24. Honor Roll of the Shire of Alberton

Framed Honor Roll: Alberton Shire

Framed Honor Roll: Alberton Shire

 

Detail: Alberton Shire Honor Roll

Detail: Alberton Shire Honor Roll

The Roll of Honor of Alberton Shire lists the names of 446 men who served in the AIF and identifies (*)  62 of these who were ‘killed’.

The names are printed on parchment which is framed under glass. The measurements are approx. 78 cm x 67.5 cm. The Honor Roll is held by the Yarram & District Historical Society.

The Honor Roll was prepared in early 1920. It is based on a hand-written list prepared by the Shire Secretary under the title: Shire of Alberton. Roll of Honor. Men who enlisted and went overseas, or who were in camp at the signing of the armistice preparing for active service. 1914-1918. This list is also held by the Yarram & District Historical Society.

The table below features the full names of the 446 men. In a few cases it has not yet been possible to identify a person listed on the Honor Roll. Work is continuing in this regard and when the identities are uncovered the table will be updated.

There are some striking shortcomings with the Honor Roll. To some extent the problems came in the process of transcription from the hand-written list. For example, family names and first names have been transcribed incorrectly: GEARING on the list became GEDRING in transcription and GOULDEN became GOULDER. Also, the apparently idiosyncratic order of the names came from the hand-written list. Apparently what was meant as a working document became the de facto formal list.

At the same time there are shortcomings that go beyond transcription. Probably the most serious is the identification of those ‘killed’ on active service. The table below shows the extent of the problem. First, 2 men (Loriman and Pulbrook) were identified as having been killed when in fact they were not. There is a slight possibility that in one case this could have been another transcription error, but whatever the cause, the seriousness of the error is obviously of a high order and it is hard to understand how it occurred or why it was not picked up.  Second, the Honor Roll did not identify another 27 men who died or were killed on active service. It seems remarkable that a public memorial such as this could be so wrong on this point, particularly given that 9 of the 27  names not acknowledged as ‘killed’ on the Honor Roll were in fact featured on the Shire War Memorial in the main street of Yarram, under the inscription: These men Gave Their Lives For Their Country.

The accuracy and completeness of memorials is a complex issue.  There were problems with transcription and there were also significant slippages of time, for example while the Honor Roll was created in early 1920, the names of the dead were not added to the War Memorial for nearly another 10 years. But beyond such technical considerations, there are deeper issues to do with perceptions of how the efforts and sacrifices of those who served in WW1 were to be honoured and, more importantly, who precisely was to be ‘named’. The ongoing research indicates that the 446 names on the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll is not an accurate count of the real number of men from the Shire who enlisted in the AIF and that the real number is more than 600. The research also suggests that most of those missing from the memorials came essentially from the rural working class.

7 thoughts on “24. Honor Roll of the Shire of Alberton

  1. kayepea

    I’ve just become aware of another ‘medal’ that was awarded to one of the men who appears on the Shire of Alberton Honour Board, and who also appears on The Binginwarri State School Honour Board. The community of Binginwarri awarded some bronze-looking, star-shaped medals notated with, in this instance ”J. Lucas, Honor, Residents, Binginwarri” and I have been given a photo of it which I will email to you. I think you’ll be interested in it.

    Reply
  2. kayepea

    You have made my life so much easier whilst trying to find details of the men on my local Honour Board (sorry, I cannot stand the Americanisation of our words!) – I thought these rolls were so sacrosanct I never thought to make changes to the way names were/might have been spelled. Now I understand why so many of the men on my local board are missing from my research into our Aussie war service records, or are not recorded as killed when they so patently were. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. pcashen Post author

      The issue of spelling is interesting. Today we employ ‘Honour Roll’ or ‘Roll of Honour’ – eg, the War Memorial in Canberra – but 100 years ago it was most commonly the Webster (US) variant ‘Honor Roll’ or ‘Roll of Honor’. It was definitely the ‘Shire of Alberton Honor Roll’. Some refurbished rolls appear to have updated the spelling to reflect the current spelling!

      Reply
  3. Kath Fisher

    I agree that Honor Boards are far from accurate. Some names appear because individuals recommended them. I have noticed that many more soldiers were declared dead in action when they were later discovered to be POWs or laid up in a hospital somewhere. It took a while for information to be corrected with families let alone the Honor Board. Sometimes itinerant workers appear in more than one list or not in any. I guess that depends on the impacts they had at the time. It does take time to track them down but you are well under way.

    Reply
  4. Linda

    An excellent summary of the situation. Plus, because of computers and databases, we will locate many more enlistments of men who were born in the shire and moved elsewhere. These lists were compiled with a fountain pen and paper – maybe a recalcitrant typewriter or two. The lists produced under circumstances such as these are to be admired, no matter how the mistakes have crept in.

    Plus, in the spirit of equality – this is a list of 445 men and one woman – Nurse Ethel Horton, born 1881 in Port Albert. Ethel HIND died 1972 at Yarram aged 91. Prior to enlistment for overseas service on 24 May 1917, she had two years’ previous service with the AANS in Australia. She was one of the Salonica nurses who operated under deplorable conditions, and later wrote a long account of this time. (Gippsland Heritage Journal No.16, p.18). She is, so far, the only nurse I have identified from Alberton Shire. One gave a next-of-kin with a local address, but seems otherwise unconnected.

    Reply
    1. pcashen Post author

      Yes, definitely a valid and important correction. Nurse Ethel Horton was the one woman on the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll. Like the men, she was awarded the Shire Medallion (August 1917).

      Reply

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