No. 1539 Private Albert 'Bert' Heatherton
Albert 'Bert' Heatherton was born around 1891 in Footscray. He enlisted in the AIF at St Kilda on 1 November 1914, aged 25 and was accepted for service in early February 1915.
Before the war, he worked as a stevedore. His younger brother, Arthur Heatherton, had enlisted a few months before.
Albert Heatherton was sent to Broadmeadows Camp for basic training and assigned to the 2nd Reinforcements, 14th Battalion which consisted of recruits mainly from Melbourne and suburbs.
The Battalion embarked from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Clan McGillvray in early February and sailed for Egypt where it was to become part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
Clearly, by the time that Private Heatherton had joined the transports that were to take the troops to Gallipoli, he had already become ill. He survived the voyage and actually landed on the afternoon of April 25, 1915 at Gaba Tepe – later to become known as ANZAC Beach.
He was evacuated the same day and sent back to Alexandria in Egypt. The diagnosis was ‘rheumatism’ – a catch-all phrase of the era that covered a wide range of ailments. More likely, the root cause of his illness was rheumatic fever.
Albert’s medical records showed that he had experienced these attacks since 1910 and that his brief service in the army had aggravated the complaint due to ‘exposure and fatigue’.
He was hospitalised in Cairo and then repatriated to Melbourne in August 1915. The illness was so severe that he was discharged from the army in July the following year.
He died in hospital on 30 August, 1917 aged 26 and is buried at Footscray Cemetery. Sadly, his brother, 596 Private Arthur Heatherton, 7th Battalion AIF, was killed on the first day of the Gallipoli landings. Their mother, Mrs Florence Heatherton, who was living in Coronation Street, Footscray, died on 16 May 1916, aged just 50.
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Lest we forget
Service record: NAA: B2455, Heatherton A B 1539