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Alexander Stewart BILLINGTON


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 6293 25y6m 30/10/16 12/5/1919 1

Alexander Stewart Billington (1891-1956)

Billington Brothers booklet

Family Background

Alexander Stewart Billington was the second son of Annie Elspeth Stewart and William Gresty Billington and was born on 29 May 1891.   His parents were married on 2 June 1885 at the Stewart family home, Glen Lyon, in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove by the Rev Colin McCullock, Minister of Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church. 

William Gresty Billington, his father, came from England to Melbourne where he was occupied in the soft goods trade.  On coming to Brisbane he managed the firm of Scott, Dawson and Stewart before moving with his family to Charleville in Western Queensland where he opened a general store.

The family later moved to Laidley where Mr Billington was engaged in sawmilling   He retired from business after this venture and settled in Brisbane.   William Gresty Billington was a Master Mason and, in 1905, was a founder of the Automobile Club of Queensland (now the RACQ).  Mrs Annie Billington died in 1928 aged 64 years.

At the time of their three sons' enlistment to serve in the AIF, the family home was Bearsden, Banks Street, Newmarket. 

School, work and link to Saint Andrew's

Alexander Billington attended Brisbane Grammar School in the year 1906.  He and his mother were listed on the Communicants' Roll of Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church when they lived at Zillman Road, Ascot in 1911 and 1912.  

He worked as a clerk in Innisfail, North Queensland in 1913 and prior to enlisting had been a station hand on Rawbelle Station, Eidsvold.  

Enlistment and service

Alex Billington enlisted on 30 October 1916 in Brisbane to serve oversease in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).  He was then 25 years and 6 months old, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches (171.5 cm) tall and weighed 145 lbs (66 kg).  His mother, Annie, who was then living at Banks Street, Newmarket was next-of-kin and his religious denomination, Presbyterian.  Private Billington with Regimental Number 6298 joined the 18th Reinforcements for 25th Battalion at Rifle Range, Enoggera Camp.   This unit embarked from Sydney on board HMAT Demosthenes on 23 December 1916 and arrived at Plymouth, England on 3 March 1917.

In preparation for the battlefields of France and Belgium, Private Alex Billington occupied barracks at Rollestone Training Camp in Southern England until mid-June except for three weeks in hospital with mumps.  He then proceeded to France to join Australian troops based at Le Havre.   The 25th Battalion had taken part in battle in the mud and danger of the Somme Valley and acted in a supportive role at the Second Battle of Bullecourt.  In September 1917, the 25th Battalion was engaged in heavy fighting at the Battle of Menin Road in Belgium.   Victory here was followed up with the capture of Broodseinde Ridge in early October.

1918 was another exhausting year as the 25th fought to turn back the German spring offensive commencing in April and then participated in battle at Morlancourt.  Though at this time the Australians were gaining a reputation for their successful fighting spirit, Private Alexander Billington was among the many casualties.  Suffering the affects of severe gas poisoning on 23 May 1918, Alex Billington was transported to Birmingham War Hospital.

As he gradually regained strength he was moved to Darford, then Hurdcott and Sutton Viny.   It was October before he was discharged from rehabilitation to join reinforcements for training for the 9th Battalion.  The Armistice was announced on 11 November.   Private Billington camped at Codford, England till his return to Australia per the troopship Orca on 19 February 1919.  

Post-war

Alex disembarked at Brisbane on 6 April and returned to live at his mother's home - Bearsden, Banks Street, Newmarket - along with his sister Elsie and brother William.

After his mother's death in 1928, Alex Billington was a farmer for a while on Russell Island.  From 1936-1937 he was living at 62 Wagner Street, Clayfield with his sister Elsie and brother William, and he was employed again as a clerk.  Alex and Elsie had moved to 22 Vine Street, Clayfield by 1943.  Alex spent the final years of his life at Eventide by the Sea at Sandgate.  He died on 2 October 1956. 

Booklet 


References  

  • Australian  War  Memorial   
  • First  World  War  Embarkation  Rolls   
  • Honours  and  Awards   
  • Unit  Histories  
  • Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church Annual Reports 1910,  1911,  1912,  1921,  1923, Archives, Saint Andrew's Uniting Church, Brisbane
  • The  Golden  Book,  Archives,  Brisbane  Grammar  School   
  • Bean  CEW,  Anzac  to  Amiens,  Penguin  Books,  Melbourne,  2014
  • Brisbane  City  Council  Cemetery  Records  
  • Commonwealth  Electoral  Rolls,  1913  -­  1968      
  • National  Archives  of  Australia,  military  records,  World  War  1   
  • Queensland  Register  of  Births,  Marriages,  Deaths   
  • AIF  Project  Website,  2015      
  • The  Week,  Brisbane,  7  Jan  1921,  p  7;  5  Feb  1926,  p  20   
  • The  Queenslander,  27  Mar  1886;  6  March  1915,  p  22;  27  November  1920,  p  8   
  • The  Brisbane  Courier,  9  June  1885,  p  1;  28  Sept  1910,  p  5;    6  Dec  1910;  26  Dec  1917,   p  7;  26  Nov  1919,  p  6;  23  Sept  1921;  3  Feb  1926,  p  19;  16  Oct  1926   
  • Warwick  Examiner  and  Times,  27  Jan  1900,  p  2   
  • The  Telegraph,  Brisbane,  3  May  1928,  p  8   
  • The  Courier-­Mail,  Brisbane,  17  Jan  1942;  13  Jan  1949   
  • The  Charleville  Times,  21  Jan  1949,  p  12      
  • The State Library of Queensland              

Prepared  by  Noel  E  Adsett,  Dec  2015    

 

 

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