William Thomas EXTON #3162

Indigenous Australian, William Exton, 41st & 42nd Infantry Battalions

William Thomas Exton was working as a labourer in Beaudesert with his wife Eva (Coolwell) and their young child when he volunteered to enlist with the first AIF in August 1916. He trained at Rife Range Camp, Enoggera and embarked with the 7th Reinforcements for the 42nd Infantry Battalion on board the troopship HMAT Wiltshire in February 1917.

Exton joined his Battalion in France in July 1917 when the 42nd was engaged in the Battles of Messines, and later that year participated in operations at Warneton, Broodseinde and Passchendaele.

Throughout his service, Exton was found to be AWOL several times - in May 1918, September 1918 and in March 1919. On the final occasion, he did not return from leave in London and there is little information on whether he actually returned to Australia.

Exton was discharged from the AIF in 1920 as an illegal absentee.

The information in this blog post has been researched by State Library staff and volunteers, it is based on available information at this time. If you have more information that you would like to share or further research uncovers new findings, this post will be updated.


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I think he might not be indigenous his wife Eva is but his parents are Robert and Rosetta Robinson from the UK?

I am sure this is not the correct photograph for William Thomas Exton. His father was William Exton of Lismore whose parents James and Susannah came to Australia from Lincolnshire in 1844 and he was born in 1845. His mother was Lucy Brown who was aboriginal. We do not know where William Thomas was from 1919, but in 1925 he married in Scotland declaring he was a bachelor and the family did not know otherwise until the 1990's. He died in Perth, Scotland in 1956. He was my husband's grandfather.

The Aboriginal Protector, Archibald Meston, when speaking of 'half-caste couples' who had married in his home mentions Willie and Eva, and states that Willie was a 'Logan Man'., which means he may have had connections the Gugingin clan. I noticed a previous comment saying his mother was a Lucy Brown... There was a Willie Brown from the Logan tribe, and I wonder if that is the connection.