Remembering Private Alfred Ansell, a soldier from Browns Plains, and the many other men from Logan West that fought for our freedom, in WW1.
More than 57,000 Queenslanders served in WW1, and 17 of them were from Logan West. One of those 17 was Private Alfred Eroll Ansell. Of the many inspiring displays of bravery, sacrifice, and comradery from Logan West’s fallen soldiers, Private Ansell’s story stands out.
Alfred Eroll Ansell, the youngest child of migrant parents Mary Ellen Sidey and Alfred Ansell, was born in 1892 in Browns Plains. Though he would later spend most of his childhood growing up in Brisbane, his life was heavily shaped by his family’s ties to the Browns Plains area before he was ever born.
Alfred’s roots in the area began in the mid-1870s when his parents migrated to Browns Plains, met, and married. Alfred’s parents were prominent figures in the Browns Plains settlement community during the region’s earliest development.
His mother, Mary Ellen, was born to Thomas Sidey and Ellen Bleakly Sidey in Lancashire, England, on April 10, 1853. In 1863, at the age of 10, Mary Ellen and her family migrated to Australia, first docking in Moreton bay aboard the Fiery Star. Then taking up land in Pimpama, before settling in Browns Plains.
The farm they moved into turned out to be that of farmer Alfred George Ansell, her soon-to-be husband and father of her children. Alf Ansell’s farm took up land in what’s now become the suburb of Regents Park to take advantage of the timber reserves in the area.
Alf Ansell and Mary Ellen were married in 1872 and had five daughters and one son, Alfred Eroll.
Fun Fact: Not only did Mary Ellen marry a man named Alf and name her son the same – she also had a brother named Alfred.
In 1893, when Alfred Eroll was only 18 months old, his father Alf died from injuries sustained in a fatal fencing accident. Leaving Mary to take care of the farm and six children on her own.
But living in a time where it was socially unacceptable to perform labour, Mary and her daughters would have to complete the work of the farm under the cover of night using only a lantern.
However, Mary was financially unsupported by Alf’s family back in England because she refused to send them her fairest daughter. So when two of her daughters got married off and were unable to help with the farm, Mary was forced to move her family and young Alf to Annerley, where she’d live to see him run off to war and never return.
Alfred first joined the Field Artillery Brigade of the Queensland Militia stationed in Brisbane in 1911 when he was 18, but after training for 13 months, he resigned. He later passed the entrance exams for the Queensland Railways and started working as a porter.
Life continued as usual for Alfred even after the war was declared in 1914. On June 25, 1913, he married Ethel Tilly Morse, the daughter of Ernest Tilly and Mary Morse, in Brisbane. But on September 14, 1916, aged 24, Alfred ditched his current job as a bakery carter to enlist into the army.
On his application to the Australian Imperial Force, Alfred was documented as a tall man with brown eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion. Like most English migrants and their descendants at the time, his religion was listed as the Church of England.
Alfred served in the 11th Brigade of the 42nd Australian Infantry Battalion, landing in France in 1917. On the morning of October 5, 1917, Private Alfred Ansell was in a trench at Thames Wood near Zonnebeke, Belgium, when an enemy shell landed and tragically struck him.
He had only been out of training for less than four months before he was killed, aged just 25 years and five months old.
For his service, Alfred was awarded the British War Medal which recognises any soldier that fought in a theater of war, as well as the Victory Medal which recognises the participation of a soldier in the side of allied forces which won.
Private Alfred Eroll and his parents – a fabric of Logan West’s rich tapestry of history – are permanently memorialised on a gravestone at God’s Acre Cemetery in Brisbane.
Some of the other soldiers from Logan West we remember:
Thomas George Langtree
George Livingstone Macquarie Mcdonald
George and Harry Smith Holloway
John Harry Lawton
Robert Lang Robertson
Alfred Benjamin Carter
David Onslow Jackson
Charles Edwin Trulson
Fritz William Trulson
Arthur Herbert Cresswell
James Edward Cronk
To Private Alfred Ansell, his fellow comrades from Logan West, and the many others not on our records that fought for our freedom, we remember.