Alister Bailey GRIMES

GRIMES, Alister Bailey

Service Number: 8669
Enlisted: 21 September 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 1st Motor Transport Company
Born: "Tarragindi," South Brisbane, Queensland, 16 December 1890
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Brisbane Grammar School
Occupation: University student
Died: Natural causes, Toowoomba, Queensland, 17 November 1964, aged 73 years
Cemetery: Taabinga Lawn Cemetery, Kingaroy, Qld
Memorials: Annerley Stephens Shire Council Residents Honour Board 1, Boondooma Homestead Memorial Plaques, East Brisbane War Memorial, St Lucia King's College WWI Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

21 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 8669, 7th Field Ambulance, Brisbane, Queensland
3 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 8669, 7th Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
3 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 8669, 7th Field Ambulance, HMAT Kyarra, Brisbane
6 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 1st Field Ambulance
31 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Driver, 7th Field Ambulance
23 Dec 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 1st Division Supply Column
17 Mar 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 1st Motor Transport Company
2 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Driver, 8669, 1st Motor Transport Company

Help us honour Alister Bailey Grimes's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sue Smith

Alister Bailey Grimes was born on the 16th December 1890, the eldest son and child of William and Marie Grimes.  He was born at the family property called “Tarragindi” in Cracknell road, South Brisbane, Queensland.  The property was named after a kanaka who had endeared himself to the family and was employed by Alfred Foote, a relative of Alister’s father.  Alister had 3 younger siblings, Marjorie, Benjamin and Kathleen.

In July 1908, at the age of 17, Alister travelled with his family to Canada on the ship “Mirama” embarking from Sydney.  Alister was as a foundry apprentice for 2 years after spending his schooling years at the Brisbane Grammar School where he represented the school in rowing.  He matriculated in 1911 then pursued an Engineering degree at the Queensland University commencing in 1912.  In November that year his mother died.

In March 1913 Alister became one of the foundation resident students at King’s College, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, while attending the University.  He played football for the College and his team were the winners of the first University Inter-College contest in 1913.  That same year he won the 100 metres race at the Annual University sports day.  He also represented both the College and the University in rowing.  In 1914, with Alister as the cox, the King’s College rowing team won the first inter-college race against St John’s and Emmanuel Colleges.  The following year, as the cox of the University rowing team, Alister participated in the Queensland Rowing Association Regatta.  

Throughout 1915 many of Alister’s fellow students from King’s College enlisted for the war….my grandfather, Cyril Morsley (SN 1707), was one of them.  His close friend and tutor from King’s College, Arthur Wheatley (SN 1706), enlisted on the same day as Cyril and both were posted to the 3rd Field Ambulance.  Cyril started writing a diary on the 3rd August 1915, the day he commenced training at the Enoggera Barracks.  Alister is mentioned in his diary.

On the 21st September 1915, Alister enlisted for the war at Brisbane with the rank of Private and his service number being 8669.  On his service records he was described as being 5ft 3ins tall with a fair complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.  After completing his training at the Enoggera Barracks he was posted to the 7th Field Ambulance, 8th Reinforcements and embarked from Brisbane on the 3rd January 1916 on the ship “Kyarra”.              

He disembarked at Alexandria, Egypt, on the 9th February and proceeded to the Zeitoun Camp.  A month later he joined the 1st Division Miscellaneous Reinforcements at Ismailia transferring to the 1st Field Ambulance at Serapeum.  On the 23rd March he embarked from Alexandria on the ship “Simla”, disembarking a week later at Marseilles, France.  Three days later the ship “Simla” was torpedoed and sunk.

An entry in my grandfather’s 1916 diary states that a few days after arriving in France, he and Arthur Wheatley met up with Alister and two other enlisted men from King’s College at a YMCA meeting...Roger Percy (SN 8673) serving with the 7th Field Ambulance and Leonard Foote (SN 573) serving with the 3rd Field Ambulance.

In May 1916 Alister was promtoed to a mechanical transport driver then 2 days before Christmas was transferred to the 1st Australian Division Supply Column and attached to the 1st Field Ambulance for duty.  Three months later in March 1917 he was moved to the “K” Supply Column then in mid July he took leave for a fortnight.  In early December Alister was charged with having committed the offence of leaving an ambulance unattended and ordered to forfeit a day’s pay.

The start of 1919 began on a brighter note with Alister taking leave in March for 10 days to Paris.  Upon his return he was transferred to the 1st Australian Division Mechanical Transport Company.  In mid September 1918 he took 2 weeks leave to England.

At the end of January 1919 Alister proceeded to the A.G.B.D. (Australian General Base Depot).  Two weeks later he proceeded from Harve to England for return to Australia.  After disembarking at Southampton he marched to the 1st Training Brigade Camp at Perkham Down.  A fortnight later on the 25th February 1919, Alister embarked from Liverpool for Australia on the ship “Balmoral Castle” arriving in Brisbane on the 18th April 1919, a week before Anzac Day.   He was discharged 6 weeks later on the 2nd June.

Upon his return to Australia Alister decided not to continue with his engineering degree but instead bought a Queensland cattle property at Proston, NW of Kingaroy, called “Corrunovan”.  This was the start of his life long career as a grazier on this property and the beginning of a family business that continues today, almost 100 years later.   The beginning of that family business commenced in earnest on the 14th July 1926 when 35 year old Alister married 24 year old Mary Gwenda Roberts at her parent’s home, “Karenza”, in Sussex Street Maryborough, Queensland.  Alister and Mary went on to have 5 sons and a daughter….Gerald, Robert, James, Richard, Ken and Ada.  Gerald ran “Corrunovan” for 61 years till his death in 2015 leaving his son Richard to take over the reins.

Alister died at Toowoomba on the 17th November 1964, aged 73.  The family had barely had time to grieve the loss of Alister when Mary died just 2 months later on the 12th January 1965 aged 62.  Alister made such an impression over his 40 or so years in the Proston area that the locals named a bridge after him.  The ”A B Grimes” bridge is located in Manar Road, Boondooma and is undergoing an upgrade at present.

An Honour Board at King’s College, Brisbane, bears the names of the 30 men from the College who served in WW1.  It was unveiled on the 25th March 1916 at which time 20 of the 23 students enrolled at the College had already enlisted.  Three of those 30 men made the supreme sacrifice with their lives - Arthur Wheatley was one of them.

On the 11th August 1917 at Mowbray Park, East Brisbane, the earliest World War 1 Memorial in Brisbane was unveiled honouring all those who served in WW1.  The Memorial and the Park are now heritage listed.  The Memorial consists of a stone “Digger” statue, representing an Australian Light Horseman, sitting upon a stone pillar bearing a Roll of Honour of names and it is flanked by two cannons.  The inscription on the front of the Memorial reads “In Honour Of The Living & Glory Of The Dead” 1914 The Great War 1919.  Over 700 names are inscribed on it, amongst them are many of the thirty names from the King’s College Honour Board, including Alister’s.          

Alister Bailey Grimes was awarded:

British War Medal    10011

Victory Medal           9865


Sue Smith September 2016