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Downing W G   Pte  870

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 9 years, 8 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


Downing W G   Pte  870    William George             39 Inf Bn    37    Grocer    Single    C of E        

Address:    Essendon, Braemar St, “Kiltie”    

Next of Kin:    Downing, William, father, 11 Athol St, Moonee Ponds    

Enlisted:    31 Jan 1916        

Embarked:     A11 Ascanius 27 May 1916    


Relatives on Active Service:

Downing E W Capt  brother




From Essendon and Flemington comes the news that W. G. Downing, W. Finn, and S. Dagleish have entered the ranks of Australia's army. Mr Clifton Wilson, the writer of the rifle notes in this paper, has also enlisted. Good luck to them all,


RIFLEMEN FOR THE EMPIRE. (1916, March 8). Winner (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1917), p. 5. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154557068


The following letter was received from Salisbury Plains, England, written by W. G. Downing:


Dear Members Flemington A.N.A.

I am still alive and settled once again upon land after a trip of 53 days on water which, although it had its drawbacks in many ways, was well paid for by our trip across the South of England. I expect you have already had a description of our trip on the boat. I had a bad time cross ing the Australian Bight. I was about as sick as anybody on board, and it lasted for seven days, during which I was worth very little, as Ray Powell could tell you. However, I believe it has done me good, as I am now in the pink of condition and weighing 11st 7lbs.


After leaving Melbourne, the next land we saw was South Africa, and to anybody who has not visited Cape Town I would say they have missed something. Particularly would I recommend to all those opposed to a White Australia the necessity of visiting these black population places. There you see the folly of mixed race offspring. The majority of the Blacks are dirty, ragged, and infernally cheeky, and know as much as any white man when it comes to taking the other fellow down. We had several trips through the city, and these fellows would follow us for miles, always on the off chance of the boys throwing them something. During one of our trips which took us up part of Table Top Mountain, we saw the late Cecil Rhodes' residence, and I had the pleasure of getting a cup of tea, as we camped just outside the grounds for lunch. Some of the scenery during this trip was remarkable. My one regret was that I did not have the forethought to take a camera with me. The statue erected to the memory of Rhodes was one of those things once seen always re membered. The only other port we called at was Cape Verde, and here again the nigger race predominated. They used to come out to our ship in rowing boats sometimes containing six, and put in the day selling to the boys such things as fruit (green), eggs (bad), cocoanuts, cigarettes, etc. The youngsters here did a thriving business diving for coins once again supplied by the Australians. The last week of our trip had its remembrances. Everybody on board was prepared for submarine, it being compulsory for every man to wear his lifebelt and many a curse they got. However, we got to our journey's end succesofully. We were escorted our final lap by four destroyers, arriving at Plymouth on July 18th, at 10.25 am.


We then steamed up to Davenport; and after disembarking were, entrained for Salisbury, and if anyone had any doubts as to whether the Old Country of England was worth fighting for, those doubts would have been de stroyed. I have often listened to tales of the beauties of England, but one has to see them to appreciate them. However, I assure you all I am perfectly satisfied that I have thrown in my lot with the boys to help keep the old flag flying. As you will see by address, we are locat ed at the famous Salisbury Plains, and it was an eye-opener to all of us. The extent of the camp is roughly 30 square miles, and it is all set out into separate camps, each one having its own conveniences and parade grounds. Our training here is going to be pretty severe, as we have quite a lot to learn, and we expect to go into action before Xmas. I have not seen Ray Powell or Percy since we landed, but expect they are all correct. Our first Australian mail arrived on Saturday, and the only link with Australia I got was the May copy of "Advance Australia." and it proved very acceptable On Sunday evening several of us took a trip out to the famous Village Black smith's, and saw the chestnut tree that we all learnt about in our schooldays. Some of the scenery on the way was re markable, the quaint old houses, with their thatched roofs, etc. making a very pretty scene in many cases. Trusting that No. 69 are keeping up their reputation as in the past, and hop ing all old friends are enjoying good health, and that the occasion of our reunion will be brought about before many more months by the downfall of the German nation and the strengthening of civilised and righteous living nations through out the world, for which the English race is it present paying a very heavy toll. 


SOLDIERS' LETTERS. (1916, October 19). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 5 Edition: Morning.. Retrieved March 4, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74594459




War Service Commemorated

Flemington Branch Australian Natives Association (ANA)

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour Wounded

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