Sunday, April 7, 2013

Who was "Shorty" Jackson?

Shorty Jackson on the left, and James Simonsen on the right. 
James Andrew Simonsen's grandson says that his grandfather had a great mate from the war called Shorty Jackson, and the photo above shows Shorty Jackson on the left, and Jim Simonsen on the right.

The problem is to identify Shorty Jackson.

James Simonsen embarked in 1915 with the 6th Field Ambulance.  He was dispatched to join the MEF on Gallipoli Peninsula on 30 August 1915.    A few months after the evacuation he was transferred to the 12th Field Ambulance, and embarked to join the MEF in France.

The photo of Shorty Jackson shows him as a Staff Sergeant.   I have searched the Embarkation rolls using the search terms 'Jackson' and 'Field Ambulance', and by checking their B2455 records only found two men who achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant who embarked with a Field Ambulance unit.  This doesn't mean someone didn't transfer in from a non-ambulance unit, but I'm inclined to think that those who did were not likely to rise to the rank of Staff Sergeant without experience in a Field Ambulance Unit.

The two men on my shortlist are Henry George Jackson who embarked and returned with the 1st Light Horse Field Ambulance Unit, and Herrick Jackson who embarked with the 4th Field Ambulance who likewise returned to Australia with his original unit.  Of the two men, Henry George Jackson was the most likely to have known James Simonsen both before and after the war, as they both came from Ascot Vale.  Herrick Jackson, on the other hand enlisted and was demobilised in South Australia.

The only period of service where they are most likely to have met up with each other was on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  After the war Henry and James possibly joined the same RSL at Moonee Ponds, and continued their friendship that way.

But is the man in the photo Henry George Jackson?  Henry never married.  His next of kin was named as his sister, Elizabeth Sophia Jackson who lived in Maribyrnong Road, Ascot Vale, and he had other brothers and a sister, so perhaps there is someone out there who is able to say whether or not Shorty Jackson is Henry George Jackson.  Anyone?


  1. Isn't there a height on enlistment papers? He is either going to be quite short, or very tall, given the Australian way of nicknaming a redhead "Blue", a tall bloke got called Shorty

    So a guy of average height is unlikely to be called Shorty? Maybe?

  2. There is indeed. Henry George Jackson was aged 45, 7 feet 7 and a half inches tall and 12 stone. (Which description I think the man above resembles). I looked at all the service records of all the Jacksons who embarked with a Field Ambulance unit, and I was surprised how short most of them were - one was only 5' 3". But they didn't all become Staff Sergeants, so it was easy to eliminate most of them. James Simonsen was 5 feet 8 and a half inches, so it occurred to me that the nickname might have been ironic - just a private joke between the two of them. I have a cousin who is three weeks older than me, so I always like to introduce her as my "much older cousin".

    1. I keep thinking of "Tiny" Pywell, the manger of the Maffra Sugarbeet Factory. He was something like 6'7".
      But 7 foot 7 inches is extremely tall!

  3. That would be 5' 7 and a half inches. Just another problem of Daylight Savings!

    1. I was thinking that he was really tall!!!

      Is this a tall story????