Alfred William (Alf) BRITTAIN

BRITTAIN, Alfred William

Service Number: 34608
Enlisted: 9 October 1916
Last Rank: Driver
Last Unit: 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column
Born: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 30 September 1888
Home Town: North Arm, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Schooling: Boonah State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Kin Kin, Queensland, Australia, 16 July 1952, aged 63 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Privately Cremated
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World War 1 Service

9 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 34608, 11th Depot Battalion
13 Jan 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Driver, 11th Depot Battalion
21 Jun 1917: Embarked Driver, SN 34608, Field Artillery Brigades, HMAT Suevic, Melbourne
21 Jun 1917: Involvement Driver, SN 34608, Field Artillery Brigades
27 Nov 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 5th Field Artillery Brigade
13 Jan 1919: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column
21 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Driver, SN 34608, 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column

Help us honour Alfred William Brittain's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Sue Smith

Alfred William Brittain, Alf, was born on 30th September 1888 in Brisbane QLD, the eldest of 2 sons and the 3rd eldest of 5 children born to his parents William and Ellen Brittain.  His younger brother was Percy with 2 older sisters, Florence and Caroline and a younger sister Eveline.  Alf’’s education  took place at Boonah State School after which he became a farmer. 

In 1906 when Alf was 18, the family moved to a farm named “Scotspur” at Valdora QLD where he became a member of the local North Arm Rifle Club.  When WW1 broke out Alf enlisted in the AIF on 9th October 1916 aged 28.  His rank was a Private, his service number 34608 and he was assigned to the 11th Depot Battalion.  He’s described as being 5ft 8ins tall with blue eyes, fair hair and medium complexion.  On 10th November 1916 Alf proceeded to the training camp at Enoggera to the 11th Depot Battalion who were camped in Thompson’s Paddock. 

New Year’s Day 1917 began with an extra special celebration when Alf married Janet Muir Wardlaw on this day. 

Just 12 days later Alf was promoted to Driver and posted to “A” Depot Section then a month later to Field Artillery Reinforcements.  Alf embarked from Melbourne on 21st June 1917 on HMAT Suevic and disembarked at Liverpool, England, on 26th August 1917.  He proceeded to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery at Larkhill Camp on the Salisbury Plain and then to the RBAA training camp at Heytesbury. 

After completing his training he embarked for France from Southampton on 17th November 1917.  Upon arrival in France the following day, he proceeded to the Australian General Base Depot (AGBD) at Rouelles.  A week later he was posted to the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC) and then transferred to the 5th Field Artillery Brigade being assigned to the 105th Battery which specialised in the 4.5inch Howitzer gun.  Alf’s brother Percy also served with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade in WW1.

Twelve months later he took 2 weeks leave to England and a few days after his return was admitted to hospital with influenza.  In early December he was transferred to the British 3rd Stationary Hospital at Rouen then transferred to the 2nd Convalescent Depot at Rouen a few days later.  He then proceeded to the AGBD at Harfleur. 

On 13th January 1919 Alf was transferred to the 2nd DAC then in April he took 2 weeks leave to Paris.  A few days after re-joining his Unit he marched out with Quota 44 to England for return to Australia.  Upon arrival in England he proceeded to the agricultural training depot at Sutton Veny where soldiers were prepared and trained for their return to civilian life. 

On 1st July 1919 Alf embarked from England for Australia on the HMAT Frankfurt and disembarked in Melbourne on 29th August 1919. 

Upon his arrival back in Queensland he joined his wife Janet back on the farm at Valdora.  There they raised 6 children...Marion, Bruce, Ralph, Lenard and twins Robert and Christina.  In the years at Valdora Alf was very involved in the community being Vice President of both, the North Arm Cricket Club and the North Arm Football Club for several years.  He played tennis for the North Arm Tennis Club and was President of the School Committee for a number of years.  He was President of the Cane Growers Association and a prime mover in getting the tram line laid to various properties.  He was also instrumental in getting the first road from Doonan to North Arm. 

In April 1942 the family moved from Valdora to a property at Kin Kin named “Ellen Teen”.  The residents of the Valdora, North Arm and surrounding districts gave them a farewell at the Valdora Hall.  During the speeches it was stated that Alf was the oldest resident in the district.  A representative of the school committee said that Alf had always done his best for the welfare of the pupils and the improvement of the school grounds.  Another resident stated that when he came to the district the roads were in a bad state and that Alf was always the first one to turn out with a working bee to improve the road conditions and also placed his motor lorry at the disposal of the working gang.  The local Councillor presented Alf and Janet with a gift on behalf of the residents and said that the community very much regretted losing a family with such sterling qualities. 

Just 16 months after moving to Kin Kin tragedy struck with the death of Janet on 9th October 1943 just a week shy of her 54th birthday.  Alf remained on the farm at Kin Kin for a period of time then moved to a farm at Cedarton north of Woodford QLD.  He remained there until his death on 16th July 1952 aged 63.  His cremation service was held in the chapel at the Mt Thompson Crematorium and his Cremation Memorial is found beside his wife Janet’s in Area 1, Bed 3, Bed No. 2 at the Mt Thompson Crematorium Memorial Gardens. 

Alf is commemorated on the Maroochy Shire Honour Roll, Yandina/Maroochy River/North Arm Roll of Honour and the North Arm Roll of Honour Board.

Alfred William Brittain was awarded for service in WW1 the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Respectfully submitted by Sue Smith 25th May 2022.