My name is Lance Hamel
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Hamel Family motto from the family crest "He who rubs there is stung there"
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The capture of the town of Hamel and its surrounding areas was thought to be a significant and strategic boon to the Allied cause in 1918. Capture of these areas would provide an important foothold around the Somme area, as well as adding depth to defences on Hill 104 - the Villers-Bretonneux plateau. Perhaps most importantly, this area was the key to the defence of nearby Amiens. Unless they gained control over this area, Allied movements would be blocked between Villers-Bretonneux and the Somme, and mounting an offensive would be much more difficult.
It was high time that the anxiety and nervousness of the public, at the sinister encroachments of the enemy upon regions which he had never previously trodden, should be allayed by a demonstration that there was still some kick left in the British Army. I was ambitious that any such kick should be administered, first, at any rate, by the Australians.
The attack would primarily take the form of an infantry assault, but with significant tank and artillery support. Monash wanted to attack as early as possible, to avoid light, decreasing enemy visibility and protecting the troops from fire for as long as possible.
Planning was conducted in strict secrecy. Dummy installations were created to throw the Germans off, harassing fire was maintained while troops were getting into positions, and no daylight movement of troops was allowed - nothing that would warn that an attack was about to take place. Monash also asked for 18 planes to bomb Hamel, as well as older, noisier ones to distract attention from the noise of the tanks' whereabouts and movements. Several arms of attack were coordinated through the detailed and organised planning of Monash and his senior officers. All decisions and strategies were outlined, refined and formalised in group meetings.
Of the attack, Gunner J.R. Armitage wrote in his diary:
The earth shook and the mind boggled at the concussion.
On 4 July, operations by the Australian Corps against Hamel and surrounding areas were launched. For the first time in the war, American troops acted as part of an offensive. Four companies were sent as attachments to the Australians, in an effort to give the Americans some first-hand battle experience.
The Hamel confrontation was described as a brilliant success. In two hours, all objectives were obtained, and 1,400 German prisoners were captured, as well as many weapons. Australian troops suffered 1,062 casualties, with 800 killed. Although Hamel was a great success for Australian troops, they had entered into battle already holding some strong cards. By July, the German offensives had been all but stopped. New techniques and weapons, such as the successful use of tanks at Cambrai in 1917, an artillery that was more comprehensive and had improved accuracy, and more Lewis guns (light machine-guns), had significantly improved AIF performance by 1918. Better and faster communications were also an integral part of Hamel's success, such as the use of reconnaissance planes. Movements of German as well as Australian troops were marked on maps identical to those held by command below, and dropped down to motor bike riders who then dispatched the maps to the relevant section area. Consequently, Monash and battalion leaders had current information on the progress of the battle in minutes, compared with earlier laborious systems of communications.
Planes were also used to drop ammunition and supplies to troops on the battlefield below by parachute- the first time in a battle on the Western Front that aircraft were used for this purpose. Use of the Mark V tank was also pioneered at Hamel, and would continue to play a prominent role in 1918 battles. Sixty Mark V tanks and four supply tanks were used. In preparation, Monash made the men from the different tank and infantry divisions mix and form friendships, and each infantry battalion painted its insignia on a tank. As well as fostering camaraderie, this made it easier to plan movements, as each tank and battalion were colour-coded and would advance together. In the fighting, only three tanks were disabled, and many Germans troops surrendered when faced with them.
Artillery was used heavily at Hamel to hit German batteries, ammunition dumps and installations. Two-thirds of the artillery power was directed at German counter-batteries, causing many German casualties, and destroying their artillery capability to hit advancing infantry. Combinations of artillery, high explosives, shrapnel and smoke were employed, as well as heavy fire-power (Lewis and 46 heavy machine-guns) to move with the attack.
Infantry, artillery, tanks and planes worked together for over 2 kilometres, with relatively few losses. Monash wrote:
A perfect modern battle plan is like nothing so much as a score for an orchestral composition, where the various arms and units are the instruments, and the tasks they perform are their respective musical phrases.
A civil engineer by profession, Monash perhaps better understood these precepts, and could see their best application when looking at a map of a battle plan. Monash's ability to realise the potential of these weapons when used in combination is what is said to have distinguished him from other commanders in the battlefield.
French President Georges Clemenceau visited Australian troops who had fought at Hamel and said in a speech:
I shall go back tomorrow and say to my countrymen: "I have seen the Australians, I have looked into their eyes. I know that they, men who have fought great battles in the cause of freedom, will fight on alongside us, till the freedom for which we are all fighting is guaranteed for us and our children."
Private Arthur R. Eastburn, 16th Battalion, was killed in action near Hamel, 24 June 1918, aged 23.
On the 5th April 1918, when the enemy delivered a very heavy attack against the position occupied by the Battalion near Hbuterne he went through the enemy's intense barrages with communications for Battalion Headquarters. He showed a total disregard for his own safety and seemed obsessed solely with the idea of getting his dispatches through. He is recommended for distinction. From the Military Medal citation
Attack on Hamel-Vaire 1918, by A. Henry Fullwood. ART02493
Australian and American troops dug in together at Hamel, 4 July- Independence Day in the United States. AWME02690
A tank conducting mopping up operations in a ruined street of Hamel, the day after its capture by troops of the 11th Australian Infantry Brigade, 5 July, 1918. AWME02864
Left to right: Clemenceau walking with Major General E.E. Sinclair-Maclagan (4th Divisional Commander) and Lieutenant General John Monash, during his visit to the Australian troops at the front, 7 July 1918. AWME02527
Private Arthur R. Eastburn, 16th Battalion. AWMH06559
Head, Sir Edmund Portrait of Sir Edmund Head, Governor General of Canada, 1805-68, by Théophile Hamel (courtesy House of Commons, Speaker's Office).
Théophile Hamel, painter (b at Ste-Foy, LC 8 Nov 1817; d at Québec City 23 Dec 1870). Appointed official portrait painter in 1853, Hamel was referred to as the national painter by contemporary journalists, and was throughout his career one of the most popular painters with notables and clergy alike. From age 16 to 22, Hamel apprenticed with Antoine PLAMONDON in Québec C. He travelled to Europe in 1843, studying in Rome and visiting France and Belgium. He returned to Québec in 1846, and opened a studio. He moved to Montréal in 1847 for 2 1/ 2 years before establishing his permanent residence in Québec.
Given the poorly developed communications of the 19th century, the upper classes used artists to make themselves known and spread their influence over either their flock (clergymen), or voters (politicians) or their social circle (professionals). Inspired by Titian, Hamel developed a style perfectly suited to the aspirations of members of the liberal professions. With Plamondon he had developed the technical mastery needed to paint faithful portraits and learned to handle daring chromatic effects, reflections and the rendition of beautiful fabrics.
Hamel refined his sober art during a stay in Italy 1843-46, studying the works of his muse, Titian. Hamel created an interesting gallery of historical figures, including Jacques Cartier, Champlain and General James Murray. He did official portraits of the Province of Canada politicians, now housed in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, and many other portraits of politicians in Québec C, Kingston, Montréal and Toronto. Catholic and Protestant bishops, grand vicars, priests and founders of religious communities all posed for Hamel. Several notaries, doctors and merchants had themselves painted, with their wives and children on 2 separate panels. Except for children, Hamel generally showed only one figure in a given composition.
Four Children and a Dog Oil on canvas by Théophile Hamel, who created a gallery of official portraits and of the aspiring members of the liberal professions and their families (courtesy Musée du Québec).
Hamel's talent allowed him to move in a few years from a farming background to the liberal professions; his brothers could only reach the level of commerce. Hamel possessed a handsome fortune, was captain of the militia and a member of the INSTITUT CANADIEN; he regularly met with the leading personalities of the day, such as F-X. GARNEAU, P-J-O. CHAUVEAU and Octave CRÉMAZIE. His magnificent, lifelike, austere and dignified portraits helped popularize Titian's style. Hamel also taught other artists, including Napoléon BOURASSA, one of the best Canadian artists of the 19th century. Besides its artistic value, his work allows us to study a section of Canadian society in the mid-19th century. Some of the people he painted left no photographs of themselves or their families. Each portrait shows us what a member of the ruling class thought of himself and how he wished the population to view him.
Ange Hamel, the eldest of five children of Joseph Hamel and Marie Louise Fontaine, was born 21 June 1812, at Isle Verte, Quebec, Canada. Upon maturing he became a farmer and in 1837 married Eugenie Moffett, the daughter of the local surveyer, Gabriel Moffett.
Life at Isle Verte was hard and the soil was rocky. Ange decided to try his luck elsewhere and moved to the neighboring parish at St-Eloi. They fared no better there so after much soul searching and discussion with his wife and father, he decided to move south to Minnesota Territory which was just becoming populated with white men.
Ange set out to look over the area and probably arrived in the Territory some time in early 1855. He may have come with his younger brother, Marcel. After arriving at St. Anthony and seeing the banks of the Mississippi timbered with oak and ash trees and the swamps on the western shores of the river, he decided to search further. Hearing of the Big Woods 15-20 miles west of St. Anthony, he traveled on foot over Indian trails to what was later known as Medina and Plymouth Township. It was here that he spied his beloved maple trees.
The soil was heavy and black with few rocks. It would have to be cleared but it would be able to supply his family with food and his stock with adequate hay. The woods contained mostly sugar maple trees which would provide him with a cash crop.
After building a cabin of logs and clearing an area large enough to support himself and his family, Lange sent for them. Joseph O. was away at school in Quebec City and came later, in 1857, but Eugenie and Marguerite-Eugenie, Lange Jr., William, Narcesse, Anaise, and Angele came from St-Eloi to Minnesota Territory in the fall of 1856. Their first year in Minnesota was spent fighting a plague of locusts and a financial panic had hit the country causing a shortage of money.
During the Civil War, Ange, who was too old for military service, watched over the families of neighbors who were off fighting in the conflict. An Indian uprising in 1862 caused Lange to bring his family to Minneapolis for safety. Adele fell from the wagon and broke her arm during the flight.
Ange and Eugenie continued to have children after arriving in Minnesota. The first born after arriving was Euphemie, in 1857. Then came Adele, Francis, Mary and Eugene.
Marguerite-Eugenie had been married in 1857 to Romain Pouliot and was the first child to leave home. She was 14 years old at the time. Joseph left to study law in Minneapolis in 1859 and in 1863 he went to Idaho Territory to prospect for gold. He returned in 1867 to operate the local general store. Narcesse and Lange Jr. both went to the Dakotas to homestead, leaving William at home. Shortly before William was married in 1874, Eugenie passed away. William agreed to take care of the younger motherless children and together with his brother, Joseph and their father, they did so.
As civilization proceeded in this area, a Church was established and built on the edge of the Hamel Farm. It was dedicated in July, 1879, along with a cemetery. The years began to take their toll on Ange. He had worked hard and now he wanted rest. He passed his final days at home and died 26 August 1887 from kidney disease.
That same summer of 1887 the Minneapolis and Pacific Railroad, now known as the Soo Line, was expanding its system to the western parts of the state. A depot was constructed on William Hamel’s land and the area was called "Hamel Station". The agent was kept on duty there more or less continuously for 75 years until 1963, when he was withdrawn permanently. Today that depot exists as a relic of the past to remind us of the struggle of a courageous family to better themselves on the frontier.
NOTE: The following is a transcript from a portion of a tape recording by my late grandmother, Lucile H. Hamel Jones (1896-1995), daughter of Ferdinand (Fred) Hamel. My grandmother left behind a genuine treasure by preserving our family history orally on tape. She is missed by us all.
In the year 1847, Charles Hamel of Mackinac Island, Michigan, was courting Mary Bergeron. Katherine Hamel, of a French Canadian family, warned that if the girl married her son, she would be sorry, because he had an uncontrollable temper. But as most girls of that age, she married him anyway, thinking that he would never be unkind to her. However, she found, to her sorrow, that she had married a cruel, vindictive man. They had five sons and two daughters born to them. Charles was kind to the girls, but to the sons and Mary, he was a terrible tyrant.
Charles was the captain of a sailing vessel. They carried cargo through the Great Lakes, to Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Erie, Pennsylvania. The family lived on Mackinaw Island. The boys were named, Louie Napoleon, Ferdinand Eugene, Anthony Daniel, Arthur Edward and Hamilton Hercules. The girls were Katherine Helen, and Mary. Katherine was always called "Kitty."
When Mary was four years old, she was run over and killed by a team of horses. The boys were put to work with their father on the ship while they were young teenagers. They were never given any wages. Their father collected for each trip, but kept the money for himself. They were Catholics, and the church required each family to rent a pew. If the pay became delinquent, the pew was boarded shut. One Sunday, the Hamels' pew was nailed shut with the board across it. Charles kicked the board off and the family heard Mass as usual. However, he was enraged and never went to church again.
Hamilton was the youngest boy and was required to keep the wood box filled at all times. He dare not fail. One night Charles was out and one of the children woke up with the croup. Mary got up to take care of him and build a fire using some of the wood. The child quieted down and they all went back to bed. When Charles returned and saw the wood box was not quite full, he pulled Hamilton out of bed and beat him unmercifully.
When Louie and Fred, as Ferdinand wanted to be called, were about fourteen or fifteen, they stopped their father when he was about to beat their mother -- the very tiny lady -- and told him to leave. They would care for her from then on, never allowing her to be beaten again.
He packed his clothes and left and they never saw him again. But they knew that he went west to Tacoma, Washington, and died there after a few years.
The boys and their mother moved to Cheboygan, Michigan. Kitty married George Horton and they had a daughter named Mary Louise, later called "Lou" or "Lulu." Fred went to work as a telegraph operator. The other sons, except Louie (who never married), married and moved away. Arthur raised eleven of his fifteen children in Providence, Rhode Island. Anthony was married to a girl born on the island. And they raised five sons in Suiterville, Michigan. His business was commercial fishing, and he shipped fish all over the country.
The youngest boy, Hamilton Hercules, disappeared about the time of the gold rush in the Klondike. His mother’s last letter from him stated that he had had a mine out west and had sold it. And that’s the last she ever heard from him. She thought perhaps he had been murdered for the money.
But many years later, about 1940, Harrison Hamel, who lived in Detroit (the son of Anthony Hamel) had a letter from a Catholic priest at Saint Anne’s Church on the island saying that he had received a letter from Hamilton asking for a copy of his baptismal record so he could get an old-age pension. He had married very late in life and was living in a small town of Hebal, Oregon. He was raising mink. Fred wrote to him to upbraid him for letting their mother grieve so many years for him. She died never knowing what happened to him. His reply to the letter from Fred was that, in Alaska, he became a drunkard and did not want her or his brothers and sister to know -- so he just dropped from sight. Later, however, he had been converted and was now a Christian, no longer a drunkard. The last the family heard from him, his wife had died in a flu epidemic.
Kitty Hamel and her husband, George Horton, moved to Long Beach, California, and that’s where they spent their last days. They died there and were buried in Cheboygan, Michigan. Their daughter, Lou, spent her last fifteen years with Clayton and Laura in Cleveland, Ohio. When she died she was buried up in Cheboygan, too.
I have tried to find info about Hebal, Oregon but I think someone may have the name wrong. I did find that Hamilton H Hamel died in Tillamook County, OR on November 19, 1953 and his wifes name was Luella.
Transcribed by Julie R. Jones, great great great-granddaughter of Charles Hamel.
Antoine Hamel was born in Lorrette, Quebec, Canada in 1791. Catherine Brisset was born in Berthierville, Quebec, canada in 1798. They met and married in 1818 and started their family. They had six children in Canada and then came to Mackinac Island, Michigan (from Montreal) in 1835 where another 3 children were born to the couple. It is believed that Antoine's trade was a baker and, after his death, his wife and son Narcise declared their occupations as bakers in the 1850 and 1860 census reports. It is also believed that Catherine was a midwife on the island and helped to deliver 10 babies.
Antoine died in 1847 at the age of 55, leaving Catherine to support 5 children still living at home, as well as granddaughter Caroline (Anna) Mahony (she was 12 when Antoine died). Catherine died at in 1870 at age 72. Both she and Antoine are buried at St. Anne's Catholic Cemetery on Mackinac Island.
Also buried in the Hamel Family plot is Augustus Todd, husband to their dau...
Alexander Hamel, born Alexis Siffrois Hamel, was born in Trois Rivieres, St Maurice County, Quebec Canada in 1832. His parents Joseph Hamel, born in 1800 in Quebec and Marie Turcot were married in Quebec in 1816. Alexander was one of 11 children. He married Delina Gendron in 1860 in Compton Quebec. He and Delina had 9 children, 7 who survived to be adults. Delinas brother, Peter Gendron started a company building baby carriages. He then got a patent for a new design on a wire wheel and started Gendron Iron Wheel Company. In 1868 Alexander and Delina moved their family from Canada to Toledo, Ohio to work with his brother-in-law at his factory. Alexander was a carpenter by trade so he fit in easily at the Gendron factory where he worked as a forman (1890 US census shows his employment at Gendron Iron Wheel Company located at 603 State Street in 1889 and 1890 as a forman). Two of Alexanders daughters, Leda and Emily, married two Deshetler Family brothers. I have records of most of the ot...
This information is taken from articles found during research on the web, atricles writen by Paul Hamel, e-mailing with distant family members, and in the family history library in Oregon City, OR. I am basically stealing other peoples research and combining it to suit our families history.
The Hamel family originated in France. Hamel ancestors came from Avremesnil in Normandy in the 1600's and the village of Hamel in Picardy in 1202. For over four hundred years, their descendants married only members of other French families. Other families that contributed to the Hamel lineage include Gaudry, Gauthier, Grenier, Lemay, Houle-Desruisseau. Dubeau, Lamothe, Jette, Bergeron, Mailloux, Vallieres, Guien, and Tellier.
The reason why the Hamels left France are unknown, but the events and environment of the 1600's in France might provide some insights as to why they decided to leave their homeland.
During the first half of the 1600's there was much turmoil...