Albert Victor HOUGHTON

HOUGHTON, Albert Victor

Service Number: 1924
Enlisted: 8 January 1916, Brisbane, Qld.
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 41st Infantry Battalion
Born: North Pine, Queensland, Australia, 12 June 1893
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: North Pine State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 8 August 1918, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Heath Cemetery, Picardie
IV H 18,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane 41st Battalion Roll of Honour, Kallangur Pine Rivers Memorial Gates, Petrie North Pine Presbyterian Church Roll of Honor, Strathpine District Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

8 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1924, 49th Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Qld.
1 May 1916: Involvement Private, 1924, 49th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '19' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Clan McGillivray embarkation_ship_number: A46 public_note: ''
1 May 1916: Embarked Private, 1924, 49th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Clan McGillivray, Brisbane
8 Aug 1918: Involvement Private, 1924, 41st Infantry Battalion, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 1924 awm_unit: 41st Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1918-08-08

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Biography contributed by Ian Lang

HOUGHTON Albert Victor (Vic)  #1924    49th/ 41st Battalion


Albert Houghton probably went by the name of Victor or Vic as he is listed on the Pine Rivers Roll with the initial V. Vic was born at North Pine (Petrie) to Herbert and Sarah Houghton and attended North Pine State School. By the time of his enlistment, his father was deceased and his mother had remarried, and was then Sarah Payne.

Vic enlisted in Brisbane on 8th January 1916. He gave his age as 22 years and 6 months and stated his occupation as labourer. After spending the usual period at Enoggera in a depot battalion, Vic was allocated to the 3rd reinforcements of the 49th Battalion.


On 1st May 1916, Vic boarded the “Clan McGillivray” but only went as far as Sydney before transferring to the “Megantic” for the trip to Egypt. He had allotted 3/- of his pay to his mother. Arriving in Egypt in June 1916, the bulk of the AIF had already departed for the Western Front. In August of 1916, while the battles of the Somme raged, Vic arrived in Southampton. The 49th Battalion, for which Vic was a reinforcement, was already at the front as part of the 4th Division. Vic was transferred to the 41st Battalion, part of the 3rd Division which was still in training at Larkhill.


In November 1916, the entire 3rd Division under John Monash joined the rest of the Australian Divisions in France. In spite of their intensive training, most of the men of the division had never experienced action and Monash was determined that his fighting force would be gradually acclimatised to the rigours of trench warfare before any major assault. The 11th Brigade would find itself rotating in and out of the line in the vicinity of Ploegsteert Wood (usually referred to as Plug Street), and engaging in limited trench raiding. While manning the trenches in the Armentieres sector on 14th April 1917, Vic sustained a gunshot wound to his right ankle during a German trench raid.


After progressing through a number of medical units in France, Vic was admitted to the Military Hospital in Eastbourne on the English South Coast. His mother was advised of his wound by telegram. After discharge from hospital and a two week furlough, Vic reported to the Convalescent Depot at Perham Downs on 4th June 1917. While convalescing, Vic signed an unusual document stating that he did not wish to make a will. It is hard to imagine the reason for this and the consequences for his mother were considerable when it came to winding up his estate when he died intestate.


In July, Vic was passed fit to join his unit. He marched into the 41st lines on 27th July. The opening of the campaign in Belgian Flanders has begun on 7th June at Messines. Brigades from the 3rd Division were holding the line between Messines and Warneton. Only ten days after re-joining his battalion, Vic went sick with trench fever. He was out of the line for a week. For the rest of 1917, Vic and the 41st played supporting roles at Menin Road and Broodseinde Ridge. The Flanders campaign got bogged down in the mud at Passchendaele and the front was closed down for the winter. All of the Australian divisions rotated in and out of the line with long breaks for training, rest and reinforcement. On 20th February, with things still quiet on the Western Front, Vic was granted two week’s leave in England.


In March of 1918, the German Commander Ludendorff, launched a huge spring offensive in the Somme valley in France. This was a calculated gamble. Ludendorff’s window of opportunity was short as it was estimated that General Pershing’s huge American Army, which was slowly assembling in France, would be able to tip the balance in favour of the allied powers by the end of 1918.


Operation Michael saw large numbers of German storm troops pour westward from the Hindenburg Line across the old Somme battlefields of 1916. The British 5th Army under General Gough broke and there was real danger that if the Germans could take the strategic rail junction at Amiens, they would win the war.


In attempt to halt the German advance, Haig rushed the available Australian divisions back to the Somme where on 25th April 1918, units of the 4th and 5th Divisions halted the Germans at Villers Bretonneux. Ludendorff’s troops would go no further. The German advance had been halted but the Germans were far from beaten. The 3rd Division arrived to take up the line in front of Amiens where they continued to harass the enemy with bold patrolling and raids.


The first offensive manoeuvre was planned by Monash, the newly appointed Australian Corps Commander, to take place at Hamel, just to the north of Villers Brettoneux. The 41st Battalion was part of the second wave of troops who gained their objective within 93 minutes; Monash had planned it would take 90 minutes. Hamel, though only a limited engagement on a narrow front became the model for much greater battles.


Monash’s next move was on a far grander scale, while still employing his trademark meticulous planning, employment of modern equipment such as tanks, and the use of surprise. The battle of Amiens began at 4:20 am on 8th August 1918. The entire Australian Corps of five divisions as well as the Canadian Corps and elements of Rawlinson’s 3rd Army attacked across a wide front. The result was spectacular with an advance of over 7 miles into open country. In the ensuing days, the advance continued on both banks of the Somme.


Sometime on the 8th August, Vic Houghton was killed. He was buried on the battlefield in an isolated but well-marked grave. At the end of hostilities, Vic’s remains were reinterred in the Heath Cemetery near Harbonnieres. His mother received a parcel containing an identity disc, photos and letters, a wallet and a broken fountain pen. Vic’s file contains numerous letters from his mother enquiring about a will (see above) or advising of a change of address. A photograph of Vic Houghton, probably donated by his mother, is held in the Australian War Memorial Collection.


Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Albert's parents were Herbert Henry Houghton and Sarah Ann Blasdall. The Houghton family was a well-known family of the district. Albert was working as a labourer when he enlisted 8 January 1916 at Brisbane. He was killed in action aged 25 on 8 August 1918 in Hamel Somme France. His older brother William [3445] enlisted returning home to Australia and his cousin Vivian [799] enlisted and returned home.