If you are researching your World War I veteran ancestors don’t neglect Repatriation files.
WWI stories aren’t confined to those servicemen who didn’t return. Nor are they confined to those servicemen who were granted land under the Closer Settlement Scheme.
Stories about World War I veterans can also be found in Repatriation files held by the National Archives of Australia.
My great Uncle Lou’s repatriation files contain stories I was unaware of as a child. More generally, though, the repatriation files build on the stories found in the Army personal files which can be accessed by doing a Name Search in the National Archives for Australia search collection area.
You may have missed considering the repatriation files as they have yet to be included in the NAA’s online catalogue. Order them by making a general request about the collection. I included the following information in my request:
Service No: 3434
Name: Louis Aaron Holmes
Date of death: 7 Dec 1960 Victoria
His widow’s date of death: 11 Dec 1960 Victoria
Image 7 in Series B2455 indicates that Louis’s service records were sent to the Department of Repatriation in 1932
My request was successful.
I received two files in the series B73 [Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation, Victoria; Personal case files, World War I]: Uncle Lou’s medical records and his hospital records.
These files in general show a glimpse of Louis’s life on his return to Australia through his interaction with the Repatriation bureaucracy and the development of medicine over the span of his life.
For example, in the pre penicillin world, his syphilis was treated with the arsenic based Kharsivan and simultaneously with mercury. Fortunately the one course was sufficient! More unfortunate, Uncle Lou returned to sea after the war on the Commonwealth owned Australford only to fall from the mast shortly after his marriage to my Auntie Ev. Lou spent four months in Melbourne Hospital with a fractured skull and a broken pelvis. This injury, not directly attributable to his war service, led to a reduction in his war pension for most of his life. No longer able to work at sea Uncle Lou went to work for the Victorian Railways. First as an engine driver. This I do remember being told as a child but Uncle Lou only drove trains for a year before it became impossible because of his many injuries.
In addition to the wealth of information contained in these Repatriation records I also have Uncle Lou’s accident aboard the Australford, his time in the Melbourne Hospital and his employment with the Victorian Railways to pursue.
Where, in all this, did a sailor working out of Melbourne meet a Warrnambool girl?