CAIN, William St. John
6239, Private, 20th Reinforcements, 9th Battalion, AIF.
b. 24.06.1888 Ross Island, Townsville, Queensland.
Enlisted: 15.02.1916 Enoggera, Qld.
d. 23.04.1937 Palmwoods, Qld.
Next of Kin: Louisa Cain - Wife.
He worked as a timber cutter and was aged 28 years and 7 months at the time of enlisting. While he was married to Elfreda Lavinia Ansell in 1912, his army records in 1916 state he was married to Louisa Cain. He stood a stocky 5 feet 5 inches tall and had brown hair and blue eyes.
On 17th December 1916, William was sent to France via Plymouth on the Clan MacGillivray. Perhaps a repeat of the renowned Christmas Truce of 1914 was hoped for. It didn’t happen, but friends and families sent as much Christmas cheer as they were able in the form of letters, billy cans of handy items, cakes and other otherwise unobtainable foods.
William landed in France on 1st January 1917, thus missing the miserable Christmas winter of Rouen.
By the end of February he was in hospital and in March 1917 he was moved back to Tooting Military Hospital in England with bronchitis. From there he was sent to a depot in Hurdcott, but the cold bleak conditions of Europe had taken their toll and on 11th January 1918 he was returned to Australia per Port Darwin for a medical discharge. Chronic bronchitis ended the war for William St. J. Cain. He was honourably discharged on the 7th April 1918 and ended his days in the relative warmth of Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast where he was a fruit grower. He took part in local activities and was a popular and valued member of the Palmwoods Branch of the RSSAILA. He was given a 1919 medal for Returned Servicemen at a function in Palmwoods. The medal was presented to his mother in his absence.
William St. John Cain died suddenly at his home, leaving his wife, one son, William Alfred Cain, and two daughters.
On 2nd June 1939, the Nambour Chronicle advertised an auction sale arranged by the Bureau of Rural Development of William St. John Cain’s property at Mooloolah. The property contained 18 acres and 10 perches of land with pineapples, cane and other crops; about 10 acres had been cleared and the house was fenced.
Sources: National Archives of Australia; Nambour Chronicle 18 June 1937 p.8.; 2 June 1939.
From the Genealogy Sunshine Coast publication
“AND THEIR NAMES SHALL LIVE FOREVER…”
REMEMBERING MILITARY PERSONNEL IN THE OLD MAROOCHY SHIRE CEMETERIES – BOOK 1, WOOMBYE
William is not included in the Adopt a Digger database as he falls outside our criteria of living in the district before 1925. He is included in this gallery as he has lived in the district later in his life and is commemorated on the Sunshine Coast. Importantly, as a WW1 digger he still deserves to be recognised and commemorated by our project.