A century on from the end of World War I we acknowledge their service …
Lest we forget.
Driver Alexander Henderson Priest
Born: 28 June 1880 Collingwood.
Enlisted: 6 October 1916 aged 36. Died: 13 Jan 1963 Pakenham.
Served: Western Front.
Also known as “Sandy”, Alexander was a son of Joseph and Jane Priest, who settled in Pakenham Upper before 1880. From around 12 or 14 years of age, he drove his older brother’s bullock team, then became an engine driver working in saw mills, worked on orchards in the Toomuc Valley and gained farming experience both on his father’s property and his own 98 acre block at Cora Lynn, selling the latter when he enlisted. Sandy was taken on strength with the 7th Field Company Engineers in Belgium as a driver and endured the gruelling conditions on the Western Front during the winter of 1917/18. Sandy drove a team of six horse with a pontoon (presumably for fording waterways), from St Quentin to the Somme, Amiens and Villers-Bretonneux. He returned to Australia in September 1919, still suffering from a weakness in the knee due to a kick from a horse and sought a discharge from the Army. Sandy farmed well into old age at Caldermeade and Catani and only had to give it up around 1962 due to ill-health. He never married.
This is an extract from Patrick Ferry’s book A Century After The Guns Fell Silent – Remembering the Pakenham District’s WWI Diggers 1914-18.
For more details on this and other profiles in the book, head to the website www.pakenhamww1.com