Kilmore Remembers WWI Veterans – Arthur Hatton Alder

Fourth Light Horse take the salute in Melbourne – 1914

Arthur Hatton Alder (Reg No 371) was born on May 14 1889 in Kilmore. He enlisted very shortly after the outbreak of the war, on August 18 1914, at Broadmeadows. He had already spent five years as a Light Horse cadet and on enlistment was enrolled in the 4th Light Horse Regiment, C Squadron.Fourth Light Horse Badge

He was the seventh of eight children of  JAMES ALDER , who was born in 1853, and who died in 1928 in Newport, Victoria, and  MARY ELIZABETH HATTON, daughter of JOHN HATTON and ELIZA GEORGE. She was born 1862 in Port Fairy (Belfast), Victoria. They married in 1878 in Kilmore. His next of kin at enlistment was stated as his mother, then resident at Pakenham St., Echuca. He was single at the time of enlistment. His occupation was listed as a draper.


He embarked at Melbourne on the HMAS Wiltshire (A18) on  October 19, 1914 and disembarked in Egypt on December 10. The Wiltshire carried the bulk of the Fourth Light Horse on its initial embarkation. The Wiltshire and Anglo Egyptian sailed by convoy from Albany and passed by the action against the Emden at the Cocos Islands.

The 4th Light Horse Brigade was raised in response to a promise made by the Australian Government to supply a division of 20,000 Australians comprising infantry, artillery, and cavalry, to be used at the discretion of Britain. The 4th Light Horse Brigade was part of the 4th Contingent that was raised from March 4, 1915. The 4th Light Horse Brigade was primarily raised from recruits currently serving in the various militia light horse formations created as a consequence of the Kitchener Report 1910. The Brigade was disbanded in July 1919.

The fourth Light Horse took part in many of the well-known actions of the War, including the capture of Beersheba, the action at Gallipoli, the Second Battle of Gaza, Ypres and Passchendaele in France, and many other campaigns. It served primarily in the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns in the later stages of the war and engaged in actions such as the 1918 Battle of Megiddo. After the conclusion of hostilities, the cavalrymen had to farewell their best friends, the horses. The healthy horses were transferred to the Indian Cavalry while those in poor condition were destroyed by the Veterinary units. None of the horses were allowed to return to Australia. The 4th Light Horse Regiment embarked on the June 15, 1919 for the long voyage to Australia where the unit was disbanded.

Arthur Alder is documented as having joined the MEF at Alexandria in 1915 and on May 21, 1915 he was present at Gallipoli. He was transferred to France in June 1916, arriving at Marseilles. The exact details of the areas he served in in France are not recorded.

During his service he was promoted several times, to Provisional Signals Sergeant in September 1915, and to full Sergeant in December of that year. He was further promoted to 2d Lieutenant in May 1917 and a full Lieutenant in August 1917.

He suffered from recurrent episodes of periostitis and was admitted to hospital on several occasions in 1918. He returned to Australia on the Leicestershire in December 1918.

He had the distinction of receiving two awards from the Belgian Government. He was awarded both the Belgian Croix de Guerre, a medal given for bravery in the field, and a higher award,  the “Belgian Order de la Couronne, Chevalier”,  awarded for conspicuous service in other areas. This latter award was given only to two Australians in the gazetted listing  in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, Number 91, dated 23 July 1919, and in the corresponding British gazette. The medals were delivered to him with an accompanying certificate in January 1922.

Belgian Croix de Guerre – with palm

He was also awarded the 1914/1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.

He married Elizabeth Helen Thompson in 1923. By 1925 he was living in Echuca, and an article in the Riverine Herald describes him as opening a “commodious new shop on the corner of Hare and Pakenham Streets.”  It goes on to say “the shop is well stocked with the most up to date things required by men and boys”, implying that he had resumed his old occupation as a draper. By 1939 he was living in Oakleigh. He died on August 20, 1951 and was entered in the War Service Necropolis List on September 6, 1951.

The Alder family provided at least one other combatant during the first World War. Arthur Hatton’s brother Frank Leslie Alder also enlisted and there is a letter from him in the Riverine Herald in 1917 describing “a miraculous escape” on Frank’s part in which he was briefly captured but enabled to escape owing to the German unit which had captured him being engaged in further action and losing their prisoner during the confusion of combat.

A letter survives from his wife, Elizabeth Alder, dated 1967, in which she applied for the original Anzac Commemorative Medal on behalf of her late husband.


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