Rail worker lied about age to enlist
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.