Trooper John Alfred HANNA - Victim of The Drayton Grange 1902 - 1903

 J A Hanna

John Alfred HANNA returned to Australia from the Boer War in August 1902 on board the Troopship Drayton Grange. Due to overcrowding and unhygienic conditions on the troopship disease such as tuberculosis (TB), even mumps was widespread. Some 17 sailors and soldiers died on the ship at sea between Durban South Africa and Albany in Western Australia. Most troops surviving were taken to the quarantine station at Albany before being allowed to continue on to other eastern ports of Australia. John Alfred Hanna returned to Sydney NSW a few days after quarantine on the SS Coolgardie. He had a sniffle, which he thought was just a cold.

His condition deteriorated after a few months and what he thought was a cold turned out to be the deadly disease TB. In the meanwhile a Royal Commission was set up to determine the cause of the tragedy and who to blame for the disaster. There was an outrage here in Australia. Simply the ships captain and the army officers making decisions on the voyage were held to blame. I did not come across any punishments handed out for their poor judgment, simply admonishment.

The photograph above was taken just a few months before his death.

The ensuing papers will explain the plight and anguish of John Alfred HANNA as he sought assistance from the Australian Government and The Department of Defence. These papers will also spell out the tragic final months of his life as he battled not only the disease but also his Government for whom he served at war, and the tragedy of the final few months of life. It is interesting that after more than 100 years since this tragedy occurred, service personnel killed while on peace time or humane duties or who have died of injuries or disease resulting from active service still have their families fighting the Government for assistance and compensation. During this period of our history John Alfred Hanna's life was only worth £25 ($50).

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This is the SS Drayton Grange. She was built in 1901 at Belfast by Workman Clarke and Co. She was the sister ship to the Oswestry Grange. The officers were well provoded for in accommodation, whereas the soldiers were confined to smaller areas and exposed to steel decks unprotected from the weather and extreme cold. It is no wonder disease such as TB and mumps was prevalent in the ranks. How many others, like John Alfred HANNA died as a result of contracting a disease months after back on Australian soil. I am still researching the results of the Royal Commission that was conducted by the Australian Government shortly after the disaster.

The Drayton Grange was sold to the New Zealand Shipping Co in 1912 and renamed 'TYRONE'. The ship was wrecked off Wahine Point NZ before she was handed over to the New Zealand Company.

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This is the SS Coolgardie that returned John Alfred HANNA and other troops from Albany Western Australia back to Sydney NSW in 1902.

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Here is a newspaper cutting from the New York and London Times in 1902 . This told the rest of the world about the tragedy

Here are newspaper cuttings from two Western Australian Newspapers reporting on the Commissions Inquest into the Drayton Grange tragedy.

Read The Kalgoorlie Western Argus Newspaper article dated 2nd September 1902 regarding - Day 1 Evidence at the Drayton Grange Inquiry. Use your Browsers BACK button to return to this page.

Read The West Australian Newspaper Report on the Drayton Grange Commission's Inquiry - Dated Thursday 9 October 1902. Use your Browsers BACK Button to return to this page.

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