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Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 1 year, 1 month ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Lieutenant Arther Ernest Percival Mott, Australian Flying Corps



Mott A E P     Sgt    309    Arthur Ernest Percival         AFC    20    Instrument maker    Single    Meth       

Address:    Moonee Ponds, Salisbury St, 73, "Wahroongah"

Next of Kin:    Mott, Elizabeth, Mrs, mother, "Wahroonga", 73 Salisbury St, Moonee Ponds   

Enlisted:    28 Jan 1915       

Embarked:     A67 Orsova 16 Mar 1916   

Prior service:   346 Fortress Coy (AE)



Relatives on Active Service:

Mott A A B Cpl 513 brother

Mott-H-W-2nd-Lt  brother

Mott-J-E-2nd-Lt  brother  POW

Mott R S Pte discharged cousin

Deane-R-G-2nd-Air-Mechanic-2020  cousin


Date of Death:  24/12/1917

CWGC:  "Son of George Rokes Mott and Elizabeth Mott, of 73, Salisbury St., Moonee Ponds,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Born at Skene's Creek, Apollo Bay, Victoria".



The officers and teachers of the East Essendon Methodist Sunday School held an impromptu meeting at the close off the, school, last Sunday afternoon to bid farewell to Sgt. Arthur E. P. Mott, of No. 1 Squadron, 1st Aust. Flying Corps, who is shortly leaving for the front. The assistant superintendent, Mr. Allingham, expressed regret at the unavoidable absence of the superintendent, Mr. Fenton, M.H.R., who, in common with all the officers and teachers, held Sgt. Mott in very high esteem.  Messrs.   Collings, Wheeler and Ploog also spoke in appreciative terms of the young soldier, and the wish was expressed by all that he would have a safe journey and an early return. It was stated that his association with the school has extended over several years, and from the position of a scholar he has risen to fill the offices of librarian and secretary. Sgt. Mott briefly, but feelingly, thanked the friends for the kindly sentiments expressed, and for a souvenir in the shape of a money belt and armlet, which had been handed to him prior to the meeting. The proceedings terminated with the hymn "God be with You till We Meet Again."


KILLED. (1916, March 16). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 5 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved January 27, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74592270





The following account of the doings of the A.F.C. in Ceylon was written by Sergeant. A. E. P. Mott of Moonee Ponds:




On awaking at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, we found ourselves in sight of land, and could just discern the main features of Colombo. We steamed on past the breakwater into the inner harbour, to the accompaniment of cheering from the other ships, and dropped anchor at about 6.45 a.m. just astern of another large boat. Not far from where we anchored were a number of weird looking Indian dhows, and near them a conglomeration of smaller native craft. The Colonel having made previous arrangements by wireless with reference to a trip to Kandy, the A.F.C. were all in uniform before breakfast, ready for almost immediate disembarkation.   After breakfast, all paraded on the promenade deck, and awaited the arrival of the tug and lighters which the Colonel and Ship's Adjutant had gone ashore to procure. These, however, were not forthcoming, and after waiting for nearly two hours we were dismissed to get an early lunch. The arrival of the lighters nipped our luncheon in the bud, as all hands had to rush up to the promenade deck and fall in. We then boarded the lighters and were towed to the wharf (which consists of two landing stages one above the other), arriving there about 12.15 p.m. There were no dull moments, as our time previous to landing was occupied in watching events in the harbour. As soon as we anchored, the native boats besieged us, and coal and water barges came alongside. The water boats consist of hulks filled with ordinary square tanks, containing water, which is pumped up into the tanks on the ship. The coal lighters are loaded with coarse sacks filled with coal, and this is heaved into the ship's bunkers by natives working in relays on the step by step principle. While this was going on the natives in the smaller boats were bartering goods and climbing up the ship's side, others were diving for money thrown into the water, and others still were singing "God Save the King" and "Tipperary" for financial benefit. Some were diving from the boat deck about 50ft. up to catch a shilling or two-shilling piece before it sank, while some were diving right under the ship and coming up on the other side.


The harbour is a marvellous feat of engineering, the break-waters being built of huge blocks of concrete, and having narrow gauge railways running out on them, and lighthouses on the ends facing the channel. Close inshore are hundreds, of lighters, which form practically the only method of loading and unloading, there being no pier. The space occupied by goods sheds is enormous, taking up nearly all the harbour front.   After landing, we received instructions about the railway station and were dismissed, being permitted to travel to the station by tram, ricksha, carriage or motor. Two other sergeants, a corporal and myself snapped up a Ford motor with a native driver, and gave him instructions in about six languages (mainly Australian) to drive to the station, and moreover to go like the deuce, giving him a shilling each for the trip. He evidently understood, for he went like the dickens, taking corners at top speed and going through between traffic at full speed, when another coat of paint would have meant disaster. On the way, we passed a procession of the boys in trams, richshas, carriages, etc., all making their way to the station, and all trying to get more pace out of their various "steeds," but we were able to show them a clean pair of heels, and arrived at the station about five minutes before anyone else, thereby gaining the pleasure of watching the lads coming in and arguing with the drivers and richsha "boys" about the price of their various vehicles. The fare in rickshas should have been about six pence, and five shillings, four shillings, down to two-and-six was demanded by the natives. A few of the lads actually paid the exorbitant rates, and others thought they were doing well by paying one shilling and walking away, with the nigger spluttering after them; but when they discovered the right amount of the fare there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth.


These matters kept our minds occupied until the remainder of the squadron came along, when we were all marched down on to the platform, and entrained in a special train for Kandy, the cost of this train being about £30. The second-class return fare to Kandy is 8s, and this amount was collected from each man, making a total of about £48, thus leaving about £18 to pay for meals, etc., at Queen's Hotel, Kandy, where we stayed. We started off about 1.30, and almost immediate ly became impressed with the indescribable beauty and luxuriance of the surroundings. Within a few minutes we had left the town behind us, and were passing through the, outlying village, where the native houses are dotted here and there among dense palm groves, 60ft high.


We continued our journey through an ever changing panorama of beautiful green palms, banana plantations, rice fields, and jungle for some 40 or 50 miles, before coming to the mountain districts, where the scenery became even more wonderful. While  passing through the lower country, great interest was taken in the novel methods adopted by the natives to irrigate their rice fields. These fields are divided into small sections by ridges of earth a foot or eighteen inches high, each section being perfectly flat and level. Water is allowed to run on to these sections, and when one is covered to a certain depth, the water escapes through an opening in the earth wall on to the next one and so on. In the case of a section being too high for the water to reach it, a novel system of pumping is installed. Suspended from a bamboo tripod is a scoop formed of a palm leaf, which is naturally that shape. This is swung backwards and forwards by a native so as to scoop up the water collected in a hole dug for the purpose, situated close to the dividing wall of earth. At the end of each swing the water is projected forward from the scoop over the wall, thus gradually covering the higher plot of ground. These sections. or plots usually have an area of less than a quarter of an acre and are generally rectangular in shape.


As we approached the higher levels two main features became apparent, viz, the abruptness of the hills and, mountains, and the huge masses of rock - both characteristic of the volcanic nature of the country. The wild grandeur of the scenery now became almost awe-inspiring, and the train began to twist and turn like a big snake, giving the two engines (one in front and one behind), all they could do to move it up the steep gradients. At one place, known as Sensation Point, the train moves round a sharp turn with nothing between it, and a fall of about 1000 feet should anything happen, while 2500 feet above it towers Allagalla Mountain, which has for its summit a solid mass of bluestone nearly 300 feet high. From this position a splendid view is obtained of the wide valley with its terraced rice fields, some of which have taken nearly 2000 years to develop. These terraces follow the contour of the mountain, and are constructed on the same principle of irrigation as those on the lower levels, every scrap of ground being utilised. In the mountain terraces the water is continually running. Here we also saw the tea plantations for which Ceylon is famous. Many of these plantations are set among palms and other shrubs on the side of the mountain, others are carefully laid out in rows on prepared ground on or near the hilltops. The railway through this district is worthy of admiration as a work of patience and perseverance, combined with engineering skill. In a stretch of about 20 miles it passes through thirteen tunnels, all of which are cut through practically solid rock, and at one place the train passes along a ledge hewn out of the side of an enormous overhanging rock which rears aloft over 100 ft. During the trip frequent views of the splendid road to Kandy were obtained.   The road turns and twists about much more than the railway line, and hairpin bends are common; nevertheless, it is well patronised by the tourists in motors, as it passes through some of the finest scenery in the world. After passing the overhanging rock, attention is arrested by another huge rectangular mass of solid bluestone set on the summit of a mountain, and known as the Bible Rock. This rock from, the distance, appeared to he about 200ft. in height, with vertical sides and a flat top. Near it was an other mountain with a very sharp peak, also, of rock.


Shortly after passing these we saw a native taking an elephant for a drink, which it apparently did not want, for on the approach of the train it turned and bolted, taking its well-meaning attendant with it, and causing much amusement among the occupants of the train. We next came to a junction station, and were particularly interested in the sign which read "To Kandy" and "Up Country," indicating the respective sides of the platform. Presumably the "Up Country" line ran into the jungle and stopped "nowhere." We afterwards learned that this line ran through country where wild elephants and tigers could still be found. On the platform were two natives dressed in somewhat gaudy yellow robes, and carrying curved palm leaves which opened and closed like an umbrella. These men, whom we found on enquiring to be Buddhist priests, were besieged by some of the boys, who grabbed the umbrellas and started marching up and down the platform with them, greatly amusing the priests, though the eyes of some of the natives close by nearly jumped out of their heads at the apparent sacrilege. A further run of ten minutes brought is to the outskirts of Kandy, where a number of native cricket matches were in progress. We arrived at Kandy at about 5.30 p.m., and began to wonder where the town was, as the station was surrounded by palms and no buildings of any importance were visible.


After a short march, however, we came to the town itself, and were more favourably impressed, especially when we saw the large hotel at which we were to stay during our visit. Arrangements had been made for us to sleep on the floor of the ball-room, but no objection was raised against booking rooms, so two other sergeants and I engaged a large room, beautifully fitted up with electric light and fan, for the moderate sum of two shillings each. As it was too early for dinner we decided to have a look at the town, and were immediately assailed by ricksha boys, drivers, etc., all expounding on the merits of the respective vehicles. We considered shanks' pony far safer, how ever, and had proceeded some distance down the street when a series of wild yells made us turn round, to see some of the lads engaged in a ricksha race, with half the juvenile population tearing after them. Returning with a good appetite after an hour's walk, we found dinner in progress and joined in. It was a scene of general merriment, for the native servants executed all orders at a run, and even then were unable to cope with the demand. The principle employed by nearly everyone to ensure a good square meal was to eat a course and push the empty plate away, heartily abusing the waiters for not bringing anything to eat, and thus obtaining a second, third and even fourth return of the same dish. Everything on the menu was sampled, and then followed five or six kinds of fruit, including bananas, oranges, pineapples, paw-paws, etc. By this time everybody's appetite had more or less expired, and a unanimous move was made towards the animated scenes of the town.


The news of our arrival had spread quickly, and crowds of natives were waiting to see us, following us wherever we went, while all the rickshas in the district seemed to have collected in front of the ho tel. We wandered round the town for a couple of hours before turning in, and during that time discovered the local picture theatre, and were in formed by the manager that he would be greatly honoured by our presence; but as the show did inot commence un til 9.15 and finished at 10.30 p.m., we decided to make better use of our limited time. Everyone was astir early next morning, taking advantage of the cool air for more extended tours. A walk round the lake and a visit to the ancient temple of the Tooth of Buddha occupied an hour or more, and brought us back in nice time for breakfast. During this walk I noticed a water-snake, about two feet long, and gave it rather a rough handling with a whip, discovering afterwards that it was sacred. The lake abounds with fish and turtles (possibly these are sacred also) and has common ordinary catfern growing on its banks. Just before reaching the hotel we noticed some natives busy washing clothes in a rather unique manner. The method adopted is to wet the garment and then beat it with a flail-like motion on a flat rock. How long the clothes are to last appears to be a matter of secondary consideration. As regards personal cleanliness, the natives bathe in any water which happens to be handy, but they all seem to bathe frequently. After breakfast I visited the post office and police station, and was shown the photographs and classification of some of the criminals, the majority of whom, judging by appearances, would deserve all the punishment given them. The native police are well trained, neat and obliging, and the majority speak Eng to bathe frequently.


After breakfast the station had short rifles with sword bayonets about 20in. long, furnished with hilt and hand-grip for use as swords when out on patrol. The next stop was at the offices of the Planters' Association of Ceylon, a splendid building erected in memory of Queen Victoria. Here I was met by several others, and asked to join them in a motor trip. The car was a hupmobile, and it certainly put up a remarkable performance in the hands of its native driver, who eclipsed all that any of us had ever seen in the way he handled the wheel. There were seven of us in the car, and we took hairpin bends on very steep gradients on top gear. One or two of the lads had expressed a desire to drive; but when the feats that were necessary to save us from destruction became apparent, desisted. We travelled somewhere about 30 miles through the wildest of mountain country surrounding Kandy, catching occasional glimpses of the town below us, and passing through luxurious plantations of every description. Be fore returning to the town, we bought three bunches of bananas for future consumption. One of these bunches contained 150 bananas, and the three were purchased for 4s 6d. One of the roads we passed had only just been constructed and in places passed along the top of precipices, being fenced off with iron railings to prevent accidents. While on this tour we passed the native potteries, and visited the reservoir, which is supplied by a mountain stream, and has a depth of nearly 50ft. at the weir, which is of concrete. We unanimously decided that our native driver could knock six Europeans into a top hat, and on completion of the trip gave him a little extra as an appreciation of his work at the wheel.


At the hotel and also at the Temple were some intricate and beautiful exhibitions of native art in the form of ivory carvings, some of which were valued at over £500. The majority of the natives we met appeared to be intelligent, of good character, and clean in habits, though small in stature, the average height being from 5ft 4in to 5ft 6in. After a light luncheon, we fell in in front of the hotel, and marched to the railway station, arriving there at 12.45 p.m. and at 1 p.m. we. steamed out of Kandy on our 74 mile journey to Colombo, and from all accounts left a very favourable impression behind us. We had by this time be come acquainted with the value of the various fruits, etc., which the natives were selling along the line, and knew how to deal with the sensational prices asked, so that some very keen bargains were struck. At one place a splendid exhibition was given by a native acrobat, who appeared to be able to do almost anything with his body. As we neared Colombo a number of the lads devoted themselves to throwing bananas at the astonished natives, and someone succeeded in topping off a Buddhist priest in this manner.


Rounding a bend in the line, we came in sight of the two steel masts of the wireless station at Colombo, and shortly afterwards drew into the Barrack station. Now we had nearly an hour at our disposal before embarking, so a party of five N.C.O.'s, including yours truly, set off in search of a motor, and succeeded in securing a big Minerva for three quarters of an hour at the cost of 15s. This time our entreaties for more speed had little effect, no matter what ruse we resorted to, as the car had already been instrumental in killing three niggers, and the driver was loth to let her out. We first passed the barracks, a large building, forming three sides of a square and near which is situated the military headquarters, also a large building. Passing these, we entered one of the many drives through the Cinnamon Gardens, and shortly after wards saw the Colombo Tennis Club's courts. There are over 50 courts, and all are finished with a fine gravel, giving a splendid surface. Then came the cemetery, with its fine monuments, after which we found our selves in the European and Cingalese portion of the town, where some of the most beautiful buildings in Ceylon are situated. The hospital was the next item on the programme, and from there we proceeded past the enormous Galleface Hotel to the Esplanade, which faces the outer harbour. A short run brought us back to the post office, a fine building near which is a clock tower set in the centre of a square and surrounded by a splendid group of warehouses. Throughout the trip we noticed the system used by the police in directing the traffic. Our driver, when approaching a policeman, would extend his hand in the direction he wished to take, and if the road was clear the policeman would also extend his hand in the   same direction, as a clearance signal for us and a warning to other traffic.


We arrived at the wharf just in time to fall in, and within half an hour were on our way back to the ship. The total expense incurred by me during the trip did not exceed 25s., though some of the lads spent considerably more. Between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. that night, we weighed anchor, and the next day an order was issued congratulating the troops on their exemplary conduct during the ship's stay in Colombo.


OUR SOLDIERS. (1916, June 22). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved January 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74593297


Mrs. E. Mott, of "Wahroonga," Moonee Ponds, has received word by cable that her youngest son, Arthur E. P. Mott, aged 20 years, has received his commission in the 1st Aust. Flying Corps. He is the fourth son of Mrs. Mott, who has taken up arms for his country. The eldest son John, who received his commission early in the year, is now in France. The second, Albert, having been through the Gallipoli campaign, is now C.Q.M.Sgt, also in France. The third, Herbert, Staff Sgt.-Major, has volunteered several times for service abroad but is retained for home service, and is now at Seymour.


No Title. (1916, August 31). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 5 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved February 5, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74593986


Lieutenant A. Mott, of "Wahroonga." Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds, states that his brother,   Captain J. E. Mott, who was previously reported wounded and missing since April 11, is now reported as a prisoner of war. Another brother, Sergeant-Major H W Mott, also enlisted some time ago.


ROLL OF HONOR. (1917, June 14). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning. Retrieved May 15, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74602800



The Argus Thursday 3 January 1918


Able Australian's Death.

Lieut A E P Mott Drowned

Lieutenant A E P Mott of Melbourne, a member of the Royal Flying Corps, has been drowned at Montrose Bay, in Scotland. He was flying when his machine fell into the water and both he and the machine sank. He was 22 years of age.
Lieutenant Mott received his first military training as a cadet under the Commonwealth compulsory training scheme. He rose from the ranks in the 58th Senior Cadet Battalion to the rank of colour sergeant, and when he became 18 years of age was transferred to the 34th Battalion of Engineers  (Electric Company).  In that corps, after much hard work, he reached the rank of corporal and at the beginning of the war he was on duty at the Port Phillip  Heads with his corps for four months. He had been apprenticed to a maker of electrical instruments in Melbourne, and had erected a wireless plant at his mother's home at Moonee Ponds.  In obedience to the official order this plant was dismantled at the outbreak of the war, but it did not lie idle. The enthusiastic lad took it to the Heads with him and during his four months' stay there used it on the pilot boat. He returned home and enlisted as a private in the Australian Flying Corps, receiving many months of training at the Central Flying School, Point Cook under Major E Harrison.

Leaving for Egypt as sergeant in charge of a wireless section of the flying corps early in 1916 he was appointed to commissioned rank in May 1916, as a second lieutenant in charge of wireless equipment. His work was so appreciated by his superior officers that he was sent to many parts of Egypt to erect wireless stations. Trying experiences fell to his lot there, but he did good work.

ln addition to his strictly official duties he conducted experiments and made improvements in the wireless instruments in use in Egypt. He also improved the wireless apparatus carried on aeroplanes by which the airmen were able to transmit messages from the aeroplanes over a radius of 20 miles. He was  recommended for further training in England, and was so highly commended that he was given a pass to visit all the wireless instrument factories and depots in England for the purpose of study.

He had been, engaged in this way for some months and was on his way back to Egypt in the Transylvania when she was sunk by a submarine. In this ship he lost all his instruments and the notes taken during his months of study in England. Three times before had he tried to leave England for Egypt but each time some mishap prevented him from sailing.

After the sinking of the Transylvania he returned to England. His reputation had spread, and Lieut-General Sir Henry Chauvel, in command of the Australian troops operating in Palestine; Colonel E H Reynolds, director of aviation in the AIF; the general in charge of the Middle East command in England, and the  Australian Flying Squadron in Egypt were all applying for his services. Promotion was not rapid enough for him in the wireless section of the flying corps, and he was training for his pilot's certificate when he met with his death.

Three brothers of the late airman are on active service. One, Captain J F Mott recently escaped from a prison camp in Germany, after a daring and dangerous journey of 100 miles. His other two brothers are Quartermaster-Sergeant A A B Mott of the 58th Battalion, and Private G Mott of the flying corps. His mother is Mrs E Mott, of 73 Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds. The deceased soldier was the youngest son of the family.



ON ACTIVE SERVICE. MOTT.-Accidentally drowned at sea from aeroplane, 24/12/1917, Lieut. A. E. P. Mott, Aus. Flying Corps, attached R.F.C.; youngest son of Mrs. E. Mott, 73 Salisbury st., Moonee Ponds, Melbourne: aged 22 years 2 months.


Family Notices. (1918, January 4). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74604716


News has been received that Lieut. A. E P. Mott, youngest son of Mrs. E. Mott, of "Wahroonga," Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds, was lost in a sea fog from an aeroplane off Scotland on the 24th December, 1917, and drowned. He was serving as a wireless sergeant on the steamer Transylvania at the time it was torpedoed in the Mediterranean, and, while in the water he saved the lives of two men and being himself rescued after seven hours' immersion.


He went to England to qualify as a pilot, being recognised by Col E. H. Reynolds, Director of Aviation in the A.I.F., as a lad having the makings of an exceptional and daring airman. He was greatly esteemed by his fellow officers. He has three other brothers at the front, one of whom, Capt. J. E. Mott effected a recent sensational escape from Germany, while another brother,   Lieut. H. W. Mott (late Sgt.-Major of 58A Senior Cadets) is in camp.


Advertising. (1918, January 4). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved May 31, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74604693




By the death of lieutenant Arthur  E. P. Mott of the Australian Flying Corps, who was lost in a sea fog off the coast of Scotland, and drowned on December 21 at the age of 22 years, the Empire has been deprived of a brave soldier, who appeared destined for unusual distinction as an airman.  The spirit of his whole life, dauntless to the end, was that of Browning's great poem, "Prospice.' He, too, might well have voiced the scorn of fate expressed in the opening lines, so strangely fitting the manner of his ending.


"Fear death? To feel the fog in my throat.

The mist in my face,  

"When the snows begin, and the blasts,

denote I am nearing the place  

Where he stands, the Arch-Fear in a visible form:      

Yet the strong man must go . . ."


As a strong man, he went; and died daring "the power of the night, the press of the storm, the post of the foe." His noble deeds are worthy of that noble requiem. He was one of four brothers who have done gallant service. One, Captain J. E. Mott, escaped from Germany recently by a mixture of boldness and ingenuity, details of which have already been published. The others are  Quartermaster-sergeant A. A. B. Mott, of the 53th Battalion, and Private G. Mott, of the Flying Corps. Their mother is Mrs E. Mott. of 73 Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds. Lieutenant Mott was her youngest son. Lieutenant Mott went to England to qualify as a pilot, and there Colonel E. H. Reynolds, Director of Aviation in the Australian Imperial Force, eulogised him as a fine man and a probable super-airman. It was on his way to England that he met with a terrible adventure, being on board the s.s. Transylvania when it was torpedoed in the  Mediterranean. The torpedo struck the vessel in the bunkers near the  engine-room. There was a terrific explosion, and many men must have been killed by it. The troops on board behaved admirably. There was no panic. The crew had a clear way to deck from below, and as they came up they saw the soldiers standing in serried line five deep.



Among those who helped to maintain order was Lieut. Mott, who, in a letter dated France, May 28, wrote to his mother, Mrs E. Mott, of 73 Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds, as follows:— "After the explosion there was momentary  semblance of chaos, while everyone grabbed life belts and the nurses put away their sewing. Then everything quieted down, the nurses were bundled into  lifeboats and lowered away. They were clear astern inside five minutes.  


"One of the nurses called out, Give us a song, boys!" To this the soldiers at once  responded, singing first, 'Tipperary,' and then with a touch of grim humor, 'Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty.' It was obvious at once that   the ship was  doomed. Several destroyers raced along to the rescue. "Some of the boats were successfully lowered, but others met with disaster. To look back in our wake, and see all   the heads bobbing and arms waving was enough to put fear into almost anyone. But, by this time, the ship had just about stopped, as the first torpedo had 'done in' the dynamos and destroyed a lot of watertight doors. The nurses were about a mile behind, and drifting fairly rapidly under the influence of a strong off-shore wind and   surface current.



"In the meantime a second torpedo had passed under our stern, plainly seen by officers and men stationed there, missing us by 'two gasps and a  flutter'. When struck, we were on the port tack, and under the combined influence of explosion and rudder we swung round and headed straight for the shore, which was just over four miles away. About 15 minutes after the first torpedo struck us, and a few minutes after the second torpedo was fired a destroyer ran in on the port side and started taking men off the forward well-deck, gradually drifting astern as she did so. Just as she was lying amidships the third torpedo was seen about 300 yards off. It missed the destroyer by about 10 feet, and incidentally blew up a boatload of men who had just been lowered. Legs, arms, and bodies, together with tons of wreckage, were thrown high into the air.  


"When this explosion occurred I was down below rescuing my notes and documents. I thought my last hour had come. The torpedo struck about 50 feet from where I was, and the whole cabin seemed to stand on end. The contents of shelves came hurtling   down, the bunks upset and the glasses smashed. I  bolted on deck, but after wards went down again and packed my things. It was  while the second destroyer was alongside that some of the worst scenes  happened, for she caught two boats with men in them and squashed them  against the ship's side. To see the wild looks of speechless petrified horror on those men's faces as they realised their inevitable fate was ghastly. Other  terrible things of the same kind happened.



"The launching of boats still went on, though many of the davits would not swing, owing to the effects of the explosion, and were useless. In the end we just pushed boats and rafts over the side into the water, which was by that time almost flush with the well decks. The boilers burst then, but did not do much damage. About this time the ship began to list badly, and we could see that she was settling down by the head. In order to be ready - though I was in no hurry to take to the water — I put my attache case and a 'British warm' into an  unlaunched collapsible boat, and then simply stood by and waited.




"A few seconds later the stern began to list. I saw she was under water aft the bridge and sinking like fun, while the stern was rising. I yelled to the fellows near me to get over the side. I flew over the side, and struck out for hope and glory. After about a dozen strokes, I turned round and saw the stern fifty feet in the air, and officers and men rolling over one another down the steep decks. What startled me more was that she was swinging round as she sank, and  coming right over on top of me faster than I could swim. nearly caught by screws.


"I altered my course and swam astern, with the result that I just got clear as she dived with a roar over my head. The screws missed me by a few feet. Then the colossal struggle commenced, and only strong swimming and a  life-belt saved me from being sucked down. When she disappeared the sea  seemed to rise in a mound of foaming water and gradually spread out again.  Up came all sorts of things, including human beings, boats and wreckage. I joined two other officers on a piece of wreckage in the form of a cross. All round us were other groups on rafts and in boats and on fragments of timber. We gradually drifted apart and scattered, over the face of the ocean. At times we were over our heads in water, and every few minutes one of us would get a crack from loose oars and pieces of wood thrown along by the waves.



"After about an hour and a half a destroyer came along picking up people 

here and there, and drifted down on us, A rope was thrown, and the eldest officer of the trio was hauled along to a ladder, and thence on board. Then the destroyer drifted away, and we were left to our fate. It seemed years before a little rowing boat appeared, and picked up a few people. It picked up the party next to us, but they could not take any more in. I was getting decidedly fed up; my companion was threatening to give in. I kept a loose oar ready for pushing away dead bodies, several of which drifted on to us, any old company being preferable to dead men.


"Two soldiers came up on wreckage, and in the sea that was running I think I can justly claim to have saved both their lives, owing to my work in keeping a number of bits of wreckage together. At last we were hauled on board a tug-boat in response to some glorified wind-mill actions on my part. I was thankful to feel something hard under my feet. A ship's boy took me down to the-crew's quarters, and led me to a ship's bunk about 4ft. long, where I soon got warm. It was a disastrous affair. There were lost 29 officers, 373 of other ranks, the captain, one officer, and nine seamen. All the 66 nurses were saved, and are now in England."



In a subsequent letter Lieut. Mott says that after he knew the ship would sink he was sorely tempted several times to "make a bolt" for one of the boats, or, particularly, for one of the destroyers, when he saw other officers getting away in complete uniform with odds and ends of little personal comforts. "Then," he adds, "I decided that there were tons of other fellows who needed a place more than I did. The reason why I was not washed ashore on some wreckage, as you ask, was be cause there was a strong off-shore, wind and current. When struck we were about four miles off-shore. The ship sank some 10 miles out, and I was  picked up about 25 or 30 miles out. 


"If there had been a ghost of a chance for the shore I would have done the four miles, but there was  none. Three  men in good physical condition tried and gave it up...after half an hour. They were picked up almost immediately. One died and the other two were in hospital for a week. I made sure I was Jonah when all those boats missed me. The officer to whom I gave the rope fell on my neck after wards and told me he had been suffering pangs of conscience, thinking we were gone.


"The Other officer that was with me went a bit airy 'up top' towards the last, and wanted to swim to a destroyer or something. He let go and sank like a stone. He came up clutching wildly and 'cured.' One soldier started raving 'Put me to bed, mother! Come and put me to bed.' I wished that the "drowning, men would not make such ghastly, gurgling, groaning cries. I can still hear some poor beggars beyond hope. "I think the conduct of the nurses was wonderful —many of them had very trying  experiences, though, fortunately, they were well clear before the blood and thunder started. I did not hear of any sharks, and only thought of them twice, dismissing the subject from my mind immediately. So far as I know, the submarine was not even sighted."

AIRMAN LOST IN FOG. (1918, January 5). Weekly Times (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 34. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article122128778












                     Courier 26 Dec 1917




Courier 22 Jan 1918



Courier 22 Jan 1918                                                           Courier 23 Jan 1918


Clippings courtesy of Ian Edwards.





The body of Arthur Ernest Percival Moft (22), R.F.C., who was drowned in Most rose Bay while flying on 24th December last, was recovered on the sands near the River South Esk on Monday morning. He belonged to Melbourne, Australia. The remains of Lieutenant Mott were interred in Sleepy Hillock Cemetery, Montrose, with military honours, on Tuesday.   The above paragraph is from the "People's Journal",Scotland, of 26th   January 1918, and relates to the late Lieutenant A. E. P. Mott, of Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds.


OUR SOLDIERS. (1918, April 11). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved June 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74605601


These two photographs are of an airman’s funeral procession heading along the Brechin Road to Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose during WW1.  The Royal Garrison Artillery are providing the brass band as they did for Lt Mott’s funeral.  It looks like it was taken in UK winter time, so it could even be his funeral, albeit we’ll probably never know.  They are walking past the main cemetery entrance as the WW1 airmen are buried some 100m further up the road on the left with access being via a side gate off the road.  Photos courtesy of Ian Edwards, 2015.



Lieutenant A E P Mott's memorial at MONTROSE (SLEEPYHILLOCK) CEMETERY

Courtesy of Ian Edwards, 2015.


Royal Flying Corps Graves at Sleepyhillock. Mott's memorial stone is fourth from the left.  Photo courtesy of Ian Edwards, 2015.


Mentioned in Correspondence:

Gaudie-C-H-M-Gunner-22300  visited Mott's grave in Montrose, Scotland.


War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall L-R

East Essendon Methodist Church

Essendon State School

Moonee Ponds Methodist Church *

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour With the Colours


Died on Active Service


MOTT - Accidentally drowned at sea from aero-   
plane, 24/12/1917 Lieut A E P Mott, Aus.   
Flying Corps, attached R F C , youngest son of
Mrs E Mott, 73 Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds, 
Melbourne, aged 22 years 2 months.

Family Notices. (1918, January 2). The Argus), p. 1.



MOTT.-Drowned In his aeroplane at sea in a fog
off Scotland on Christmas Eve, 1917, after active  
service since the declaration of war, Lieut. Arthur
E. P. Mott, Australian Flying Corps, fifth son (all
on service ) of Mrs E. Mott, 73 Salisbury street,
Moonee Ponds; beloved younger brother of Sister
Lillie, Bendigo Rescue Home; aged 22 years.         
After a blameless life he died on duty.
(English papers please copy.)
Family Notices. (1918, January 5). The Argus , p. 1.


In Memoriam


MOTT- In memory of our dear brother Lieutenant
Arthur E P Mott A F C accidentally drowned in
aeroplane accident at Montrose Scotland, on
December 24 1917. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God -(Violet )


MOTT -Lieut A E P , 1st Australian Flying 
Squadron killed in his aeroplane, December 24, 1917.
A tribute of love to our darling
-(Inserted by his sister Ethel, "Wahroonga "
Salisbury street, Moonee Ponds )
Family Notices. (1918, December 24). The Argus p. 1.


MOTT (Lieut Arthur E P Mott, AFC) In proud and fond
remembrance of our dearly loved youngest brother, Arthur,
who was killed in his aeroplane on Christmas Eve, 1917.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God".
(Inserted by Lillie and Emily).

Family Notices. (1919, December 24). The Argus, p. 1.



MOTT -Lieutenant Arthur E P Mott, AFC -
With proud and tender thought of our dear youngest brother,
drowned in his aeroplane in the North Sea on Christmas Eve, 1917 
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
see God "   
(Inserted by Lillie and Emily )

Family Notices. (1920, December 24). The Argus, p. 1.



No further years checked.

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