Feature

Three Munsie men left Ballina for WWI - only one returned

Robert Hampton Brand Munsie, killed France, 1918
Robert Hampton Brand Munsie, killed France, 1918

AT LEAST three Ballina district men with the surname of Munsie enlisted in the First World War.

Looking quickly at the official records, however, could cause some confusion. This is especially so because two of them had the same forenames, Alexander Welsh!

Alexander Welsh Munsie, no.3678, was born in the Richmond River District (possibly Wardell) in 1890, the son of John and Christina Munsie (nee Felsch).

He enlisted in Brisbane on June 29, 1917 giving his age as 27. He was a labourer, married to Mrs Mary Elizabeth Munsie (nee O'Neill), Catholic, and his address was given as Maroochy River, via Yandina, North Coast Line, Queensland.

He had three children, the eldest was a boy, Alexander, aged four years.

Unfortunately, he was killed in action in France on October 3, 1918 and his body was unlikely recovered or identified as he is simply listed on the Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France, with many other Australians.

At the time he was attached to the 25th Infantry Battalion, but previously he had been attached to the 49th Battalion.

His wife had died after he enlisted, perhaps after he had left Australia, as his mother, Mrs Christina Munsie of "Wardell", Moore St, Campsie is later listed as guardian of his children.

Although he is one of our local soldiers, his place of association is listed in the Roll of Honour as Yandina, as that was his address on enlistment.

In trying to find local veterans, especially those who died, it should be remembered that the place of association is often misleading.

The other Alexander Welsh Munsie, no.14850, was born in Woodburn in 1893, the son of Alexander Welsh and Hannah R. Munsie (nee Gray).

He enlisted in Perth on August 25, 1916 giving his age as 23.

He was a baker, married to Florence Mabel Munsie, and it would seem that he had been married in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no Embarkation Record for this soldier, possibly there was some confusion due to the two men with identical christian names.

There is, however, a record of his returning to Australia. He apparently came back with the 6th Field Artillery Battery on December 20, 1918.

We assume he returned to his wife Florence in Western Australia.

The third soldier of this family was Robert Hampton Brand Munsie, no.5016, born in Woodburn in 1894 to Robert and Mary Cecilia Munsie (nee Gray).

It would seem that his mother and Hannah, mother of Alexander above, may have been sisters.

Robert enlisted at Liverpool on November 29, 1915. He was a carter, single, Presbyterian, and his address was given as Tamar St, Ballina.

His father had died in 1909 and his mother had married Frederick Paullett at Ballina in 1915.

Most of his family remained in the area including a sister, Muriel, who had married Harold Cravigan of Woodburn in 1912.

On July 18, 1918 Robert was killed in France. As with his relation above there is only a memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France, not a burial.

Many of our local soldiers died in the Villers-Bretonneux area.

Some are buried there but most appear only as a name on the huge memorial.

Topics:  history world war 1



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