WILHELM CARL MEYER – background information.
He was born on 7/3/1894, son of Johann Heinrich Friedrich Meyer and Louise Christiana (nee Ahrns) at Bright, birth registered at Burra.
He was a brother to Anna BERTHA Auguste Meyer, born 5/8/1880. She married Carl Christian Hentschke, born 18/11/1879. They lived at Moorook.
From this family came Esther Rosina Hentschke, 17/9/1909. She married Heinrich Theodore WILL, 29/9/1907, Loxton. Children born to this marriage included Beryl (Cook), Rosemary (Falting), Dawn (Ransom), and Robert Will. Robert’s children included Debbie who married a Schiller.
In 2017, Debb and her husband were travelling around Europe and had organised with the “Last Post Association” for her to lay a wreath on the 28th September at the ceremony at Mennin Gate, Ypres.
Wilhelm Carl Meyer had another sister, Maria Louise Emma (MARY) MEYER, born 2/7/1882.
She married Johann Gustav Hermann (JACK) KAKOSCHKE, born 22/7/1880, on 30th October 1906 at Burra, and they lived and are buried at Lameroo and are our grandparents.
Therefore Wilhelm Carl Meyer is our great-uncle.
We have information that he enlisted to serve Australia in World War I in March 1916, trained and left Australia on 12/8/1916, aged 22.
He was in the 10th Battalion, 19th Reinforcement, and was killed in action on 21st September, 1917 at Ypres, Belgium.
He is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, Belgium.
We have copies of Postcards he sent home, written from the Mitcham Army Camp, and also a Postcard from Belgium on 21/6/1917 addressed to Mrs J. Hentschke, Jamestown, and signed “Yours as ever – Will.”
Rex and I had always wondered what our relationship to Rosie Falting actually was, and on a visit to her and Trevor she looked up the “Traeger – Nitschke” Family History Book, and showed us Rex and Rosie are 2nd cousins.
Their grand-mothers were sisters, and therefore of course Will Meyer was a great-uncle.
As we were going to be visiting World War I sites on our Europe trip, we thought we should see Will’s grave. Then we found out Debb Schiller was already in Europe, and of all things, we were both going to be at Mennin Gate on 28th September. So, at her instructions, I contacted the Last Post Association, and organised to also a lay a wreath at the evening ceremony on 28th September.
Our Zweck Tour group came from Reims to Ypres that day, travelling along a dual highway; the weather was fine, cloudy and cool, and we drove past lots of Wind Turbines, passed the Somme Battlefields, stopping at War Memorial Villers Brettonneaux. We noted the wide, open farming country. If you put up your head out of the trenches, you would be shot – such beautiful land decimated with heaps of young bodies.
We stopped at the huge Tyne Cot Cemetery and saw Will’s grave. Rex laid the bunch of flowers (which I had made up and brought from Australia in a large shoe box, in his overnight bag, which had been all over Scandinavia and Paris). We took photos.
The flowers were artificial of course – red roses, wattle and foliage.
We had dinner at a Restaurant in the Square at Ypres, before taking the second wreath (in the shape of a cross, and using the same colours of artificial flowers), to the nearby Mennin Gate.
There were 7 other groups laying wreaths that evening, and we had instructions on the protocol. We met Debb and she and a girlfriend, Rex and I all walked across the cobbled gate area to the designated place to lay the wreaths, bowed and then walked back in single file to our places. The bugler played the Last Post, and the usual words were spoken at this daily ceremony. Photos were also taken of the groups, and these were able to be seen on the web site of the Last Post Association.
There was estimated to be nearly 1000 people at this service.
Rex said it was a highlight of our trip to honour his great-uncle in this way, and was so pleased it had been organised. We were there 100 years, and 1 week after Will was killed.
Written by Helen Kakoschke; Rex and I were in Europe Sept/October 2017.