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