This post presents the table of all those with an association with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in the second half of 1916. It builds on the work of 4 earlier posts that have analysed enlistments, in six-monthly intervals, from 1914:
Post 21: Enlistments to the end of 1914: identifying the ‘locals’ ,
Post 55: Enlistments in the first half of 1915 ,
Post 61: Enlistments in the second half of 1915
Post 81. Enlistments in the first half of 1916.
The enlistment in the second half of 1916 of 70 men with a link to the Shire of Alberton takes the overall number of such enlistments from August 1914 to 693. The following summary shows enlistments from 1914. It also shows how dramatically enlistments fell off in the second half of 1916:
To the end of 1914: 138 enlistments
First half of 1915: 102
Second half of 1915: 200
First half of 1916: 183
Second half of 1916: 70
Moreover, it was not just the case that enlistment numbers fell because in this cohort of 70 men, 16 of them – 23% of the total – had been rejected, medically, at least once before their enlistment was accepted. Additionally, 8 of the cohort were discharged from the AIF, on medical grounds, before they saw active service overseas. Overall, at least in the Shire of Alberton, by the end of 1916 there were far fewer men enlisting; and the general health and fitness of the recruits had also declined.
As an example of the efforts that some men went to enlist, this cohort featured 2 men – Charles Field and Clarence Stuart McLeod – both of whom had been rejected on the basis of ‘hernia’ who had then undertaken operations, and as the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative (20/10/16) put it, had made a ‘great sacrifice’ to become a ‘fit soldier’. The medical notes for McLeod refer to operation scars both groins.
As for the previous cohorts, there are several men whose names appeared on various honour rolls or memorials but who, as yet, have not been identified. In such cases, the most common problem is that the only piece of evidence is the name, which, by itself, is not sufficient to identify the individual. Research on identifying such men continues.
Once again, it is often hard to see the logic in the way men were included on various honor rolls and other commemorations. For example, the local Roman Catholic priest, Fr Patrick Sterling, enlisted in September 1916. At the time, his enlistment was written up in the local paper and there were several formal farewells. He was certainly well known in the local district and, after the War, he remained in the district for many years. At the time he enlisted, he was presented with the Shire of Alberton medallion. Yet, his name does not appear on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor.
Similarly, William Smith who died of disease – ‘malignant malaria’ – at Damascus on 17/10/18 did not have his name included on the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial; but it was included on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor.
Lastly, George Edgar Withinshaw who, before he enlisted was working as a butcher in Yarram, was killed in action on 19/9/17. He was a young English immigrant. On his enlistment form he gave Yarram as his permanent address in Australia. And when his family completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honour they gave Yarram as the location with which he was ‘chiefly connected’. Yet despite the obvious links to the district, his name is not included on either the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor or the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial.
The Table below shows that in most cases there were several items of evidence to link the individual to the local area. At the same time, in a few cases it was only the individual’s inclusion on the honour roll of a local school that linked him to the district. As well, there were several cases where the name of an individual appeared on a list prepared by local doctors of men whom they had medically failed. In many of these cases the men had subsequently passed the medical elsewhere and enlisted. They had moved to locations such as Warragul or Sale or Melbourne. However they have been included here because, in the interests of the full picture, it is important to identify and track the itinerant, rural working class who, overwhelmingly, made up the majority of all those who enlisted. The men had been working and living in the district at the time they failed their first medical.
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 (Alberton Shire Soldiers’ 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)
My grandfather George Finlay was one of the men who was medically rejected in Yarram. He maintained that as the youngest child of 13 & several brothers already enlisted, his mother Jessie (nee Kay) intervened. He circumvented this by riding over to Warrigul. I have anecdoted recorded if interested.