Booth, Wilfred

Wilfred Booth, Private 1223, 14th Australian Infantry
Died 26th April 1915 at Gallipoli, aged 25

 

EARLY LIFE

Wilfred Booth was born on 6th March and baptised on 9th April 1890 at St John’s Church, Macclesfield, the fifth son of Mary Elizabeth and William Booth, a plumber, of 65 Crossall Street.

Wilfred was admitted to St John’s Church of England School on his third birthday in 1893, and attended this school, where he attained the Standard IV grade, until at least 1900.

By 1901, the family had moved to 39 Catherine Street, where Wilfred lived with his parents and siblings Albert (18), William (16), Norman (12) and May (10). By this time, Wilfred’s oldest brother, Fred, had already left the family home.

Wilfred’s mother died in early 1909 at the age of 59 and his father, William, married widow Sarah Ann Bell at Christ Church, Macclesfield on 8th June 1910. Sarah joined the family at 39 Catherine Street and in 1911 Willie, Norman and 21 year old Wilfred were all working with their father as plumbers, while May was employed as a silk bowmaker.

Wilcannia ship

Photograph: State Library of Queensland

Wilfred emigrated to Australia on the ‘Wilcannia’, leaving London on 13 October 1911 and travelling as a 3rd class passenger via Cape Town to Melbourne. The journey took 63 days, so he would have arrived shortly before Christmas 1911.

 

MILITARY SERVICE

Wilfred enlisted at Melbourne, Victoria, on 19th September 1914. His army service papers show him to have been 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 140lbs, with a chest measurement of 33 inches; he had blue eyes, brown hair, and a florid complexion, and his religion was Church of England.

On the 25th November 1914, Wilfred was posted to the 14th Battalion Australian Infantry and he  embarked for Egypt aboard the “Ulysses” on 22nd December 1914, spending some time at Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis in Cairo before proceeding to Alexandria.

From Alexandria Wilfred embarked aboard “Seang Choon”, spending ten days at Lemnos before landing at “Anzac”, Gallipoli, on 26th April 1915. This appears to be the last day anyone saw Wilfred – on the 7th June 1915 he was declared illegally absent. An inquiry, held on 6th January 1921, heard statements from Captain Henry Noel Boyle and Mr Reginald Thatcher (formerly Private 1224, AIF), confirming that Wilfred was last seen on 26th April 1915. This evidence was accepted and Wilfred was officially confirmed to have been killed in action at Gallipoli about 26th April 1915, aged 25 years.

Wilfred Booth is believed to be the first man from Macclesfield killed at Gallipoli.

 

COMMEMORATION

Private Wilfred Booth has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel ref. Addenda on the Lone Pine Memorial in Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Wilfred Booth, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

In Macclesfield, Private Wilfred Booth is commemorated on the Park Green and Town Hall war memorials.

Private Wilfred Booth is also commemorated on the Australian Roll of Honour.


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