Stanley Victor D'Altera as a member of 23rd Infantry Battalion AIF, later 7th Infantry Battalion AIF, Gallipoli and France 1915-1917, interviewed by Dr Alistair Thomson

Accession Number S01310
Collection type Sound
Measurement 2 hr 6 min
Object type Oral history
Physical description audio cassette; BASF LH SM 90; SONY CHF 90; stereo
Maker D'Altera, Stanley Victor
Thomson, Alistair
Thomson, Alistair
Date made 8 May 1983
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright

Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use, permission from copyright holder must be sought for commercial use
Source credit to AWM Research Grants Scheme

Pte D'Altera initially enlisted 13 January 1915 and was discharged on 8 February at the request of his parents who had not given permission for him to join the AIF. He re-enlisted on 18 February 1915 under the assumed name of William Arthur and by early 1916 he was known as William D'Altera. He returned to Australia in May 1917 and was discharged in September 1917.

History / Summary

Early life; left school at fourteen; fitter and turner apprenticeship; describes Yarraville where he lived; outbreak of war; brother William’s war service; enlisted at sixteen by forging father’s signature; father retrieved him from army; ran away to Ballarat and re-enlisted under assumed name; journey to Egypt by ship; arrival in Cairo; attitude of Australians to other nationalities; member of 23rd Infantry battalion;
ship Southland torpedoed while transporting troops from Egypt to Lemnos; landed on Gallipoli 4th September 1915; took up position at Lone Pine trenches; living conditions; quality of officers; after evacuation returned to Egypt to recuperate; garrison duties along Suez Canal; battalion sent to France; transferred to the 7th Battalion; brother was officer in 7th Battalion; injured knee in bicycle accident and repatriated to Wandsworth Military Hospital in England where he ended active service late in 1917 after developing a hernia; voted against conscription; returned to Melbourne with Tuberculosis; after period of recovery in Mildura returned to old job; at twenty one years of age asked for adult pay which was refused so resigned; war experience made him more broadminded; considered the First World War an unjust war; returning to Melbourne and operation on knee; joined Yarraville Citizens’ Club, club secretary for over thirty years; resentment by veterans over lack of access to employment; some employers considered veterans too unsettled to hire; Stan was unsettled; worked in factory and began writing articles and short stories for Smith's Weekly and other publications; took active part in Agricultural Implements Manufacturing Union; joined Communist Party; always marched on Anzac Day to see his mates; Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne; 32nd Militia Battalion formed in Footscray; discusses use of returned servicemen as strike breakers; discusses Tom O'Farrell's eviction from his home in 1930; formation of Diggers Club within the Rank and File Association of the Returned Services League (RSL); discusses how war service made some veterans conservative and radicalized others; discusses Yarraville Community Club; discusses Communist Party in relation to Second World War; Communist Party Members banned from membership of the RSL; discusses positive and negative aspects of war service; thinks that Anzac legend and patriotism have been misused by conservative sections of society.