Friday, 9 January 2015

Private George Douglas

This week’s post presents a problem many family historians encounter – “the mystery man”.

Private George Douglas’ Service Records on the National Archives of Australia website, state that his place of birth was Ballarat East, and that he enlisted in Ballarat. His occupation was given as Miner, and his Next of Kin was his sister Olive. His age is 23 years and 1 month, in December 1914.

So he should have been born around 1891, but when we look in the Victorian Birth Death and Marriage records, we cannot find him.  A search for his sister Olive is also inconclusive.  We can find a George Douglas, with a sister Olive, but his birth year is 1886, making him much older than 23, and neither of them were born in Ballarat.  A search of the Victorian Death Index also doesn’t reveal anything.

His enlistment papers suggest he was originally in the Light Horse, but he is listed in the All-Australia Memorial as part of the 3rd Reinforcements for the 7th Battalion.  This means he was serving under Lt.Col. Harold (Pompey) Elliott, in the Infantry.  In the Memorial, his address is given as North Carlton – what was he doing there, if his occupation was “miner”?

So there are many questions we can’t answer about this fellow. Nevertheless, we are going to include him, and follow his experiences through the Great War, as he represents many of those soldiers about whom nothing much is known.  Just maybe, by including him here, someone will be able to give us better details.

George Douglas enlisted on 10 December, 1914, and after only about 3 months training, he left Australia on 25 February, 1915.

"ANZACs in the Making" from The All-Australia Memorial: History, Heroes, and Helpers
a copy can be found in the Australiana Room at Ballarat Library

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