This post continues the analysis of the essential characteristics of all those associated with the Shire of Alberton who enlisted in WW1. The preceding posts are:
The numbers are too small for any meaningful comparison with earlier cohorts. However, all 4 key religious groups – Church of England, Presbyterian, Methodist and Roman Catholic – were at least represented and the predominance of Church of England and Presbyterian recruits, a feature throughout the War, continued to the very end. As noted, this last feature reflected the relative breakdown in the 1911 census.
In some instances the recruits were recorded as being allocated to specific groups of reinforcements but in most cases the only designation to appear on their enlistment forms was ‘Recruit Depot’ (Battalion). In only one case was there any further indication of the unit the recruit was to join. This involved Larry Johnson who, according to notes in his file, had been accepted to join the Light Horse and who had volunteered to serve in Egypt. He had not enlisted until 7/10/18 and was discharged with the majority on 24/12/18.
None of this cohort ever saw action and most never even embarked. Those who did embark were recalled.
Only one man (Roy Turnbull) served for more than 4 months and in most cases the length of service did not extend beyond one or two months. In some cases, service was measured in terms of weeks.
In terms of medical records, only 2 men were hospitalised. Ernest Griffiths spent time in the ship’s hospital – before the ship was recalled – with influenza. Alfred McKean had a more significant medical condition and was discharged on medical grounds after only a few months service.
It appears that as soon as the Armistice was declared, it was AIF policy to discharge those men who had only recently enlisted. None of this group were still in the AIF after January 1919 and in fact most had been discharged by Christmas 1918. The speed with which the AIF shifted its focus from securing enlistments and sending reinforcements overseas to, as it were, ‘clearing the decks’ and focusing on the repatriation of all those overseas was striking.