The John Oxley Library has recently digitised photographs and letters relating to Private Alfred Powell of the 26th Infantry Battalion. Alfred was an 18 year-old labourer, living in Brisbane at Scott’s Boarding House in George Street, when he enlisted on the 1st April 1915. He gave his next of kin as his father, W. Powell, living in Newtown, Herefordshire, England. Alfred was born in Herefordshire in 1896 and must have emigrated to Australia sometime before 1915.
Alfred embarked from Brisbane on the troopship HMAT A11 Ascanius on the 24th May 1915 as part of A Company, 26th Battalion. He landed at Gallipoli in early September, but on the 29th November, just before the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula, he suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his face and left leg. He was treated at the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred to the 19th General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was described as being “dangerously ill”. On the 13th December he was removed from the dangerously ill list and was sent back to Australia as medically unfit on the 20th January 1916 on the troopship Karoola. In Brisbane he was admitted to the Kangaroo Point Military Hospital for further recuperation and was discharged on the 9th August 1916.
After the war Alfred took up farming at Gilston in the Gold Coast Hinterland, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1924 he married Evelyn Theresa Friske and had two sons and one daughter. In 1932 Alfred was seriously injured in an explosion when he was blowing up stumps on his property. His right hand was shattered and he was also injured about the face and scalp.
Fortunately Alfred recovered from this accident and went on to lead a long life. He died in 1979 at the age of 83.
The Alfred Powell collection comprises four photographs and two letters which were written by Alfred to his mother in England. The first letter written on the 15th November 1915 describes conditions in Gallipoli and was written two weeks before Alfred was injured.
We are very grateful to the family for lending this wonderful World War I collection to the State Library of Queensland for digitisation. The Alfred Powell Papers (Accession 29895) may be viewed at: http://onesearch.slq.qld.gov.au/SLQ:OM:slq_alma21153295100002061
Lynn Meyers, QANZAC100 Content Curator