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GORDON, William Mathew Alexander


William was born in the Bay Road (Glenelg) area of Adelaide South Australia on the 24th November 1882. After active service in the South African Boer War, as Private No. 2679 of the Fourth Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse, William joined the South Australian Police Force, on 1st November 1903. As a member of the South Australian Police Force, he transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st June 1904. He was stationed at Palmerston from May until July 1907.


Then he moved to Borroloola on the 1st August 1907 where he served until the 13th February 1908. He moved to Anthony’s Lagoon Station on the 13th February 1908, remaining there until the 12th November 1908. William is reported to have been at Powell’s Creek Police Station in August 1908. He may have been passing through whilst he was at Anthony’s Lagoon.


Alternately, he may have been stationed there, but the Station appears to have been unmanned after Mounted Constable Johnstone left in March 1905 until Mounted Constable Noblet took over the Station in 1910. William transferred back to South Australia on the 8th November 1909.


William who was 5 foot 11 inches tall, enlisted as private No. 2741 of the Nineteenth Reinforcements to the Ninth (South Australian / Tasmanian) Australian Light Horse Regiment on the 28th of September 1915. In his enlistment attestation papers, he recorded his occupation as ‘Colt Breaker’. His dependants were listed as his wife Rose and two children. He embarked to Egypt as an acting Sergeant on the HMAT Mongolia on the 13th July 1916 and was taken on the field strength of the Ninth Australian Light Horse Regiment on the 12th of August 1916.


William transferred to the Eleventh Company of the Third Battalion Imperial Camel Corps on 1st September 1916. The Camel Corps comprised mostly Australian volunteers. The Cameleers saw a lot of action in the Egyptian and Palestine desert operation.


Those actions included the three battles for Gaza. Apart from their unique mode of transport, the tactics for the Camel Corps differed operationally from the Light Horse. The Camel Corps would ride to a point and then dismount and they would operate as infantry. The Light Horse would also engage the enemy on foot but if circumstances dictated, they would take aggressive mounted action, such as engaging in mounted charges or running the enemy troops down in or about the trenches as occurred on a number of occasions such as during the mounted charge in the Battle of Beersheba.


As military operations against the Turks passed out of the sand and the waterless Sinai desert into Syria, the operational advantage of the Camel was surpassed by the use of horses, which were more adaptable to the various military operations such as were unfolding in the new terrain. To put more adequate horse mounted troops in the field, the Camel Corps were disbanded. The Thirteen / Third Regiment's of the Australian Light Horse were formed from the Australian cameleers. William transferred to the Thirteen / Third Regiment and served with it until the 25th of May 1918 when he was appointed as an acting Sergeant on the instructional staff of the Australian Light Horse. With the war over, he embarked on the HMAT Berrima in Suez on 15th January 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on 6th April 1919. He was not wounded in action but was hospitalised twice for dysentery and other infections, the last admission being for Diphtheria.


After his return to Australia he was assessed as being, 40% debilitated from his infections. After he was discharge, a scribbled note on his personnel file listed him as being employed as a surveyor with the South Australian Railways.

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