George Thomas Cain

George Thomas Cain was born in Ealing, Middlesex in December 1874 and after an apprenticeship in the grocery trade went, as soon as he was old enough, and enlisted for a twelve year engagement in the Royal Artillery. The introduction of short service engagements of twelve years, seven with the Colours and five in the Reserve attracted many young men in the 1890s and George was just one of many. After his period of training George became a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery and his first posting was to Portsmouth. A short time later he was part of a detachment sent overseas to spend the remainder of his time with the RGA first in India and then in Burma. His postings included Roorkee and Rangoon. He returned to Ealing at the end of his seven years, on transfer to the Reserve, and in the early 1900s married and subsequently had two children, a girl and a boy. Whether it was his innate sense of a need for adventure, or whatever else, by 1908/9 he was persuaded to immigrate to Queensland with his wife and children.

His first few years in Queensland were spent working on stations in a variety of roles in the Outback. Later, possibly influenced by the need for his children, who now numbered four, to receive some education, he and his family had settled in Warra, near Dalby.

By the time of the start of WWI in August 1914, George was by then already forty years of age but nevertheless it seems highly probable that he had sought to enlist in the AIF from the very beginning. However at that time only young very fit men were accepted and George could not match these criteria. But with each year that passed with casualty numbers continuing to rise dramatically, and with the Somme campaign, to say nothing of the Dardanelles, further AIF volunteers were desperately needed.

DALBY, 9 June 1916, the Brisbane Courier published a list of country volunteers, compiled by the recruiting officer Mr. Victor Druty. He reported that the following men had enlisted since his last report : Messrs. Joseph Mealy, Philip O'Neill, Alexander Brown, Patrick Henry Rashleigh (Dalby), George Thomas Cain (Warra), Alfred Stavely Hickson (Farndon), Wilfred Lawson Cox (Dunmoro Park).


George Cain’s AIF enlistment application was eventually accepted on 30.06.1916. He was then sent to the training establishment at the Enoggera Military Camp just outside Brisbane. But his new life in the AIF was abruptly terminated within a few months because of his malarial debilitation, a legacy it is thought left with him by his earlier army service in India and Burma. After recuperation he was transferred to the Home Defence Force and remained with them until after further persistent applications to re-join the AIF he finally succeeded in re-joining on 15.05.1918. He was posted to No 1 Depot Company and, as part of the 4th Queensland General Service Re-enforcement, on the 5th June sailed from Sydney to England in HMAT Orantes. In England he was posted to various headquarter units in the Salisbury area such as Fovant, Hurdcott, and Tidworth, and whilst there undertook clerical responsibilities until the end of the war in November 1918. He returned to Australia on the Ceramic in August 1919 and was discharged from the AIF on 27th October 1919.

For more information about George Thomas Cain or if you have some you can share please contact - Patrick Cain (

National Archives of Australia Personnel records – World War I - SERN DEPOT 57773 /B2455, CAIN G T

Key moments of the First World War

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Janette Garrad – Original Content Technician, State Library of Queensland





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