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Alexander EASTON

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 19y3m 9 Sep 1914 28 Sep 1916 1

Private Alexander Easton (1895-1954)


A buzz of mingled pride, eagerness and apprehension went round the 3rd Brigade of the Australian infantry when they were selected by General Bridges to be the ‘covering party’ (the first into action) in April 1915.

In ‘C’ Company of the 9th Battalion – the Queensland Battalion in the 3rd Brigade - was 19 years-old Private Alexander Easton.

Alexander was born in Christmas Street, Toowoomba on 17 June 1895 to locomotive driver Alexander Easton and his wife Jane (nee Pettigrew), both from Scotland. In 1914 young Alexander – 5 feet 7 inches (170cm) tall, weighing 128 lbs (58kg), with blue eyes and fair hair - was living in Vulture Street in Brisbane and working as a storeman.  

Alexander had had some militia training and on 9 September 1914 he enlisted in the 9th Battalion, in time for the Battalion’s departure on 24 September on the troopship Omrah. At Albany, WA the Omrah joined the imposing first convoy of Australian and New Zealand ships to the Middle East.


C Company of the 9th Battalion was onboard the destroyer Beagle in the very early hours of the morning of 25 April 1915, as the Anzacs made their landing at Gallipoli. Turkish defenders on high ground to the south saw the Beagle and opened up with rifle and machine gun fire. Bullets pattered on the high bows of the destroyer and thrashed up the water around the landing boats.

Immediately on reaching the beach C Company dropped their packs and charged at the Turks who were as close as 60 yards from the shore in low scrub and trenches. The infantry then hurried on – it had been drilled into the covering party they must press on inland as hard as they could go. C Company reached what was marked on their maps as ‘400 Plateau’, part of which became known as Lone Pine, and some stormed Turkish artillery nearby, before occupying Bolton’s Ridge for a time.

The day became more and more confused amid attacks, counter-attacks and relentless salvos from the Turkish artillery on a semi-circle of heights around 400 Plateau. After this maelstrom and further fighting on the next two days, a little over half of the men of the 9th Battalion were dead, wounded or missing.

On 19 May a huge Turkish attack along all the Anzac lines was repulsed with high numbers of Turkish casualties. The rifle-fire of the 9th Battalion swept away the attackers charging towards its trenches, but the defenders were then punished by heavy artillery barrages.

On 28 June an attack on Snipers Ridge was undertaken by two companies of the 9th Battalion, one being C Company. That company soon came under heavy shrapnel and machine-gun fire from both flanks. It was forced to retire having taken many casualties.

Alexander Easton survived these actions, as well as the daily sniping, frequent shelling and lesser attacks - but enemies were not confined to the Turks. Flies and lice thrived amid problems with sanitation and hygiene and bodies lying between the trenches. These pests helped the spread of dysentery, enteric fever and paratyphoid. Continuous hardship, fatigue and poor diet weakened the longer-serving Anzacs, making them easy prey for disease.

Alexander succumbed in the middle of August, with ‘debility’ and then ‘enteric’ diagnosed. He embarked on the Karoola on 30 October 1915 and back in Australia was discharged on 28 September 1916.

Later years

In 1917 in Warwick, Alexander married Elsie Vera Pettigrew, daughter of a local farmer, with Presbyterian rites. They had one son, Alexander Muir.  Alexander senior then lived in Warwick for many years working as a railway employee, and was a vice-president of the Warwick branch of the Returned Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia.  At some point he and Elsie separated, and by 1953 he was residing at the Soldiers Rest Home, Coolangatta, passing away there on 29 August 1954, aged 59.  His estate was divided between his son and two of his sisters (Evelyn and Mary). 

Select bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military service and repatriation records.
• Australian War Memorial, including 9th Battalion War Diaries.
• Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
• Queensland electoral rolls.
Warwick Daily News, 4 February 1942, p3.
• Bean, C.E.W.  Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 , vols i and ii, Sydney, 1921-1942.
• Carlyon, Les  Gallipoli, Sydney, 2001.
• Grey, Jeffrey  A Military History of Australia, Cambridge, 3rd edition, 2008.
• Tyquin, Michael  Gallipoli: The Medical War, Sydney,  1993.
• Wrench, C.M. Campaigning with the Fighting Ninth Brisbane, 1985.

Compiled by Ian Carnell AM, February 2016 © CopyRevised December 2017 ©

January 2022 additions MK ©



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