Tag Archives: William Alston

William ALSTON

William ALSTON

William Alston on the occasion of his marriage to Miss. I. Quinton, sister of Coo-ee Victor Quinton, at Gilgandra, 1923 (Photograph courtesy of Dell Tschanter)

William Alston on the occasion of his marriage to Miss. I. Quinton, sister of Coo-ee Victor Quinton, at Gilgandra, 1923 (Photograph courtesy of  Dell Tschanter)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 1086), William Alston was born at Walgett, N.S.W. He gave his age as 23 years and 4 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as general labourer.  His description on his medical was height 6 feet tall, weight 168 lbs., with a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair. His religious denomination was Anglican.  He completed his medical on the 7th October 1915 at Gilgandra and was attested by Captain Nicholas on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra. He claimed to have had no previous military service.

On his embarkation roll his address as time of enrolment was Narrabri West, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as sister, Miss Jane Alston, Narrabri West, N.S.W.

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 Park as reinforcement for the Camel Corps.

Trooper Alston departed Sydney on the RMS Mongolia on the 8th July 1916. After his arrival in Egypt, on the 19th August 1916 he was taken on strength of the 1st Light Horse Training Regiment. On the 7th September 1916 he was taken on strength of the Imperial Camel Corps. On the 25th January 1917 he was taken on strength of the 1st ANZAC Battalion of the Imperial Camel Brigade.

On the 19th April 1917 Trooper Alston was with the 1st Battalion when it attacked a Turkish position outside Gaza in Palestine. Trooper Alston was one of 164 members of the Battalion wounded in the attack receiving a gunshot wound to his left arm and the side of his foot. Another 32 members of the Battalion were killed in the attack.

Trooper Alston was hospitalised for his wounds and re-joined his unit on the 17th July 1917.

On the 7th July 1918 he was transferred to the 14th Light Horse Regiment.

Trooper Alston departed Port Said, Egypt, aboard the HT Dorset on 29th April 1919, commencing his return to Australia. He arrived in Australia on the 11th June 1919, and was discharged on the 26th July 1919.

[1]‘Coo-ees and kisses’, The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 5 November, 1915, p 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77601844




Day 1, Sunday, 10th October, 1915, Gilgandra to Balladoran

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

Transcribed from The Farmer and Settler, 12 October, 1915, p. 3.


Gilgandra’s greatest of all events, the start of the route march, became a fact of history on Sunday last, when the contingent after a simple religious ceremony stepped out on its long march to the coast.

On Saturday, when the ‘Farmer and Settler’ special reporter, who will march to Sydney, arrived at Gilgandra, he found Captain Nicholas and Drs. Burkitt and Cooper, of Dubbo, on the ground. Captain Nicholas has been appointed to take charge of the contingent, and be will be their leader and instructor all the way through to Sydney.

On Saturday afternoon twenty-five recruits were sworn in. Two failed to pass the doctor, but they will march through to the coast nevertheless. The number of recruits would have been double if the recruiting association had not been compelled to wait so long for the permission of the military authorities, the result being that many men grew tired of waiting, and went into camp. The doctor said that the Gilgandra men were as fine a body of recruits as he had seen, with good feet and sound constitutions. On Saturday night a torchlight procession paraded the town, headed by the band. The recruits were followed by the rifle club and the boy scouts. In the interval of a picture show, Major Winn, of Sydney, and Private Lee, the ex-clergyman recruit, made special appeals to the young men to volunteer.

There were fully three thousand persons, almost the whole population of the district, at the open-air consecration service on Sunday morning, when the Rev. W. Jenkins commended the men to their Creator.

The shire president, Mr. Barden, said he was sure that the twenty-five starting out would be five hundred at the end of the long march. Almost the whole of the people, the largest gathering ever seen at Gilgandra, accompanied the march to Boberah, where a general programme of hand-shaking took place. A guard of honor of young horsewomen   rode at the head of the procession, and the local recruiting association and shire councillors took part. Captain Nicholas formed up his little force — grown already to thirty-one men; and Mr. W. T. Hitchens had the honor of giving the first words of command–‘Quick march.’ Amid resounding cheers the route march had begun, and it was followed for several miles of its long journey, by a great cavalcade of horses and vehicles. Then there was a halt, with more good-byes, more cheers, and the rifle club fired a parting volley.

The heat was intense, and the dust hung over the troops like a pillar of cloud — a fiery cloud, so that when the first stop, Marthaguy, was reached, all were grateful for the lunch spread by the residents, and not less for the facilities provided for a wash and a freshen up. At Marthaguy one new recruit fell in. Many of the Gilgandra folk still followed the column. The young daughter of a prominent citizen left her car and marched alongside the men for some distance; she announced her intention of being present in Martin Place at the finish, and declared that if she had been a boy she would have marched all the way, and gone to the front with the contingent. It is a pity that some of the boys have not the spirit of the girls.

Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

‘Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march’ – Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

At Balladoran the townspeople met the column a mile out of town and escorted them to their camp with banners, and gave them a hearty welcome. The camp was reached at five o’clock, and here another recruit joined the column.

Following are the names of the first twenty-five to enlist:–

John Quinn, John Macnamara, Stanley E. Stephens, Jack Hunt, William L. Hunt, Albert W. Pearce, Leslie W. Greenleaf, Arthur C. Finn, Francis N. White, Alfred Wardroffe, Victor Quinton, William Alston, Sidney Bennett, John R. Lee, Harold Baxter, Charles R. Wheeler, E. T. Hitchen, James McKeown, James Crowford, Charles E. Marchant, Andrew J. MacGregor, Lawrence L. McGuire, Robert C. Campbell, Peter Wilson, and Frank Humphrey.’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116668904