Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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Preston : The Great War


ALEXANDER, William James   Alexander was born in N.S.W. and served as 31534, Trooper with the 2nd Scottish Horse (made up of Victorians) in South Africa. In October, 1914, he enlisted for the Great War, giving his address as Queen Street, Regent.  He served in the 4 Camel Transport Corps in the Middle East, initially as a Private, but with the rank of Warrant Officer Class II when he returned to Australia in December, 1916 after completing four years' service.  He appears to have been married after returning and died in Sydney Hospital on 3 June, 1924, the cause apparently not related to his military service.

CAPPER, Frederick William   Volunteered for South Africa from Richmond and served as 1690, Saddler, with the Fifth Victorian Mounted Rifles, and in December, 1901 listed as dangerously ill.  In July, 1915, he enlisted at 37 years of age while living with his wife and family at 'Brooklyn', Jessie Street, Preston. Capper embarked as a Private with the 22 Infantry, but was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant before returning to Australia in October, 1916 suffering from the effects of shell shock.  He died in Preston, 1955 (pictured right)

ELSTON, James Robert was noted on Attestation as having served with the Royal Horse Artillery during the Boer War, overall spending some 12 years with the unit based at Woolwich, London. He was born in Blackpool, England and in Railway Place, Preston when he enlisted in February, 1916. Shown as a Farrier, he was assigned the specialist rank of Farrier Sergeant with the 1st Wireless Signal Squadron. He appears to have arrived in Australia with his wife Georgetta Elizabeth in February, 1913. Elstone died in Heidelberg in December, 1935 and was cremated at Fawkner Cemetery. Georgette (nee Long) died in Preston in 1948 at 72 years of age, also cremated at Fawkner.

The Death Notice may have appeared incorrectly – the only death recorded of children of the couple was actually shown as Frederick James Robert who died in West Preston in 1971 at 73 years. That placed for Georgette also referred to a daughter Gladys of whom there is no trace in Victorian Registrations)

ELSTON. — On the 11th December, passed away, James Robert, the dearly beloved husband of Georgetta Elston. of 30 Railway-place, Preston, and loving father of Frederick, James, Robert, aged 64 years. Served with Australian troops in South Africa during the Boer War, and Farrier-Sgt. Major, 1st Australian Wireless Signal Squadron. A.I.F.

FREDERICK, William Cecil Sydney  33474, Trooper, 2nd Scottish Light Horse. His WW1 attestation suggests he also spent 3 months with the Natal Field Artillery and 12 months with the Australian Field Artillery, the latter unit part of the volunteer forces.  He enlisted in October, 1917 while living with his mother at 16 Jeffrey Street, Preston and served with the Australian Army Pay Corps. He returned in May, 1919 and is noted as having died on 17 October, 1950.

GEDDES, Thomas  Volunteered for South African service from North Fitzroy and served 208 days as 452, Private, 2 Australian Commonwealth Horse (Victoria).  He was married and living at 16 Percival Street, Preston when he enlisted in September, 1915. Geddes served initially with 1 Australian Remount Unit and returned to Australia in October, 1916 after the unit was disbanded. A hospital attendant in civilian life, he re-enlisted in May, 1918 while living at Wandin and served until September, 1919 with the Medical Corps attached to the Naval and Military Expeditionary Force based in the islands to the north of Australia. Died in Preston, 1960 at 84 years.

HOWARD, George   Howard was born in Auckland and living with his mother in Brunswick when he was accepted as 31627, Trooper as part of the 2nd Scottish Horse Regiment. He was shown as a 40 year-old cook when he enlisted in February, 1915, then with his mother at 68 Cramer Street, Preston. He served as 558, Private with the 23 Infantry before returning to Australia with chronic rheumatism in April, 1917.  He is noted as dying on 26 June, 1947.

LONG, James *  His World War One Attestation suggests he spent 12 years in the British Army before migrating to Australia with his young family in 1912. His unit is not disclosed in the various Boer War databases, the best fit maybe 32665, 7 Battalion Infantry Yeomen. The family were at 84 Bell Street, Preston when he enlisted in January, 1916. Long served as a Private with 4 Infantry Battalion before being killed at Bullecourt, France on 11 April, 1917. He was 43 years of age and left a widow and four children aged 16 and under. Pictured right on WW1 enlistment, but waring South African campaign decorations.

WILSON, Peter Henry  Wilson was born in Port Pirie and served as 424, Trooper with the 5th South Australian Bushmen and later with a Remount unit of the South African permanent forces.   He was living with his wife at 19 Warrs Avenue, South Preston when he enlisted in February, 1917. He served as 3537 with 4 Light Horse Regiment in Egypt before returning to Australia in April, 1919.  Died in Heidelberg, 1965 at 78 years

WRIGHT. Osbert   Born in Warwickshire, England, Wright claimed on Attestation to have served three years in the Imperial Army, including 10 months in South Africa with 63 Royal Field Artillery (a note in the Leader on his return from the Great War suggests he completed his three years before attaining his majority.  The date of his move to Australia is not known; he was a 36 year-old painter and decorator, married and in Queen Street, Preston when he enlisted in August, 1917. Wright served as a Private with 37 Battalion before embarking for return to Australia  just a few days before the Armistice suffering from chronic rheumatism. A son Kenneth served in the Second World War.  Died Surrey Hills, 1950 at 68 years.

The image, part of a collection taken by a well-known Preston identity, Evan Luly, shows Wright on the right in "civvies".  He is pictured with Alfred Livingstone Freeman of Regent Street, Preston just before the latter embarked on 30 October 1917. Freeman died from pneumonia in England on 5 November, 1917 by which time Wright was completing his training. Luly also volunteered, but was rejected on medical grounds.