truly memorable, for Minnie instantly burst into the tree-planting song composed for the occasion by Teacher Ey at the Lutheran School

“Happy are we today. Bells are ringing, birds are singing ….”

Knowing that Mr Ey’s students had sung in German that day I asked why she sang in English. She replied, “Paechs went to the Lutheran school. Baumanns went to the public school because Mr. Ey spent too much time in the pub. Parents paid four pence for each child in Grade 1, six pence for Grade 2. No-one stayed in Grade 1 for long!” It was a wry comment on her parents’ view of the parish school.”

'Hahndorf - A Journey through the Village and its History' [2002], Anni Luur Fox

It was important to the Baumanns that their children learned to speak English without a German accent. Accordingly, the Baumann children went to the Hahndorf Public School. Oscar’s brother Walter even anglicised his name to Bowman in later years. During the war, there was strong anti-German sentiment with almost forty Lutheran schools closed and German-language classes banned. The town of Hahndorf itself was renamed Ambleside to avoid persecution.

1916 – His duty nobly done

Oscar was posted missing in France on 20 July 1916 and his name appeared on the German Death list dated 9 September 1916. His personnel records show the translation of an undated German message which states:

Voucher - Herewith is confirmed a Death Card according to which Australian Prisoner of War Sergeant O.E. Baumann, Iden: Disc 10, 32nd Btn. died on 2/7/16. Iden: disc handed over by Intell: Off. Of 6th Army Hd. Qrs. 17/8/16.

Source: NAA: B2455, BAUMANN, Oscar Eric – First AIF Personnel Dossiers 1914-1920, page 34
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Oscar Eric Baumann KIA
source NAA: B2455, BAUMANN, Oscar Eric – First AIF Personnel Dossiers 1914-1920, page 28

Note that the date, 2 July 1916, is believed to be a misprint and was treated as such as the Assistant Adjutant General ruled on 3 October 1916 that Oscar be reported as killed in action on 20 July 1916. Accordingly, Oscar’s name was added to the list of British Dead and he was struck off strength on 20 October.

The Fromelles Association would love to hear from you

Fromelles Association of Australia

Contacts

The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).

Donations

The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).