To commemorate 100 years since the Armistice, we would like to introduce you to 100 members of Caulfield RSL over the next 100 days
William Major Simmons
There are lots of stories about sixteen-year-old lads that fought in WW1, but not so many that got caught before they could get to the front.
Our William was 16 going on 17 from Moonee Ponds. He enlisted in Charters Towers in Queensland using the name John Edward Walton, aged 19 years 2 months in November 1917. Why he was in Queensland is not known.
He said that he had 3 years in Senior cadets in Victoria before so he was quickly signed up and allocated to the 26 Battalion, sailing in March to Egypt. He appears to have been good as a soldier as he was promoted to Corporal on the ship.
However, he made the mistake of giving his Next of Kin as his “uncle”, who was, in fact, his father. Then his mother found out and sent a Statutory Declaration to the Army that he was only 17 and not eligible to enlist. So, no sooner has he arrived at Suez on the 4 April to join his Regiment when a telegram arrives on the 11 and he is pulled out of the unit and on the 19 May he is put back on a transport back to Melbourne and discharged in July.
At least he got to see the Pyramids, and for his time in the Army he was awarded the British War medal which made him eligible to be a member at Caulfield.