No.2143 Private John Alexander Cameron
[a.k.a. Jack or Mick]
John Alexander (Jack) Cameron was born in 1891 to Alexander John Cameron and Agnes Spitty. When he enlisted in the A.I.F. he gave his place of birth as Laverton, but his birth was registered at Cranbourne in Victoria. His parents had married at Lovely Banks (near Geelong) in Victoria in 1890.
The eleven children of Alexander and Agnes Cameron were:
- John Alexander (Jack) or (Mick) Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1891 (A.I.F. No.2143 & 6775A)
- Catherine May (Kit) Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1893
- Alexander Ronald (Alex) or (Mick) Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1895 (A.I.F. No. 58)
- William Duncan Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1896 (A.I.F. No.583)
- Isabella Annie (Bella) Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1898
- Archibald Gordon Cameron - born Cranbourne in 1900 (WW2 No. V354098)
- Agnes Cameron - born at Hastings Tyabb in 1903
- Charles "Charlie" Cameron - born Hastings in 1906
- Margaret Mary Cameron - born Werribee in 1907
- Jessie Sabine Cameron - born Werribee in 1909
- James Allan McDonald (Mac) Cameron - born Werribee in 1912 (WW2–Navy)
- Flor Emily - born Werribee in 1914
After leaving school Jack Cameron remained at Laverton, and lived with his parents. Until he enlisted in the A.I.F., he worked locally as a labourer on a farm.
On his first enlistment form to join the A.I.F., Jack stated that he had previously been rejected for military service because of the condition of his teeth. He must have received treatment for this problem, as at the age of 23 years and 10 months, Jack Cameron was accepted. He swore his Oath at Melbourne on 17 July 1915 and went to the Military Training Camp at Broadmeadows. After completing his basic training on 10 September 1915, he was appointed as a Private with the 4th Reinforcements, 21st Battalion.
Private J A Cameron embarked from Melbourne on 27 September 1915 per Hororata, even though his name is not recorded on the Embarkation Roll.
At the age of 24 years and 1 month, Jack Cameron completed a second Attestation Form, while at sea, on 21 October 1915. He was declared fit for active service on 3 October 1915, while on the Troopship HMAT Hororata A20.
The Hororata had sailed ex Melbourne on 27 September 1915.
After arriving in Egypt, Private Cameron was taken on strength with 21st Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir on 14 February 1916. One month later, on 20 March 1916, he was admitted to the 3rd Auxillary Hospital at Heliopolis with mild ear trouble.
His ear problem persisted, and on 8 April 1916, his case was subject to a Medical Board which was held at No 3 Auxiliary Hospital in Cairo. It determined that the original cause of his ear injury was a case of measles nine years earlier. He had no further trouble until six months ago, when his ear began discharging. It was further determined that his existing condition had been aggravated by Military Service, and it was recommended that he be discharged in Australia, as permanently unfit.
While still in hospital, on 20 April 1916, Private Cameron suffered with a case of chronic diarrhoea. This required that he be transferred to the No 1 Auxiliary Hospital in Cairo.
On 11 June 1916, Private Cameron of the 21st Battalion embarked at Suez, and was invalided back to Australia per HMAT Itonus A50, suffering with chronic ottorhoea (ear disorder). His ship was due back in Melbourne on 12 July 1916.
A report of his return home appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner in 1917. It was mentioned in a letter to the editor that Private Jack Cameron "...was welcomed home at a public function in by Cr. Maher, and that same genial "Jack" responded in a way that raised the "house" to a pitch of admiration..."
Werribee Shire Banner, 11 October 1917, p.3.
Private Cameron was discharged from the 3rd Military District on 9 October 1916, still suffering with his ear problem.
Jack Cameron was committed to the cause of the war, and was able to re-enlist at Melbourne, two months later, on 11 December 1916. He was first sent to the Recruit Depot at Royal Park in Melbourne, and then served at the Military Camp at Langwarrin between 1 January 1917 and 16 May 1917.
Staying in Victoria, Jack Cameron was then based at the Recruit Depot in Broadmeadows until 15 August 1917, when he was transferred to the 20th Reinforcements of the 22 Battalion.
During his stay at Broadmeadows, Jack Cameron married his sweetheart. The Marriage Notice of Eva King and Lance Corporal John Alexander Cameron was published in the Murchison Advertiser, 24 August 1917, p.2.
A report on the wedding also appeared in the Murchison Advertiser, 24 August 1917, p.2. The couple married in the Methodist Parsonage at Hawthorn on 4 August 1917. Later, John and Eva had at least two children:
- Ivan Alexander Cameron - born in Rushworth 1918
- Elena Agnes Cameron - born in Werribee in 1919
After a delay of three months, Private Cameron embarked from Melbourne per HMAT Nestor A71. His ship sailed for Egypt on 21 November 1917, and they disembarked at Suez on 15 December 1917, before spending Christmas in the desert.
On 9 January 1918, the reinforcements embarked at Port Said per RMS Kashgar. Once on board, Private Cameron was appointed as a Voyage Only (V.O.) Corporal until he disembarked in England.
Like most convoys, they sailed north west across the Mediterranean and disembarked at the Port of Taranto in southern Italy on 20 January 1918. For the next leg they embarked per S.S. Mona's Queen (II) on 31 January 1918, and arrived at Southampton in England on 2 February 1918.
After disembarking at Southampton on 2 February 1918, the 20th Reinforcements / 22nd Battalion marched in to the 6th Training Battalion at Fovant. Jack Cameron was then appointed to the rank of Acting Lance Corporal.
The 22nd Battalion Reinforcements remained in England and undertook more training until 22 April 1918 when they proceeded to France, via Folkstone. At this time, he had the suffix "A" added to his military number, because of a duplication.
On 3 May 1918, Jack Cameron was Taken On Strength with the 22 Battalion who were at Querrieu. They had just come out of the Front Line, and were about to move to Villers-Bretonneaux. One week later, the Battalion went into the Front Line at Mericourt to relieve the 39th Battalion. After six days they were relieved by the 21st Battalion, and rested at Ribemont.
On 19 May 1918, the Battalion took part of a planned attack on the enemy lines at Ville-Surancre. They were relieved on the following day by the 25th Battalion, and withdrew to the rest area at Franvillers.
During this rest period, Jack Cameron was treated by the 5th Field Ambulance for scabies. He was able to return to his Battalion on 3 June 1918, when they were back in the line.
Several days later, on 11 June 1918, Private Jack Cameron was treated by the 5th Field Ambulance for an ear infection. It was initially diagnosed as chronic otitis media, and he was transferred to the No 2 Convalescent Hospital at Rouen on 18 June 1918. He was then transferred back to the No 2 General Hospital at Le Havre, as a Not Yet Diagnosed (N.Y.D.) case. On 30 June 1918, he was transferred to No 1 Australian Conv Depot, suffering with otitis media, and he was able to return to the 22nd Battalion on 7 August 1918.
The Battalion was in the trenches at Villers-Bretonneux, working in terrible conditions. They were working at night, burying communication cables under heavy shelling, and all the time living in the very muddy trenches.
The 22nd Battalion Unit War Diary described the build-up for an imminent attach on 7 August 1918 around Villers-Bretonneux. "Tanks getting into position. Fresh guns coming into positions in rear and registering. Roads congested with traffic of all kinds, causing great inconvenience." The battle began on 8 August 1918, and involved the 1st French Army, the Canadian Corps, the 7th Australian Infantry Brigade, the 5th Australian Infantry Brigade, the 3rd Australian Division, and the 2nd English Division.
The 22nd Battalion then rested for most of September at Cappy, and were occupied in re-equipping, training and rest activities. At the end of the month they returned to the forward area at Bellicourt (part of the Hindenburg Line), with "...everybody thoroughly rested and in good spirits..."
On the afternoon of 3 October 1918, the Battalion moved up to the Beaurevoir Line and attacked the position. They gained their objective, but Private Jack Cameron was wounded.
He received a gunshot wound to his right shoulder and was treated by the 53rd Casualty Clearing Station. On 5 October, he was transferred to the 6th General Hospital at Rouen, before being transferred back to England.
After John arrived, he was admitted to University War Hospital at Southampton, where he was treated for two months. On 3 December 1918, he was discharged from hospital and granted two weeks leave, before reporting to the No 1 Com Depot at Sutton Veny.
News of his injury was reported in the Melbourne press. '“Wounded – Mrs E.G. Cameron, Ermond Street, Rushworth, has been notified that her husband, Private J.A. Cameron (late of Laverton), is suffering from severe gunshot wound in right shoulder and back".
The Argus, 24 October 1918, p.5.
After the Armistice, Jack didn't have a long wait before he was able to embark on 14 January 1919, and returned to Australia per City of York. He disembarked at Melbourne on 27 February 1919, and obtained his discharge from the A.I.F. on 14 May 1919.
Laverton held a Welcome for its Returned Soldiers in their State School on 14 October 1919. It consisted of a dinner, and was followed by a concert and a medal presentation ceremony. Those receiving medals were; Lieut H. L. Newland, Sgt A. V. Hyde, Pte A. J. Cameron, Pte A. R. Gameron, Pte W. D. Cameron, Pte D. McDonald, Pte E. E. Hyde, Sapper A. H. Peacock, Pte F. H. Rhodes, Sapper B. W. Maher, Driver E. W. Peacock, Pte W. J. Maher, Petty Officer W. Baldwin and Signaller G. N. Grant.
Werribee Shire Banner, 23 October 1919, p.2.
Jack and Eva Cameron, and their children remained in the Werribee District.
In 1923, he appeared as a witness in a court case, and stated that he was then a farmer, living in Werribee.
The Argus, 6 November 1923, p.7.
In 1931 he appeared in a court case and was described as a farmer from the Werribee South settlement. The Age, 17 June 1931, p.11.
He lived a long life, and died in 1983, aged 92 years.
Medals & Entitlements:
- 1914-15 Star – received 7 September 1920
- British War Medal – received 5 October 1921
- Victory Medal – received 29 December 1922
The name "Cameron J." first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 22 July 1915, p.3. He was the first of the three Cameron brothers who enlisted.
His name appears on the Shire of Werribee Oak Board as "CAMERON, J.A.".
"Illness - Pte J A Cameron, Laverton"
The Bendigo Independent, 18 April 1916, p.7.
There is a group photo of the men of the 6th Training Battalion at Fovant at - https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00246.002
The 22nd Battalion in England
WW1 Military Hospitals
Service History - http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/
Embarkation List - https://www.awm.gov.au/