126. Enlistments in the first half of 1917

This post presents the table of all those with an association with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in the first half of 1917. It builds on the work of 5 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.

Post 101. Enlistments in the second half of 1916.

The number of those who enlisted in the first half of 1917, with a clear link to the Shire of Alberton, was only 31. Included in the group was Nurse Elsie Engblom. This takes the total number of such enlistments from the start of the War to 724.

The following summary shows enlistments from 1914. It shows how dramatically enlistments fell off in the second half of 1916. It also shows that by early 1917, the actual rate of enlistments was effectively in some kind of ‘free fall’. The most obvious interpretation of the figures is that by early 1917 the pool of available recruits from the Shire of Alberton had been largely depleted. However, as future posts will continue to show, there was always the conviction that there were still some local families who were ‘holding back’.

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
First half of 1917: 31

As has already been pointed out, the ‘quality’ of recruits was also down. Post 123 showed that when men came forward at various recruiting demonstrations 2 groups dominated: those who could not meet the medical standard – and most of these had already been rejected at least once – and the ‘minors’ who needed their parents’ permission to enlist. Moreover, many of those who passed the medical with Dr Rutter in Yarram were subsequently rejected in Melbourne.

On the issue of parents’ permission for under-age recruits, it seems that some recruiting officers were very, if not over, zealous. For example, in this particular group Cecil Holman was an 18 yo from Yarram. His parents had previously refused to give their permission for him to enlist. He was one of those Lt Crowe – see Post 123 – recruited for the ‘Sportsmen’s Thousand’ in Yarram in early May 1917. His enlistment date was 5/5/17 but the parents’ permission was dated 26/5/17. Presumably, he and his recruiter put the parents in a position were they had little choice but to agree.

Another example, from this group, of the lengths recruiting officers were prepared to go to secure under-age recruits involved Harold Berreen Elliott. He was a 19 yo working for a coach builder/blacksmith in Yarram. His father’s whereabouts was said to be ‘unknown’ and it appears that the mother was in some kind of institutional care. There was an older sister living in Melbourne at Fitzroy. The papers for this young man’s enlistment state: Lieut. Crowe who enlisted this man originally took this [the Application to Enlist form, dated 5/5/17] personally and had it signed by the lad’s sister whose signature is hereon written.

Once again, it is often hard to see the logic in the way men were, and were not, included on various honour rolls and other commemorations.  For example, Frank Lionel Harrison enlisted as a 19 yo in May 1917. He was another young immigrant from the UK and was working as a farm labourer for H P Rendell at Devon North. He had his medical in Yarram and was issued with a railway warrant by the Shire Secretary for the travel to Melbourne. He died of wounds on 19/5/18. At least one in memoriam was published for him in the local paper  and when his father, back in England, supplied the information for the (National) Roll of Honour, he gave Devon North as the location with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’. His name is included on the Roll of Honor for the Shire of Alberton. It is also included on the honor roll for the local Methodist Circuit. However, his name is not included on the Soldiers’ Memorial in the main street of Yarram.

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. For example, the only link for the single female – Nurse Elsie Engblom – was her enrolment at 2 local state schools, Yarram and Alberton. However, she would certainly have been well known in the district. There was a brother – Charles William Engblom – who had also attended Yarram SS. He enlisted in September 1914, served at Gallipoli, was wounded and then discharged as medically unfit in early 1916. Even though the family was no longer living in the district, he was certainly regarded as a local and according to the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative (24/6/16) he attended at Yarram and handed out the Shire Medallion to a group of volunteers who were leaving for overseas service. The father had been a tailor in the town.

As before, the following records are the ones used in the table to establish the connection to the Shire:

The Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor

The list of railway warrants issued by the Shire Secretary

The Shire of Alberton Medallion

The Shire of Alberton (Yarram) 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)

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