This post presents the table of all those with an association with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in the first half of 1916. It builds on the work of 3 earlier posts, Post 21: Enlistments to the end of 1914: identifying the ‘locals’ , Post 55: Enlistments in the first half of 1915 and Post 61: Enlistments in the second half of 1915.
It is the fourth six-monthly profile of enlistments and the 183 men in this particular profile take the total number of those with a link to the Shire of Alberton who enlisted – from August 1914 to the end of June 1916 – to 619.
As for the previous cohorts, there are at least another 10 men whose names appeared on various honor rolls or memorials but who, as yet, cannot be identified. In such cases, the most common problem is that the only piece of evidence is the name, which, by itself – eg. Williams or Robertson – is not sufficient to identify the individual. Research on identifying such men continues.
There are also cases of men who can be identified but whose service history is hard to uncover or interpret. Samuel Charles Hammond Emmerson is an example. He was on the electoral roll as a farmer of Binginwarri and he also appeared in the 1915 Shire of Alberton Rate Book. He was issued with railway warrant number 324 on 22/3/16 for travel to Melbourne to complete his enlistment. The local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – reported his enlistment in a short piece on 7/4/16. It also reported, on 14/4/16, the farewell he was given at Fairview (Hiawatha). However it then reported (19/5/16) that he had been turned down in Melbourne at the final medical assessment. There is an MT 1486/1 (1916-1916) for SCH Emerson which records only that he was 40 yo and had been born at Foostcray. This certainly suggests that his enlistment did not go ahead. Moreover, he does not appear on the Embarkation Roll and nor is his name on the Nominal Roll. Overall, there is no evidence that he served in the AIF. Yet, strangely, his name – Emmerson S C H – appears on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor. It also appears that he was involved in the Soldier Settlement scheme in the local area at the end of the War. For present purposes, he has not been included in the table.
Another person not on the table is Frederick Toyne. He was given railway warrant 294 on 1/3/16. The local paper subsequently covered his farewell (26/4/16) from the district and noted that he had been awarded the Shire of Alberton Medallion. This farewell would have been after he had been in camp for some weeks. But for some reason he must have been discharged because his name is on neither the embarkation nor nominal roll. There is no record of any service. It appears he tried again, unsuccessfully, to enlist in 1917. Moreover, in October 1916 the local paper carried a story (6/10/16) about him being convicted of being on licensed premises ‘during prohibited hours’ so he was clearly back in the Shire and not serving in the AIF. Yet, for all the evidence that he did not serve in the AIF, his name is included on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor.
There is also the case of John James Lord. He was a carpenter in Yarram and he was given his railway warrant for travel on 25/2/16. His enlistment did not go ahead but there is no indication as to why. Most likely, he failed his medical in Melbourne, but there is no formal record that this is what happened. However, he was still very keen to serve because there was a report in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 9/5/17, more than one year later, that he was in fact leaving for overseas – to the UK – as a volunteer munition worker. While he is not included on the table below, on the grounds that he did not serve in the AIF, there was another munition worker in the UK who is included. Leslie Henry James Hole, who had been born in Bristol, England, enlisted in January 1916 and served overseas but he was discharged in July 1918, as medically unfit, in the UK. On discharge he took up work as a munition worker in the UK . After the War he returned to Australia and applied, unsuccessfully it appears, for the Soldier Settlement scheme.
These brief examples highlight some of the difficulties in creating the definitive table of all those with a link to the Shire of Alberton who enlisted and served in the AIF.
For most men, as the table shows, the links are obvious and plentiful, but for others the evidence is very limited – perhaps nothing more than a railway warrant issued by the Shire Secretary – and it can be hard to interpret. Yet it is this latter group – most commonly, itinerant rural workers – who are so important in establishing the complete picture of how the War played out in this particular rural community. Paradoxically, the group easiest to miss or ignore is the most important one when it comes to uncovering the social history of the complete community.
As before, 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)