ALSTON William

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ALSTON William

Enlistment Address

Narrabri West NSW

Service Number

1086

Unit

LIght Horse, Imperial Camel Corps

Comment

Gilgandra Coo-ee

Fate

RTA 29.4.1919

Information

William Alston was employed as a general labourer in Narrabri, NSW. He was 6 foot tall and weighed 168lbs (76kgs), he had a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His sister Jane Alston of Narrabri was his next of kin. He was born at Walgett on May 12, 1895 and was 23 years old when he enlisted in Gilgandra on October 9,1915 and joined the Cooee March to Sydney.

This was the first of the recruiting marches organised in New South Wales.

Gilgandra local plumber and rifle club member William T Hitchen (Captain Bill) proposed a route march from Gilgandra to Sydney. At every town there would be a demonstration to secure more recruits.

Thirty five men left Gilgandra on Sunday October 10, 1915 to march to Sydney through Dubbo, Molong Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow and over the mountains through Katoomba, Penrith, Parramatta, Burwood, Ashfield and then the city of Sydney. They arrived with 265 recruits and it was the most successful of all the recruiting marches that followed.

After 4 months of training at the Liverpool camp most of the Coo-ees embarked on March 8, 1916 on the Star of England for Egypt where some stayed with the 13th Battalion, while others joined the 45th Battalion.

However not all Cooees left in March or served in France. William Alston embarked for Egypt on RMS ‘Mongolia’’ on July 8, 1916. Perhaps his departure was delayed because of his behaviour. While at Liverpool camp William was fined £1.0.0 and 6 days pay on December 12, 1915 and again on January 11, 1916.

He also remained in Egypt in the Imperial Camel Corps.

The Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was formed in January 1916 in order to deal with the revolt of pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen in Egypt’s Western Desert. The 1st and 3rd Battlalions were entirely Australian, the 2nd was British, and the 4th was a mix of Australians and New Zealanders. The ICC also had its own machine gun unit, and a battery of light artillery recruited in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The men of the ICC had a rough reputation, largely because when the Corps was originally formed Australian battalion commanders had seized upon it as an opportunity to offload some of their more difficult characters. In 1917 a British supply dump at Rafa was warned to double their guards as the ICC was going to be camped nearby

The operations of the ICC in the Western Desert in 1916 were characterised by long patrols and brief skirmishes with the Senussi. British commanders in Egypt appreciated the fighting qualities of the ICC and in late 1916 the ICC was transferred to the Sinai desert to take part in operations against the Turkish army.. Here the battalions of the ICC fought alongside Australian light horse units at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa. This happened just as William arrived so he was transferred from the 1st Light Horse to the ICC.

The ICC remained an integral part of the British and dominion force that advanced north through Palestine in 1917 and 1918. It suffered particularly heavily during the Second Battle of Gaza on April 19, 1917, William suffered a gunshot wound to the arm and foot on April 22, 1917 and was admitted to 26 Casualty clearing station until discharged on June 8, 1917

The day after his discharge he was apprehended by the Military police for breaking camp and AWL from 1100 until 1700. For punishment he was deprived of 4 days pay and forfeited £1.5.0.

Then, in the operations conducted in November 1917 to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba, William was again wounded by a gunshot and taken to hospital.

As the ICC moved into the more fertile country of northern Palestine, its practicality declined. The camels needed more fodder and water than equivalent numbers of horses, and, unimpeded by the desert, horses could move much faster. The bulk of the ICC was disbanded in June 1918 and the Australians were used to form the 14th and 15th Light Horse Regiments. William was transferred to the 14th Light Horse.

William had mostly been in hospital from November 1917 until February 8, 1918 at Moascar, on the road between Cairo and Ismailaia. He was with his unit in Rafa and Surafend from February 1918 until July 1918 when once again he was sick and in hospital until October 1918.

By this time he was a driver with the 1st Light Horse in ‘the field’ until another admission to hospital 18th January 1919 at Kantara. This admission resulted in a charge of ‘neglecting to obey hospital orders’. His punishment was that he was to be ‘admonished by OC 2nd LH”. This was duly carried out on January 23, 1919. William was then sent to the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital, the 26 Stationary Hospital and then the 14th Australian General Hospital with an abscess in the groin. He was discharged in April 1919 . the next day he was charged with being drunk and disorderly and deprived of 7 days pay!!

Fortunately for William he was sent back to Australia on the ‘Dorset’ on April 29, 1919 and discharged from the army on July 26, 1919.

He was eligible for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

In 1941 he requested a copy of his discharge papers and a replacement badge as they had been lost in a fire. At the time he lived at 46 Douglas St Redfern.

William is on the Cooee Memorial Gateway at the Gilgandra Visitors Centre.

 

 

The Family of William Alston; provided by Bill Dudenhoeffer

William Henry (Bill) Alston

Born;                    12 May, 1893, Walgett, NSW

Married;      1923, Gilgandra, NSW

Died;          1943, Sydney, NSW

 

Ivy May Alston (Nee Quinton)

Born;          17 November, 1900, Coonabarbran, NSW

Married;      1923, Gilgandra, NSW

Died;                    15 January, 1974, Coonabarabran, NSW

 

CHILDREN

 

Iris Isabelle Dudenhoeffer (nee Alston)              Ph; (02) 4358 2278

Born;                    27 July 1923, Gilgandra, NSW

Kingfisher Shores, NSW                                     

 

William Henry (Billy) Alston                              Ph; (02) 9607 4185

Born:                    1925, Gilgandra, NSW

6 Ida Avenue, Lurnea, NSW 2170                       

 

Alan Alston (Deceased)

Born;                    4 February 1926, Walgett, NSW

Died;          1989, Port Macquarie, NSW

 

Jack Alston (Deceased)

Born;                    4 February 1926, Walgett, NSW

Died            6 February 1926, Walgett, NSW

 

June Elva Gould (Nee Alston)                            Ph; 0011 1541 5483 235

Born;          1929

1585 N.W. 59th Street, Redmond, Oregon, USA, 97756

 

Nola Saunders (Nee Alston)                                Ph; (02) 6842 2346

Born;          1936

1 Ann Street, Coonabarabran, NSW, 2357         

 

James Edward (Jimmy) Alston                          Ph; (02) 4297 0925

Born;                    1939

Site 12, Oaklands Village, Windang, NSW, 2528

 

Michael Alston                                           Ph; (02) 9546 6481

Born;          1942

3/18 Illawarra Street, Allawah, NSW                  

 

Background

 

William Henry (Bill) Alston was the first born of five (5) children from the marriage of of James Edward Allston and Lena Harris. He was born in 1893 in Walgett, NSW, as was his younger brother Thomas James in 1996 who died as an infant. (NB; Williams father spelled their surname several ways, however William signed his name as Alston with a single 'l').

 

William's father James was a timber getter, sleeper cutter and shearer who also drove stock and carried goods throughout the Coonabarabran district. The family eventually settled in Narrabri, NSW with the arrival of William's sister (Helena) Jane, and two (2) younger brothers, Samuel Stanley and James Edward Allston. Very little is known about William's earlier years and schooling, however on 1 September 1915 his mother Lena passed away at the early age of 37, and nothing further is known about the circumstances of her death. In that year he was working around the Gilgandra area as a labourer, and possibly timber-getter. He was 6 foot tall, weighed 168lbs (76kgs), had a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

 

He befriended Victor (Vic) Quinton of the Gilgandra District, and when the call came for military enrolement, they both signed up in Gilgandra, 9 October 1915, and joined the Cooee March to Sydney.

 

As per his military service record (Regimental No. 1086), William Alston was born at Walgett, NSW. He gave his age as 23 years and 4 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as general labourer. He completed his medical on 7 October 1915 at Gilgandra and was attested by Captain Nicholas on 9 October 1915 at Gilgandra. He claimed no previous military service.

 

On his embarkation roll, his address as time of enrolment was Narrabri West, NSW, and his next of kin is listed as sister, Miss Jane Alston, Narrabri West, NSW. It is interesting that William nominated his sister as his next-of-kin rather then his father.

Cooee Marches

 

The Gilgandra Cooee March of 1915 was the first of the recruiting marches organised in New South Wales. Gilgandra local plumber and rifle club member William T Hitchen (Captain Bill) proposed a route march from Gilgandra to Sydney. At every town there would be a demonstration to secure more recruits.

Thirty five men left Gilgandra on Sunday 10th October 1915 to march to Sydney through Dubbo, Molong Orange, Bathurst, Lithgow and over the mountains through Katoomba, Penrith, Parramatta, Burwood, Ashfield and then the city of Sydney. They arrived with 265 recruits and it was the most successful of all the recruiting marches that followed.

A letter from William Alston which was printed in The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate reports his impression of the early stages of the Coo-ee March:

‘Private W. Alston, who is a member of the Coo-ees, writing to a friend from Wellington said:- “We are having the time of our lives everywhere along the track. The people had most magnificent spreads and a most places a banquet at night. I reckon the men who gave in their names and never came up are missing the time of their lives, but you can’t call them men, they are only shirkers. I myself have had good times in Gil., but nothing to compare with this. If they keep on treating us like this I will have to get a new suit of clothes, as these will be too small. The crops from Dubbo to here look splendid. We Gil. boys have our lips nearly kissed off by the girls. We have got so used to it that we kiss married women and all. It shows they think something of us.”’[1]

After completing the march he went into camp at Menangle (Liverpool) Park, where after 4 months of training most of the Coo-ees embarked from Sydney on 8 March 1916 on the 'Star of England'. They were bound for Egypt where some stayed with the 13th Battalion, while others joined the 45th Battalion While many went on to serve in France, William embarked a short while later for Egypt on RMS ‘Mongolia’’ on 8 July 1916.

His initial training was not without some difficulties for the young country lad, and while at Liverpool camp, William was fined £1.0.0 and 6 days’ pay on 30 December and again on 11 January 1916 for being absent without leave. Once in Egypt on 19 August 1916, William was taken on strength of the 1st Light Horse Training Regiment. On 7 September 1916 he was taken on strength of the Imperial Camel Corps, and on 25 January 1917 William was taken on strength of the 1st ANZAC Battalion of the Imperial Camel Corps.

Imperial Camel Corps (ICC)

Newly formed in January 1916, the Imperial Camel Corps (ICC) was designed to deal with the revolt of pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen in Egypt’s Western Desert. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the ICC were entirely Australian, the 2nd was British, and the 4th was a mix of Australians and New Zealanders. The ICC also had its own machine gun unit, and a battery of light artillery recruited in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The men of the ICC had a rough reputation; largely because when the Corps was originally formed Australian battalion commanders had seized upon it as an opportunity to offload some of their more difficult characters. In 1917 a British supply dump at Rafa was warned to double their guards as the ICC was going to be camped nearby.

The operations of the ICC in the Western Desert in 1916 were characterised by long patrols and brief skirmishes with the Senussi tribesmen. British commanders in Egypt appreciated the fighting qualities of the ICC and in late 1916 the ICC was transferred to the Sinai desert to take part in operations against the Turkish army. Here the battalions of the ICC fought alongside Australian light horse units at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa.

The ICC remained an integral part of the British and Dominion force that advanced north through Palestine in 1917 and 1918. It suffered particularly heavy casualties during the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917. On 19 April 1917 Trooper Alston was with the 1st Battalion when it attacked a Turkish position outside Gaza in Palestine. 32 members of the Battalion were killed in the attack, and Trooper Alston was one of 164 members of the Battalion wounded.

On 22 April 1917, William received a gunshot wound to his left arm and the side of his foot, and was admitted to 26th Stationary Hospital until discharged on 8 June 1917. The day after his discharge he was apprehended by Military police for breaking camp and AWL from 1100 until 1700. For punishment he was deprived of 4 days pay and forfeited £1.5.0.

As the ICC moved into the more fertile country of northern Palestine, its practicality declined. The camels needed more fodder and water than equivalent numbers of horses, and, unimpeded by the desert, horses could move much faster. The bulk of the ICC was disbanded in June 1918 and the Australians were used to form the 14th and 15th Light Horse Regiments. William was transferred to the 14th Light Horse on 7 July 1917. Then, in operations conducted in November 1917 to destroy the Turkish defensive line between Gaza and Beersheba, he was again wounded by a gunshot and taken to hospital.

William had mostly been in hospital from November 1917 until 8 February 1918 at Moascar, on the road between Cairo and Ismailaia. He was with his unit in Rafa and Surafend from February 1918 until July 1918, when once again he was sick and in hospital until October 1918.

By this time William was a driver with the 1st Light Horse in ‘the field’ until another admission to hospital 18 January 1919 at Kantara. This admission resulted in a charge of ‘neglecting to obey hospital orders’, and he was ‘admonished by OC 2nd LH' on 23 January 1919. Having developed an abscess in the groin, William spent times at the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital, the 26th Stationary Hospital and then the 14th Australian General Hospital. He was discharged from hospital in April 1919, however the next day he was charged with being drunk and disorderly and deprived of 7 days pay. William shipped out of Port Said, Egypt aboard the ‘Dorset’ on 29 April 1919.

He arrived home in Australia on 11 June 1919, and was discharged on 26 July 1919 after nearly 4 years of military service. He was eligible for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Upon military discharge, William returned to the Gilgandra district where he courted his mate Vic Quinton's younger sister, Ivy May, and they eventually married in Gilgandra in 1923. With the arrival of their first children the couple moved to Coonabarabran and William continued working in the district as a timber getter, and sleeper cutter, supplying for the NSW Government Railways.

 

William Alston and his growing family lived in Coonabarabran where he found ready work in the surrounding timber industry, until 1939 when his wife Ivy moved to Sydney to care for her ailing mother. Within a short time the family was resettled in Douglas Street, Redfern although William continued to work for extended periods in the country. Tragically, in 1943 and at the age of 50 he died of drowning in Sydney Harbour. He was buried at Rookwood Cemetary, NSW.

 

At the time of his death, William was attempting to re-enlist in the Australian armed forces. He was survived by his wife Ivy, and seven (7) children.

The family of William Alston; supplied by Bill Dudenhoeffer