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My passion is genealogy and family history. I host a podcast about Australian family history, Genies Down Under. In my day job, I work as a lecturer and a researcher in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Week 3 NFHM Challenge: Military battle, family anniversary or significant event

Military battle, family anniversary or significant family event
Week 3 - Sunday 21 August - Significant military battles are commemorated during the month of August such as Mouquet Farm in WWI and Milne Bay in WW2.  The Australian Comforts Fund was also founded in August 1916.  Did your ancestors have connections to these places or battles?  Is there another anniversary or significant event that your family commemorates/remembers in August?

Just over 100 years ago, my great-uncle, Walter John NORTHCOTE, enlisted for active service in WWI at the age of 44 years of age. 

Walter John NORTHCOTE, in about 1938

Although we don't celebrate any military anniversaries in August in our family, I decided to commemorate the decision to join the army by one of my great-uncles Walter John NORTHCOTE in 1916. The thing that makes his decision to join the army a little bit different from many of his fellow military men is that he was 44 years of age when he joined. He was one of the oldest men in Australia to enlist during World War I.

Walter was one of 420,000 Australians who enlisted during 1914-1918. This represented 38.7% of the male population of Australia; their ages ranged between 18 and 44.2. [Statistics in this paragraph were drawn from the website, "Enlistment statistics, First World War", accessed 21 August 2016 at: https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/ww1/]

"The National Average Age for soldiers enlisting in WWI was 24.25 years of age. Having fluctuated from 23 in 1914, to 26 in 1916 and fell again to 24 by 1918." [Source: WWI Age at Enlistment: http://mq.edu.au/on_campus/museums_and_collections/australian_history_museum/online_exhibitions/oua_anzac_unit/wwi_age_at_enlistment/, accessed 21 August 2016]

He enlisted on 27 January 1916 at Casula, NSW. He was in the Mining Corps and 1 to 3 Reinforcements. His number was 2488.

Other information from his records include:
  • Born in Wellington, NSW
  • Was married
  • Next of kin was his wife, Elizabeth NORTHCOTE
  • Wheelright by occupation
  • Address: Albert St, Newtown
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Had completed an apprenticeship

Below are some snippets of his military records.

Physical description:

Source: National Archives of Australia

His signature, dated 27 January 1916:

During his time in the army, he travelled to France and England. He was eventually discharged on 27 June 1919.

Source: National Archives of Australia

He was awarded two medals: 1) British General Service Medal; and 2) Victory Medal.

Source: National Archives of Australia

I would like to acknowledge the contribution Walter John NORTHCOTE made to the military forces in Australia.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you provide snippets from his military record. It is wonderful thath these records lets us view the original signatures along with physical descriptions to give us a sense of the person.