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World War I accordion from the Australian War Memorial

May 26, 2012

The owner of this accordion was an Australian who was in Gallipoli.  The Australian War Memorial historical site has several accordions in it, I didn’t expect to see this.  Looks almost new, almost 100 years old.  These things seem so sad sitting in museums.  Like the photos and captions around them they usually don’t convey the horrors they witnessed.

Quoting from their site:

One row button accordion :

Sergeant H J Hewitt, 24 Battalion AIF


ID number:  REL38370
Title:  One row button accordion : Sergeant H J Hewitt, 24 Battalion AIF
Maker:  Unknown
Place made:  Europe
Date made:  c 1915
Physical description
  • Brass;
  • Felt;
  • Leather;
  • Mother of pearl (shell);
  • Wood;
Wooden bodied diatonic accordion. One end incorporates eight brass-and-wooden treble keys mounted on a projecting keyboard with a tone pull stop mounted upright at each end of the keyboard. The keys and their corresponding stops are finished in mother-of-pearl. A brass handle is mounted to the underside of the keyboard and appears to have been remounted a centimetre up from its original position. The other end features a large sprung brass bass key within a protective wooden recess. The four-fold bellows are of soft leather bound in decorative paper. The body is realised in a dark wood with decorative pearling strips framing the treble end. Some damage is evident to two of the pearl key covers and the felt pads are dried and distorted. There is no maker’s identification.
Used by 432 Sergeant Herbert John Hewitt, born London 19 September 1889. A draper working at Stephens & Sons Drapery Warehouse in Bourke St, Melbourne, Hewitt enlisted on 20 March 1915 and was assigned to B Company, 24 Battalion. He embarked for overseas service aboard HMAT Euripides from Melbourne on 10 May 1915 and saw service at Gallipoli where he was promoted to Corporal on 30 November 1915. He married Marguerite Shaw on 10 June 1916 at Leyton, Essex. After rejoining his battalion in France, Corporal Hewitt was wounded on 28 June near Camiers, suffering a shell wound to his right arm and thigh. He was evacuated to hospital at Tunbridge Wells, England, making a steady recovery. In late March 1917 Hewitt was transferred to the nascent 65 Battalion and was promoted to temporary Lance Sergeant on 25 July 1917; by late August he was a full sergeant. When it became obvious that 65 Battalion would not be completely formed, Hewitt was transferred back to 24 Battalion in France on 19 October 1917 and remained with them until after the Armistice. He then returned to England where, from 1 December 1918, he formed part of the staff of the Overseas Training Brigade at Sutton Veny. He evenutally returned to Australia on 1 August 1919 aboard the Ormonde and was discharged on 30 September.

[Do go look at the Australian War Memorial site.  It’s well worth your time.]

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