Category Archives: Resources

198. List of those not able to be traced

I have spent the last few months trying to finalise the complete list of all those men who had a recognised association with the Shire of Alberton and who enlisted and served in W W 1. At this point the list numbers 826 men. Additionally, there is another list of 182 men who tried to enlist but were rejected, most commonly on health grounds.

The list included in this post is of the 100 men I have not been able to trace. The suggestion – or direct claim – is that they did enlist but I have not been able to tie them definitively to a specific AIF service record.

The names of the men on the list have appeared on honor rolls for state schools or against railway warrants issued to them as part of the enlistment process. In other instances there has been a reference in the local paper – Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative – which indicated that they had just enlisted – the name appeared in a report of a farewell or presentation for them –  or they were serving overseas. There are even cases where the name appears on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor. As well, some names appeared on the list of enlistees which was published by another local paper, the South Gippsland Chronicle. In all such instances, after examining a wide range of sources, I have not been able to identify the individual himself or, if I have been able to identify him, I have not been able to tie him to a specific AIF service record.

When you browse through the list you will see some of the challenges. In many cases, the name is too common, even when one or two initials are included. There is also the possibility that the spelling of the name or the initials provided – and often the record has been transcribed – are incorrect. However, even where the name of the person is known – and correct – you can face the situation where there is no corresponding service record or, more commonly, it is not possible to identify the relevant service record because there are too many possibilities. Without a great deal of supporting evidence  – where the individual was born, date of birth, parents’ names etc – the task of identifying someone is extremely difficult.

It is also possible that some of these men did not enlist. For example, they may have been given a railway warrant in Yarram to travel to Melbourne to complete the enlistment process, but they changed their mind or, alternatively, they failed the second medical in Melbourne. However, in relation to the latter possibility there should still have been a basic service record indicating that the enlistment had been terminated.  It is also possible that some of those on the list are already included, in the sense that they are on the list of the 826 who did enlist but with a slight variation in name.

It is worth noting the sheer size of the list. The whole exercise is a classic illustration of just how difficult it can be to uncover history at the level of the individual person. Yet, in this instance, the individual does count, precisely because, at the time, the community felt the need to identify and celebrate each and every one of them.

I am hoping that by making this list available there is some chance that current locals might be able to shed some light on the names.

If anyone can provide information in relation  to any of those on the list I would appreciate if they contacted me directly:

pcashen@bigpond.net.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

96. Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial

The Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial – also referred to as the Yarram War Memorial – was unveiled by Major-General C F Cox, assisted by G H Wise MP, on Wednesday 10 August 1921.

At the ceremony, reference was made to 700 men who had enlisted from the district and the 80 who had not returned.  However, nearly another 9 years passed before the names of the dead were added to the memorial (April 1930). This was 15 years from the time the first men had been killed at Gallipoli.

References

material relating to the design and construction of the Soldiers’ Memorial, and the subsequent inscription of the names, comes from The Shire of Alberton Archives

Box 377, Files 285-292 (viewed in Yarram, 30/3/2012)

 

24. Honor Roll of the Shire of Alberton

Framed Honor Roll: Alberton Shire

Framed Honor Roll: Alberton Shire

 

Detail: Alberton Shire Honor Roll

Detail: Alberton Shire Honor Roll

The Roll of Honor of Alberton Shire lists the names of 446 men who served in the AIF and identifies (*)  62 of these who were ‘killed’.

The names are printed on parchment which is framed under glass. The measurements are approx. 78 cm x 67.5 cm. The Honor Roll is held by the Yarram & District Historical Society.

The Honor Roll was prepared in early 1920. It is based on a hand-written list prepared by the Shire Secretary under the title: Shire of Alberton. Roll of Honor. Men who enlisted and went overseas, or who were in camp at the signing of the armistice preparing for active service. 1914-1918. This list is also held by the Yarram & District Historical Society.

The table below features the full names of the 446 men. In a few cases it has not yet been possible to identify a person listed on the Honor Roll. Work is continuing in this regard and when the identities are uncovered the table will be updated.

There are some striking shortcomings with the Honor Roll. To some extent the problems came in the process of transcription from the hand-written list. For example, family names and first names have been transcribed incorrectly: GEARING on the list became GEDRING in transcription and GOULDEN became GOULDER. Also, the apparently idiosyncratic order of the names came from the hand-written list. Apparently what was meant as a working document became the de facto formal list.

At the same time there are shortcomings that go beyond transcription. Probably the most serious is the identification of those ‘killed’ on active service. The table below shows the extent of the problem. First, 2 men (Loriman and Pulbrook) were identified as having been killed when in fact they were not. There is a slight possibility that in one case this could have been another transcription error, but whatever the cause, the seriousness of the error is obviously of a high order and it is hard to understand how it occurred or why it was not picked up.  Second, the Honor Roll did not identify another 27 men who died or were killed on active service. It seems remarkable that a public memorial such as this could be so wrong on this point, particularly given that 9 of the 27  names not acknowledged as ‘killed’ on the Honor Roll were in fact featured on the Shire War Memorial in the main street of Yarram, under the inscription: These men Gave Their Lives For Their Country.

The accuracy and completeness of memorials is a complex issue.  There were problems with transcription and there were also significant slippages of time, for example while the Honor Roll was created in early 1920, the names of the dead were not added to the War Memorial for nearly another 10 years. But beyond such technical considerations, there are deeper issues to do with perceptions of how the efforts and sacrifices of those who served in WW1 were to be honoured and, more importantly, who precisely was to be ‘named’. The ongoing research indicates that the 446 names on the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll is not an accurate count of the real number of men from the Shire who enlisted in the AIF and that the real number is more than 600. The research also suggests that most of those missing from the memorials came essentially from the rural working class.

20. Map of the Shire of Alberton, 1914

The map below shows the key towns, settlements and parishes of the Shire of Alberton in 1914 layered on a current map of Gippsland. I have been trying for some time to locate relevant maps of the area but they are very difficult to find and many of the Shire’s maps from the time are covered in  working notes and other markings. This arrangement should at least provide an initial idea of where the Shire of Alberton was located, particularly for those readers not familiar with either Gippsland or Victoria.

I have included a few locations (yellow) that were then (1914) in neighbouring shires, but earlier on they had been in the Shire of Alberton.

The attached notes should give an idea of the various phases of land selection beginning in the 1860s. It should also be apparent that the idea of ‘settlement’ (conquering the bush and making productive use of the land), particularly in the Hill Country, still held great significance in the period leading to WW1.

References

The information in the map comes principally from:

Adams, J 1990, From these Beginnings: History of the Shire of Alberton (Victoria), Alberton Shire Council, Yarram, Victoria