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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Major 36y 1878 20 Aug 1914 16 Sep 1919 3

(1878-1945) Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Chisholm DSO, OBE, VD


Early years 

Alexander Chisholm was born on 8 December 1878 in Brisbane, son of William Chisholm, draper and senior Elder at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, and Margaret, née Gibson. He attended Leichhardt Street State School then Brisbane Grammar School from 1892 to 1894. He joined his father’s drapery business, W. Chisholm and Co., then worked for Wright and Neil, Bourke Street, Melbourne and Grace Brothers, Sydney from 1897 to 1900 and returned to his father’s firm in 1901. Two years later he became manager of the drapery department of Cullinane’s Ltd, general merchants of Gympie. On 13 October 1909 he married Alice Ruth Curtis at Bundaberg. 

Commission and service at Gallipoli

Alexander Chisholm was commissioned in the 13th Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry in July 1911. He served with this unit which was renamed in 1912 the 1st Light Horse Regiment, Australian Military Forces. On 20 August 1914, Lieutenant Chisholm enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed to the 2nd Light Horse Regiment. In May 1914 the regiment was sent to Gallipoli to fight as infantry. He served at Quinn’s Post and Pope’s Hill until the peninsula was evacuated at the end of the year. 

Distinguished Service Award and end of service

Early the following year Alexander Chisholm took part in operations in Upper Egypt and was appointed brigade major before the advance into Sinai. He fought in the decisive Battle of Romani and at Katia and Bir el Abd, Magdhaba and Rafa. Major Chisholm fought throughout the 1917 Palestine campaign, participating in the Second Battle of Gaza and the capture of Beersheba. On 1 January 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. 

He was severely wounded in the neck in April 1918 at Musallabeh and on resuming duty was made general staff officer for the Australian Mounted Division, a post he held until his demobilization in September 1919. He was mentioned in despatches three times during the Sinai and Palestine campaigns. Alexander Chisholm continued his military career on his return to Australia, serving in the AMF and in 1921-24 was lieutenant colonel commanding the 5th LHR. 

Life after the military

He resumed his business in Gympie at first but moved in 1923 to Rockhampton where he established a highly successful drapery and later a branch in Biloela. He was active in his local community and held office with the Gympie Agricultural Mining and Pastoral Society, Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme, the Rockhampton Agricultural Society, the Central Queensland Employers’ Association and other organisations. He took a keen interest in the welfare of returned soldiers. It was due to his activities that the Central Queensland district branch and the Rockhampton sub-branch of the RSSAILA were formed. He received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1939. 


Mr Chisholm was killed in a car crash between Mt Morgan and Dululu on 22 August 1945. The Central Queensland Herald reported:

“In every community there are men who will work for good without measuring their service in terms of esteem or respect from the public. This service they render spontaneously and without ostentation, because it is in their nature to do so. Such men without seeking, reach positions of prominence in a community. Such a man was the late Alexander Chisholm, DSO, OBE, VD.”

He was survived by his wife and two daughters, Mrs Bradley of Dingo and Miss Ruth Chisholm of Rockhampton.” 

Select Bibliography 
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane, Archives, Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Reports 1901 – 1925 
• Charles Bean, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Volume VII - The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914-1918 (10th edition, 1941) 
• David Carment, ‘Chisholm, Alexander (1878-1945)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, ANU, accessed on line 7 June 2014 
The Golden Book, Archives, Brisbane Grammar School
Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 2 June 1926, 2 January 1939, 18 August 1945
The Central Queensland Herald, Rockhampton, 5 January 1939, 23 August 1945
The Capricornian, Rockhampton, 8 December 1927
• National Archives of Australia, military records
• Australian War Memorial, military records 
• AIF Australian Imperial Force
• AMF Australian Military Forces
• DSO Distinguished Service Order
• OBE Order of the British Empire
• RSSAILA Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia
• VD The Volunteer Officers' Decoration 

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane, October 2014 ©



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