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31 Battalion
Beerburrum Soldier Settlement
June 1885
Cracow, Poland
31 August 1915
HMAT A62 Wandilla
9 November 1915


Robert Gustav Thaler, a native of Germany, married Karolina Wojeck, a native of Poland, in Poland. Robert and Karolina and their five children were booked to depart London on the "Merkara" on 29 September 1891, but were struck from the passenger list before its departure. Whatever the cause of their delay, it was quickly resolved because the family embarked on 26 October on the "Roma", bound for Townsville where it docked on 16 December. The ages of the passengers were declared as Robert (45), Karolina (36), Emma (8), Gustav (5), Maria (domestic servant, 18), Stanislaw (16) and Adolph (farm labourer, 14). Gustav, their youngest, had been born in Cracow, Poland.

In the Electoral Roll of 1903, Marie Christina Dorotena Thaler, domestic duties, resided at Tower St., Charters Towers. Her brother, Adolph, engine driver, was recorded at Church St., Charters Towers.

In the First Print of the Electoral Roll of 1913, Gustav Thaler was living at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Blackall. His occupation was "labourer". In the Second Print, he was recorded at Muldu via Jondaryan. He was a farm labourer.

Military context

The 31st Battalion was raised as part of the 8th Brigade at Enoggera in August 1915 and, after uniting with companies raised in Victoria and training at Broadmeadows, steamed from Melbourne in November.

The 8th Brigade joined the newly raised 5th Australian Division in Egypt and proceeded to France in June 1916. The 31st fought its first major battle at Fromelles, having entered the front-line trenches only three days earlier. Although it still spent periods in the front line, the 31st played no major offensive role for the rest of 1916.

When the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917 and the British front advanced in their wake, the 31st Battalion participated in follow-up operations but missed the heavy fighting to breach the Line at Bullecourt because the 8th Brigade was deployed to protect the Division's flank. The only large battle in 1917 involving the 31st in a major role was Polygon Wood, fought in the Ypres sector of Belgium on 26 September.

With the 5th Division kept largely in reserve, the 31st Battalion had a relatively quiet time until the battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. Its last major action was in September when the 5th and 2nd Australian Divisions attacked the Hindenburg Line along the length of the 6 kilometre St Quentin Canal tunnel which was a major obstacle in the German defensive scheme.It was resting and retraining out of the line when Armistice was declared. The 31st Battalion disbanded in France on 21 March 1919.


Gus Thaler enlisted in the A.I.F. at Brisbane on 31 August 1915. He was a naturalized British subject but had been born in Poland. At enlistment, he was a cook. He was 5 feet 2 inches in height, 121 pounds in weight, of dark complexion, with brown eyes and black hair. His religion was Roman Catholic and he listed his mother Mrs K. Thaler, Pimpama, as his next of kin. He had served for three years previously in the Reserve. He was 30 years 2 months old and carried a scar on the bridge of his nose. His Service Number was 308. On 14 October 1915, at Broadmeadows, he was allocated to the "C" Company of 31st Battalion.


Gus Thaler embarked on the HMAT A62 "Wandilla" at Melbourne on 9 November 1915 (a fellow serviceman in the 31st was Barney Barnes who would farm at the Beerburrum Soldiers Settlement after the war) and disembarked at Suez on 7 December.

On 12 May 1916, he was transferred by the 15th Field Ambulance to the No.1 Australian Stationary Hospital as Ismailia, suffering from a hernia. He was admitted on 15 May but quickly passed on to the No.3 Auxiliary Hospital at Heliopolis. On 24 May, Base Records wrote to inform Private Thaler's mother that he was suffering from a mild hernia and had been admitted to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Cairo.

On 10 July, he was taken on board the hospital ship "Clan McGillivray" at Suez. It had been deemed necessary that he be repatriated to Australia for surgery to repair his hernia.

He disembarked at Sydney on 14 August 1916 and proceeded by train to Brisbane. He was discharged, medically unfit, on 23 October.

After the War

From 2 August 1917, Gus Thaler was awarded a pension of one pound per fortnight. At the time, he was residing at Laurel Avenue, Wilston, Brisbane. He was recorded there, with his parents, for the Electoral Roll of 1919, although he had been married in the previous year. His occupation was "cook".

Gustave Thaler married Eva Scriven at Brisbane in 1918. The couple were to have three children, Gustave Robert (born in about 1919), Noel James (born in about 1933) and one other son who was deceased by January 1971.

Beerburrum Soldier Settlement - Lot Number 471. Gus and Eva are on the second print of the 1919 electoral roll at Beerburrum.

Gus Thaler was issued the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Gustav's father, Robert, aged 74 years, died and was buried on 28 May 1920 in Toowong cemetery, Portion 20, Section 41, Grave 9. Karolina, his mother, died on 21 November 1923 and was buried in the same grave as her husband the following day.

In the Electoral Rolls from 1925 to 1958, Gustave and Eva were recorded at Amberley. Gustave's occupation was "labourer". In 1958 Gustave was not employed and their son, Noel James Thaler, R.A.N., was residing with them.

Gustav Thaler died on New Years Day 1971 in the Ipswich General Hospital. The cause of death was listed as myocardial infarction, acute left ventricular failure, and coronary occlusion. The informant to his death certificate was his wife, Eva Thaler, whose address was care of One Mile Post Office, Ipswich. Gustav's occupation was declared as "railway employee". The details relating to Gustav's arrival in Queensland and his age were slightly inaccurate - his age was declared as 88 years and his time in Queensland 85 years. More probably, the correct information was 85 years and 79 years. The burial was at Ipswich Cemetery on 4 January 1971 according to the rites of the Methodist Church.

Returned to Australia
Disembarked from "Clan McGillivray" at Sydney on 14 August 1916
1 January 1971
Ipswich General Hospital, Queensland
85 years
Ipswich Cemetery

Australian War Memorial

National Australia Archives

Queensland Death Certificate No. 29108/C693.

Charlie50 and Yvonne Atkinson

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