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Richard Stewart BILLINGTON MC


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Capt 20y10m 22/07/19 1

Captain Richard Stewart Billington MC (1891-1956)

Billington Brothers booklet

Family Background

Richard Stewart Billington was the fourth son of Annie Elspeth Stewart and William Gresty Billington and was born on 23 February 1894.   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. 

Early life

Richard Stewart Billington attended the Southport High School for boys (now The Southport School - TSS) and in 1910 was awarded the Dudley Cup and a gold medal for being the champion rifle shot of the school.  The presentation was made by the Governor of Queensland, Sir William MacGregor, who said the score of 83 out of a possible 103 was a "very good performance".  Richard also received awards of Mid-Winter Prize and Best Athlete at the annual prize-giving day, later in the same year.

Enlistment

Richard was working as a clerk in Brisbane when war was declared in 1914.  Though the youngest of the Billing boys who served in the Great War, Richard was the first to join up.   His parents signed a statement giving their "full permission to enlist in the Australian Expeditionary Force for service as required".  

At the age of 20 years and 10 months, Dick Billington joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 10 December 1914, naming his mother, Mrs A E Billington of Newmarket as next-of-kin and stating his religious denomination as Church of England.

A short period of training followed at Enoggera Camp and when he embarked on 9 February 1915 from Brisbane on board HMAT Itria, part of reinforcements for the 5th Light Horse Regiment bound for Egypt, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Service

The Light Horse were considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli but were subsequently deployed without their horses to reinforce the infantry.  His brigade landed there in late May 1915.  At his own request he reverted to the ranks on arrival on the peninsula.  Involved in several minor attacks, the 5th Light Horse played a defensive role for most of the campaign during which Richard Billington again received promotion to Corporal in July and Sergeant in November.  Evacuation occurred on 20 December 1915 and the 5th Light Horse returned to Egypt and their horses.  Back in Egypt, the 2nd Light Horse Brigade became part of the ANZAC Mounted Division and in February 1916 joined the forces defending the Suez Canal from a Turkish advance across the Sinai Desert.  The 5th Light Horse's main activity in the Sinai was long­?range patrolling, but it was involved in several small engagements during August, as the Turks retreated after their defeat at Romani.  Richard Billington was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in July and to the rank of Lieutenant 26  October 1916.  The ANZAC Mounted Division advanced into Palestine in late December 1916.  Lieutenant Billington served as Orderly Officer to Colonel Commanding 2nd Light Horse Battalion during June 1917.  The work of the 5th Light Horse Regiment continued to be mainly patrols and raids until the advance stalled before the Turkish bastion of Gaza.  The regiment participated in all three battles aimed at capturing the town.   

 

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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