BAXTER, Duncan

Service Number: 1200
Enlisted: 17 January 1916, Townsville, Queensland
Last Rank: Quartermaster Sergeant
Last Unit: 42nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Glasgow, Scotland, 20 August 1868
Home Town: Townsville, Townsville, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Merchant
Died: Died of wounds, France, 31 March 1917, aged 48 years
Cemetery: Boulogne Eastern Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane 42nd Infantry Battalion AIF Roll of Honour, Townsville Cenotaph
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World War 1 Service

17 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1200, Townsville, Queensland
5 Jun 1916: Involvement 1200, 42nd Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '18' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Borda embarkation_ship_number: A30 public_note: ''
5 Jun 1916: Embarked 1200, 42nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Sydney
31 Mar 1917: Involvement 1200, 42nd Infantry Battalion, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 1200 awm_unit: 42nd Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Quartermaster-Sergeant awm_died_date: 1917-03-31
31 Mar 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Quartermaster Sergeant, 1200, 42nd Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

Duncan Baxter's son was 1308 Private Neil Baxter 15th Battalion, killed in action at the Anzac Landing 26th April, 1915, at the age of 21. He was the son of Duncan and Annie Baxter, of Townsville North, Queensland and had studied at the Gatton Agricultural College. He has no known grave.

1200 Quarter Master Sergeant Duncan Baxter 42nd Battalion, spent most of 1915 finalising his son’s affairs before he himself enlisted later in January 1916. After Neil’s death, his father Duncan wrote to numerous authorities, including the Minister for Defence, requesting confirmation of his son’s death. These letters show his desperation, Neil’s letters were still being returned to him marked Missing, and the lack of certainty was ‘killing his wife and him’. They like many families hoped that ‘Missing’ meant he was in hospital somewhere recovering, or had been taken prisoner of war.

Annie and Duncan Baxter had received a letter from their son Neil, just days after being told of his death; this letter was published in the Townsville Daily Bulletin a few months later. It was not until April 1916, that the AIF ‘officially’ declared Corporal Neil Baxter to have been killed in action.

Enlisting with his second eldest son Angus, Duncan was then 44 years and both men were original member of C Company of the 42nd Battalion. Duncan was an old soldier and had served in the Lanark Royal Engineers from 1890 to 1903, when he left Scotland for Australia. Born in Glasgow he was the father of seven children.

CQMS Duncan Baxter was severely wounded in both feet, during an action that occurred on St Patrick’s Day 1917. In letters received by his wife Annie, prior to and after his wounding, he described how he received the wounds, which cost him his life.

His son Angus had been with him in the same dugout, when they had been bombarded by high explosive shells. Duncan was evacuated to a clearing station, then hospital, but did not survive the severity of his wounds and he died on 31 March 1917, aged 48 years. Although Angus was unable to be with his father at the time of his death, he was able to attend his burial in Boulogne.

Duncan Baxter was described by his company commander, Major Heron, as a man that was “an example of grit and determination, and willingness to do one’s duty cheerfully.” Duncan Baxter is buried in Bologne Eastern Cemetery in France.

His second son 1205 Angus Macdonald Baxter, who enlisted with his father, and left in the same Company of the 42nd Battalion, rose through the ranks during the war, eventually being commissioned as a Lieutenant. Angus applied for and was granted four months leave, to Australia, on half pay. Lieutenant Baxter returned to his family on 6 June 1918.