Allie (Allan) Thomas Watterson
Service Number 2045

A mystery fever put Private Allie Watterson out of action in August 1918 and he was still in England waiting to return to the front when the war ended almost three months later.

A bullock driver of Canungra, Allan gave his occupation as teamster when he enlisted as Allie Watterson – the name by which he was best known to family and friends – on June 8, 1917.

Allie was 23 years old and had previously been rejected for overseas service due to a hernia but, as recruitment had begun to slow in Australia after almost three years of war, was accepted into the Machine Gun reinforcements.

He travelled to Victoria for training at the Machine Gun Depot, Seymour, from August 8 to November 26 and then embarked for overseas service from Melbourne on the HMAT Indarra.

There was a two-week stopover, after landing at Suez on December 27, before the next leg of the journey from Port Said, Egypt, to Taranto, Italy, aboard the HMT Kashgar.

Arriving at Taranto on January 20, the men travelled by train from Taranto to Cherbourg, France, and then crossed the Channel, arriving at Southampton on February 1 for further training in England.

It was not until June 11 that Allie finally joined the 4th Machine Gun Battalion in France. On August 18 he was hospitalised with PUO (pyrexia – a fever – of unknown origin).

Allie was treated firstly at Rouen and then on August 26 returned to England, still suffering from the mystery fever, and never returned to the front.

Classed as an invalid, he left England for Australia  on the Orsova on January 8, 1919. Arriving on March 6, he was discharged from the Army on March 21.

After returning from the war, Allie took up where he had left off, working as a bullocky at Canungra. He married three times, outliving two wives. His first wife, Norah Isabel Wharton, whom he married in 1922, was a sister of James Wharton and Walter Wharton, and the mother of his three sons.

Their first son was named Percy Kevin Watterson in honour of Allie’s older brother, Percy Watterson, who had been killed in action on the Western Front as he went forward bravely under heavy enemy fire at Hamel in July, 1918.

“Despite earlier rejection was finally accepted for overseas service.”

A bullocky, Allie eventually became a waterside worker.

During World War Two, Percy Kevin Watterson enlisted in the RAAF and was a Leading Aircraftman with Number 80 Squadron when, like his namesake, he was killed in action. He was hit by enemy fire over Biak, New Guinea, on July 15, 1944 and was buried in the Lae War Cemetery.

In the early 1930s, as motor transport had replaced bullock teams, Allie began working on the wharfs in Brisbane and, according to electoral records, remained a waterside worker until his retirement.

Allie passed away, aged 83, on November 12, 1977 at St Mary’s Nursing Home, Manly, and was buried at Hemmant Cemetery in Brisbane.

Vickers Mk 1 Medium Machine Gun of the 4th Machine Gun Company, AIF. This gun was used operationally by the 4th Machine Gun Company for 960 days in the field, commencing at Gallipoli and finishing at Hamel in France on July 1918.

(Image: Australian War Memorial; Public Domain.)

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