Search This Blog

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Our Anzac family – the Nelson Brothers of Ryde, NSW and Wellington, NZ

Their story as researched by the RGTW team
In the previous blog post we have heard the wonderful story of the return of Henry Oscar Nelson’s Dead Man’s penny to members of his family.  In preparation for that event we did some research on who the Nelson family were, and where they came from and discovered them to be an ANZAC family!

Two of the six Nelsons listed on our Ryde goes to war database are brothers, Frederick Andrew Nelson (Service No. 727) & Henry Oscar Nelson (Service No. 728 ), both were born in Wellington, New Zealand.

Martin Nelson of Sweden, married Elizabeth McCracken of Ireland, in New Zealand in 1887.  They had seven children, all born in New Zealand: Charles Leonard, born in 1888 ; Alfred William, born 1889 and died in 1890 in New Zealand; Frederick Andrew, born 1891 ; Emily Jane, born in 1894; Henry Oscar, born in 1896 ; Agnes Maria, born in 1899 ; Maurits, stillborn in 1904.
Frederick Andrew Nelson
Service No. 727
 30th Battalion

The 1911 New Zealand Electoral Rolls record a Martin Nelson as living in Mount Pleasant, Mitchelltown and he was a Labourer.  The eldest son, Charles Leonard is also listed as living in Mount Pleasant.

 Henry Oscar Nelson
Service No. 728
30th Battalion
KIA Fromelles
20 July 1916

By 1915, the Sydney Sands Directory lists, Martin Nelson as residing in Parkes St, Ryde, on the south side between the Masonic Hall and Joseph Parry. This is the address given by Frederick and Henry, when they enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, in July 1915. With consecutive service numbers, the brothers both join C Company of the 30th Battalion, and depart Australia in November 1915. Tragically (as we have already heard in previous blogs), Henry is to be killed in action at Fromelles on 20 July 1916.

Only nine months after that the family is to receive another cruel blow when Martin fell from a tram near Pyrmont Bridge and died in Sydney Hospital.  He is buried in the Presbyterian section of Field of Mars Cemetery, Ryde.  His death certificate shows that he died on 10 April 1917, he was 60 years old, and died from accidental injuries.  His father was Svan Nelson, Pilot, and his mother was Anne Ivanson.  His place of birth is shown as Warberg in Sweden and he had been 3 years in NSW.  The informant was his eldest son, Charles, of Parkes St, Ryde.
Fortunately Frederick returned home safely from the war having married Beatrice Owen in England in 1918.  They settled in Bowden Street, Ryde, in a house they named “Amiens” where they lived, according to the Sands Directories, until at least 1933.  They moved to Victoria Rd, Drummoyne in the1930s and by 1943 they moved to Balmain, until Frederick’s death in 1969.

Elizabeth Nelson died on 8th July 1934 at her residence in 22 Belmore St, Ryde. Her death certificate shows she was 70 years old and her parents were John Charles McCracken, school teacher, and Margaret Henderson.  Her place of birth is shown as Dublin, that she lived in Wellington, NZ for 31 years and 20 years in NSW. The informant was her son, Frederick, of 61 Bowden St, Ryde.  She is buried beside her husband, Martin, at Field of Mars Cemetery.

Frederick Andrew Nelson is listed on the Ryde Town Hall Honour Rolls and St Anne's Anglican Church, while Henry Oscar Nelson is listed among the names of the dead in the Ryde Civic Centre Memorial Book and also on the St Anne's Anglican Church.

World War I Honour Roll of St. Anne's Anglican Church, Ryde


  1. Congratulations on your splendid blog which I just found via the Kintalk Challenge Page.

    I will be reading your posts with interest.

  2. It is nice to see an article dedicated to this important topic. Thank you for sharing.
    Click Here