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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Cpl W J Hughes 15th Bn Australian Infantry

Arthur J

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Hi All,

I am researching the casualties from Armagh, Northern Ireland. Cpl Hughes had emigrated to Australia and joined up in January 1915. On his attesttion form states nine years service in the police, and his trade is shown as labourer.

Looking at the nominal roll for embarkation, his trade is still shown as labourer, but his address is “Police Station South Brisbane, Queensland”

My query is was the police service a protected occupation, hence signing up as a labourer, or was the police station his last address, or being used as a communication address?

Thanks in anticipation


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Hi Arthur.

I don't think being a policeman was a protected occupation. My grandfather, Walter Francis Elliget, was a serving Victorian policeman when he signed up with the AIF in WW1 and served in France with the Anzac Provost Corps, military police. On his return from the war, he resumed his pre-war occupation.

Perhaps William John Hughes literally had been a policeman and was in fact a labourer when he signed up.

From memory, Victorian police service records are held by the PROV (not online). I have my grandfather's and those of some of his brothers, who were also policemen. Interesting reading.



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I think that in relatively remote areas the local police station sometimes served as a post box for intinerant labourers.

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Hi Martin and centurion

Thanks for the replies.


that would make some sense, using the local police station as a communication address, especially if he was a former officer.


It is my understanding at least at the outset of war Police were not protected occupations in the UK, in fact they were welcomed as they were often made NCO's due to their police training, etc. to use a modern phrase, they would have good man management skills. However, I believe it became a protected occupation later, if anyone can confirm it would be another useful little nugget of info. However I was unaware of the situation in Australia, and I just thought it strange that he was a labourer, with nine years police service and also giving the police station as his address. I was tempted to think he gave a wrong occupation so that he could join up.

Being aged 30 on joining, and with years of service it was significant when you read through his papers to find that he was very quickly promoted to corporal on 6 February 1915, just over three weeks after he joined up, and a week before embarkation, sailed from Brisbane on 13 February 1915 on the HMAT Seang Bee (A48). Tragically he was killed just three months later on 3 May 1915, and is recorded on Lone Pine Memorial.

Had a quick look through Walter Elliget records, again interesting.

I must say having being going through your (Australian) NA records I am impressed with the breadth of information available. Well done to your gov't for placing on open access this treasure trove.

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