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Algernon Fittall PILCHER


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 556 27y3m 30/10/14 13/06/16 1

(Private Algernon Fittall Pilcher (1887 – 1954

Pilcher Brothers Booklet

The Pilchers of Pentland

Richard and Lydia Pilcher and their two baby sons embarked from England on the sailing ship Stirlingshire in 1882, via the Cape of Good Hope to the port of Townsville where Richard soon owned a small business as a general blacksmith and built and invented an efficient scarifier which was exhibited in the Townsville annual show. Richard was enterprising and industrious. After establishing a successful farming business in the Ayr District, the family moved to the Deep Lead Goldfield near Cape River. 

Richard and Lydia took up land six miles from Pentland and the farm they established became the foundation of the several properties which were later worked by their sons. Pentland is a town in north-western Queensland between Charters Towers and Hughenden, 240 kilometres (150 miles) from the North Queensland city of Townsville. The Cape River rises in the area.

Mr and Mrs Pilcher stayed on their selection with their family till they died, Richard in 1939 and Lydia the following year. They were well known in their local community, notably hospitable, musical, involved in church and school activities. The family included seven sons and three daughters. 

The names of their four sons who served in the Great War appear on the honour boards in the Soldiers Memorial Hall at Pentland and Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church in Brisbane. The two older brothers, Algernon and Ernest came to Brisbane as ambulance officers and were members of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. They enlisted to serve in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914. Their two younger brothers, Leon and Percy enlisted in Charters Towers in January 1916 and began their training at Enoggera before embarkation later that year.

Early Life

Born near Ayr in North Queensland, Algernon Fittall Pilcher went to Pentland as an infant. The district was known as the Cape, named after the Cape River which for a short period around 1867 was mined for gold. Algy’s parents, Richard Pilcher and Lydia (née Fittall) farmed a property called Eythorne. 

Algy and his brothers and sisters attended Deep Lead Provisional School. As a young man he learnt carpentry and left Pentland to join the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade in Ann Street, Brisbane. During this time he and his brother Ernest, also an ambulance bearer, became members of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

Enlistment and Service

At the age of 27 years 3 months, he enlisted on 30 October 1914 in Brisbane for service abroad in the Australian Imperial Force. He was allotted service number 556 in the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance. Unfortunately, however, Private Algernon Pilcher was troubled with illness. Even before leaving Australia, he suffered with asthma and measles and laryngitis, spending times in hospital in both Brisbane and Sydney. Informed he was cured of these ills, he embarked with his unit from Newcastle on HMAT Boonah on 21 December 1914.

Ill health continued for this soldier on board the troopship and at Maadi Camp on arrival in Egypt. As asthma attacks continued, he was sent to Lemnos Island for medical treatment. By May 1915, Private Pilcher was cleared for duty on Gallipoli Peninsula where he remained till 3 September when he was again struck down with serious illness. 

He was transported on the hospital ship Gascon to Malta for treatment firstly at St Patrick’s Hospital and later at Ghain Tuffieha. Early in February 1916, he was transported per hospital ship Lanfranc for admission to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital Cairo. On account of continuing attacks of asthma, Algernon was sent back to Australia on Karoola for discharge on 13 June 1916.

Life in Australia after Service

Algernon received a warm welcome home at the Pentland school room when he was presented with a gold medal engraved, “Presented to A. F. Pilcher by the residents of Pentland as a mark of esteem.” He married Rose May Michelmore later in the same year and worked his orchard, a show place in the district for quality fruit for many years. He exhibited citrus at the Northern show. Mr Pilcher represented the Charters Towers Ambulance in Pentland.

Passing

When he died on 25 August 1954, Algernon was survived by his widow, four sons and one daughter.

The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.     (Mario Puzo)

Pilcher Brothers Booklet


Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records
• Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Reports, 1901 – 1925
• The Queenslander, Brisbane, 8 July 1916, 27 July 1918, 10 August 1918, 28 December 1929
• Townsville Daily Bulletin, 4th May 1926, 26 August 1954
• The Northern Miner, Charters Towers, 9 October 1917, 25 October 1922, 30 January 1924, 29 July 1927, 22 October 1932, 21 July 1934, 2 September 1937, 22 July 1939, 31 July 1946
• The North Queensland Register, Townsville, 9 December 1901
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
• Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, 7 September 1918
• Pentland Cemetery Records
• Australian War Memorial, Canberra

 


Compiled by N. E. Adsett, Brisbane, October 2014

 

 

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