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Michael James Hanlon (MM)


Serial No:
Serial No. 6093

22nd Battalion


Michael James Hanlon (MM) - Information

Michael was born in Newcastle on Tyne in England. The Hanlon family later migrated to Australia. When the war began, his mother was living in Newtown, and Michael was living in Picton, where he worked as a bricklayer. At the age of 31, he enlisted in the AIF on the 10th of June 1916 at the Royal Australian Showground in Sydney. At the time, Michael was married to Florence Janet, whom resided in Helensburg East on the North Coast. During training at Dubbo and Liverpool, he was made a Private with the 22nd Battalion. He was then sent overseas, departing Melbourne on the 31st of October 1916 upon the HMAT Argyllshire.

Michael disembarked in Devonport in early January 1917. He was then shipped to France in March, joining the 22nd Battalion in the lines. At the time, the Germans were in the process of withdrawing to a new defence system, known as the Hindenburg Line. The Allies were ordered to chase them, with the 22nd Battalion hitting them at Lagnicourt. The Battalion then participated in the Second Battle of Bullecourt in early May, an assault on the Hindenburg Line. It was a bloody encounter; men fell upon uncut barbed wire mowed down by machine gun fire, but successfully captured the section of line. Later in the year, they fought in the gruelling and costly Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium. As the battlefield turned to slush with heavy rainfall, the men on the Western Front turned in for another cold winter in the trenches. In the new year, the Germans were hoping for a grand breakthrough, launching their Spring Offensive on the 21st of March. They broke through the lines in several places gaining much ground. The Allies were forced to retreat, while desperately trying to halt their advance. The Australian Corps were thrown into action. The 22nd Battalion hit the German onslaught at Hangard Wood in early April. Sadly at this time, his wife back in Australia passed away. Sorrowfully, he had no time to mourn and had to keep going, as the Allies were beginning to push back. They sealed the deal with the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August and Mont St Quentin later that month. At the beginning of October, the unit fought at Montbrehain. On the 4th of October, Michael was working as a stretcher bearer during an attack east of Peronne. During the fire fight the wounded were laying in the open field trapped under heavy artillery and gun fire. Michael already made many trips to the Aid Post, and volunteered again to go out and collect the wounded. In broad daylight in view of the enemy, Michael attended to the wounded, dressing their wounds and carrying them to safety. He continued to gather his mates all day, saving the lives of many whom would have bled to death. For his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, Michael was recommended for an award. The war was soon over. In 1919, Michael was transported back to England. He decided to marry his new love, Catherine Wollard of Streatham, sadly also a widow. They had met previously, while Michael was on Blighty leave. They tied the knot at Wandsworth on the 25th of March 1919. Michael and Catherine along with their child, then set sail for Australia at the end of July.