Ernest William James SLATCHER
Year of Birth: 1891
Place of Birth: Cairns, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 11 March 1915
Date and Place of Embarkation: 29 June 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Ship: HMAT Aeneas A60
Unit(s): 25th Infantry Battalion
Regimental Number: 1579
Died: 29 July 1916
Ernest William Slatcher was born on the 14 August 1891 to William James Slatcher and Amelia Gertrude Morris. Ernest was the eldest of 6 children, Herbert Percival Whittington born 1893, Ralph Bertram Samuel 1895 and died in 1895, Arthur Philip 1897, William Stanley Orr 1899 and Amy Gertrude 1902.
Ernest and his family were living in the Cairns area up until c1905 prior to moving to Boonmoo (just south of Dimbulah) where Ernest’s father was working in the railway as a porter. By 1908 they were in Stannary Hills (south west of Dimbulah) and his father was now a guard. In 1912 while still at Stannary Hills William James had changed his occupation to a miner.
C1913 Ernest William had moved to James Street, Mungo, Boulia and had taken up mining. By 1915 he had moved back to the family in Stannary Hills.
His brothers, Herbert and Arthur joined the army also. Herbert Percival enlisted on the 24 October 1916, 4 months after Ernest’s death. He served in France and was wounded. He returned home safely on the 19 October 1918. Herbert served in the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Forces. Arthur Phillip joined on the 20th January 1917 but was returned home from England on 20 December 1917 with Chronic Bronchitis.
The Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Forces appeared to draw many of the men from the local rifle clubs and Ernest William was a member of the Stannary Hills Rifle Club when he joined the AN&MEF. Ernest William had served 44 days with the 1st Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force prior to his enlistment. Ernest served in the Far North Queensland Kennedy Regiment, known as the Dirty 500. Members of the Dirty 500, including Ernest, landed on Thursday Island on 16 August 1914 from the troopship “Kanowna”, to take part in the capture of German New Guinea. An incident on board the “Kanowna” involving the firemen forced the immediate return of the troops to Townsville on 18 August 1914; Ernest was discharged the same day.
At the time of his enlistment Ernest was residing in Cairns, his age was 23 years 7 months and his occupation was a Labourer. His next of kin was his father Wm Slatcher of Stannary Hills. His height was 5 feet 8 inches, weighed 157 pounds with fair complexion, greyish eyes and light brown hair. He gave his religion as Church of England.
Ernest William James Slatcher was killed in action France on the 29 July 1916 and was buried in the Delville Wood Cemetery, Longuefal.
25th Expeditionary Force Football Team – photo courtesy Australian War Memorial
Cairns Post 11 September 1916, p4
The First Expeditionary Force: the Thursday Island Expedition: a collection of reference documents. Denis Bird, 2015 [CDFHS Library]
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