Rail worker lied about age to en­list

The Sunday Times - - ARMISTICE DAY CENTENARY -

ALEXAN­DER LAUGHTON

Great-great-grand­fa­ther of Dakota Tamepo-Kane

A few months af­ter his 17th birth­day,

Alexan­der Laughton found him­self on a ship en route to Egypt. Though he was born in Den­mark in 1898,

Laughton lived al­most his en­tire life in Su­bi­aco.

As a young lad he joined the Mid­land Rail­way Work­shops as an ap­pren­tice moul­der, fol­low­ing in his fa­ther’s foot­steps. In Septem­ber 1915, two months af­ter he turned 17, Laughton en­listed in Perth.

De­spite hav­ing both par­ents’ con­sent, he lied about his age and said he was ex­actly one year older. Ini­tially as­signed to the 28th Bat­tal­ion, he em­barked at Fre­man­tle on the Borda in Jan­uary 1916 and, in Egypt on March 3, was trans­ferred to the 51st Bat­tal­ion.

Laughton sur­vived his first year on the Western Front un­scathed, but was shot in the right hand in June 1917. He was treated in Eng­land and re­joined his unit in December.

Laughton was pro­moted to lance-cor­po­ral in April 1918 and, later that year, he was re­moved to Eng­land suf­fer­ing an un­spec­i­fied ill­ness, which the fam­ily has al­ways be­lieved was from be­ing gassed. He was on fur­lough in Eng­land when the Ar­mistice was signed.

He re­turned to Aus­tralia in April 1919 and re­sumed work­ing with the rail­ways, mar­ry­ing Norna Ed­wards three years later at Perth’s Wes­ley Church. He is re­mem­bered as a true gen­tle­man who, af­ter a life­time of lung prob­lems orig­i­nat­ing in the war, died in 1972 aged 73.

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