When you find a photo among a collection you receive from your Aunt, and because you are interested in the family’s history, your curiosity can’t help but get the better of you. More particularly, a photo that had a handwritten note on the back from a person you have never heard of before!
“To Miss Eliza Brown (my grandmother) Tuncurry,
wishing you the best of success and all sorts of good things in this world from
Private W. Alway, 35 Battalion D Company, No. 1059, No 9th Brigade, Newcastle.
Will be leaving on the first of May for the unknown.”
My curiosity aroused, I started my research, and these are the results of my findings.
Willie was born to Rosina Levenia Nixon in 1893 at Kogarah, NSW. From his birth registration his father was unnamed.2 His mother Rosina married Edwin Wilberforce Alway in 1894.3 Willie had four siblings – Henry Edwin, Ivy Rose, Harold James and Cecil Milton Alway.4
Willie enlisted in the military at Newcastle on 7 January 1916 aged 22 years and was assigned to the 35th Battalion, his address was Bulahdelah. This was later changed to C/- Jones Island Post Office, with next of kin being his father E W Alway.5
Willie embarked from Sydney on board the ‘Benalla’ on 1 May 1916, arriving in Plymouth on 9 July 1916. There would have been training camps before departing Sydney and also on arrival in Britain.
On 21 November 1916 Willie proceeded overseas to France where he transferred to the 9th Machine Gun Company in the field. Little is known of his field movements until he was killed in action on 8 June 1917 in Belgium.6
I write this story knowing that my grandmother married Robert Nixon Everingham on 15 August 1917. Could there have been a different result if Willie had lived?
Author: Wal Horsburgh
1 Photo held by Wal Horsburgh.
2 NSW BDM, Birth Index, Willie Nixon, No. 18838/1893.
3 NSW BDM, Marriage Index Edwin Alway and Rosina L Nixon, No. 6683/1894.
4 NSW BDM, Henry No. 27056/1895, Cecil No. 40826/1908, Ivy No. 7522/1897, Harold No. 34922/1899.
5 NAA: B2455, ALWAY W.