55. Enlistments in the first half of 1915

This post presents the table of all those with an association with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in the first half of 1915. It builds on the work of Post 21: Enlistments to the end of 1914: identifying the ‘locals’.

As detailed in Post 21, one of the overall intentions of the blog is to build the complete profile of all those from the Shire of Alberton who enlisted over WW1. This work is being done in intervals of 6 months.

Overall, the same set of records has been employed, with one omission – the list of men who were medically examined in Yarram was only compiled for the period to the end of 1914.

At the same time, from 1915 the Shire created a medallion which was intended to be presented, either personally or via a relative, to each man who enlisted. This additional record has been introduced into the table under the heading, ‘Med’. Unfortunately, unlike the issuing of railway warrants, there was no formal record kept by the Shire on the presentation of the medallions. Or, more accurately, no such record has been uncovered. Much was made of the medallion and, over time, the local paper published lists of men who had received it. Wherever a specific reference was made in the local paper to an individual receiving the medallion, this has been noted in the table. However, the fact that a person’s name did not appear on any list published in the local paper did not mean that he did not receive a medallion. The way the paper handled the reporting of the medallions was neither consistent nor comprehensive. The value for our purposes is that the report of the medallion in the paper can be a significant factor in making the link to the Shire.

In summary, the following records are the ones used in the table to establish the connection to the Shire:

The Shire of Alberton Honor Roll

The list of railway warrants issued by the Shire Secretary

The Shire of Alberton Medallion

The Shire of Alberton War Memorial

The honor rolls of state schools in the Shire of Alberton

Community honor rolls in the Shire of Alberton

Newspaper accounts (Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative)

 

 

Some observations on the table

For the detailed discussion on what constituted ‘local’ in this context see Post 21.

As before, the table has been designed to show at a glance the nature and extent of the historical evidence used to link the individual to the Shire of Alberton. Again, in some cases the evidence is overwhelming but in other cases it rests on just a single record.

It is also important to recognise the small number of cases where it has not been possible to link a name to an actual AIF service file. These individuals have not been included. The most common problem is where the surname is common and there is only a single initial or very common first name. The following cases are still being pursued:

Dove, Albert: newspaper accounts claim he enlisted in first half of 1915. He was from Gormandale. It appears that there was another brother – Dove, Wilfred – also from Gormandale, who enlisted in New Zealand.

Gilbert A W: newspaper accounts claim he enlisted in first half of 1915

O’Connor, John: railway warrant and newspaper reports indicate he enlisted in first half of 1915

O’Connor, E: newspaper account states that he enlisted at same time as 2 other locals, in May 1915.

There is the usual issue of inconsistencies between the various record sets. Names are, for example, featured on the Shire of Alberton War Memorial but they are not included on the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll. The most striking example of this involves the Nicholas brothers – George Matson Nicholas and Byron Fitzgerald Nicholas –  both of whom had been school teachers in the local district. On the face of it, it is remarkable that the brothers could be included on the Shire’s war memorial, and other local school memorials, but not on the Shire’s formal honor roll of all who served. The Nicholas brothers are important in their own right and will be discussed in depth in a future post.

Ethel Meta Horton, from Alberton,  who gave her calling as ‘trained nurse’, joined the Australian  Army Nursing Service in Melbourne in May 1915. She was the first woman from the local district to ‘enlist’.

The number of men linked to the Shire of Alberton who enlisted to the end of 1914 was 136. The corresponding figure for the period to the end of June 1915 was 102. To the end of June 1915, in excess of 200 men had left the Shire of Alberton to fight overseas. The adult population of the Shire at the time was approximately 2,500.

One striking statistic is that of the 240 men who had enlisted to the end of June 1915, 65 (26%) were to die on active service. It reflected the grim and obvious equation between early enlistment and death on active service.

Following the Gallipoli campaign – and most particularly, the high casualty levels associated with the fighting and the heroic press that the Anzacs received – there was a surge in volunteers. This higher rate of enlistments will be reflected in the next six-monthly report (enlistments from July to the end of December 1915).

2 thoughts on “55. Enlistments in the first half of 1915

  1. Linda

    I’m wondering if your E.O’Connor has a gender assigned in the newspaper article? Nurse Ethel Beta O’Connor enlisted in November 1917 in Adelaide, so is probably too late anyway. Her next of kin is given as her brother-in-law in Yarram/Trenton Valley. However, there are cases of nurses on troop ships being discharged, working with the wounded at home, and then re-enlisting when required – her November 1917 enlistment is in the Sea Transport Section. I have one minister of religion like that – just kept enlisting and being discharged as required on troop ships.
    Great post – it is going to keep me busy for a while. Thank You.

    Reply
    1. pcashen Post author

      E O’Connor was male. The newspaper article – 14/5/15 – described how 3 men had just enlisted, one of them being E O’Connor. One of the other 2 was Donald Dugald McAlpine jnr. He did enlist, on 5/5/15 in Melbourne. The other man was said to be (David) Angus O’Rourke. However, like O’Connor, I have not been able to find a service record for him. The newspaper article noted that the 3 men were ‘strapping young men who will make their presence felt once against the enemy’. The bit about Nurse Ethel Beta O’Connor is fascinating, particularly her link to the Shire of Alberton.

      Reply

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