Francis William Singleton

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Francis William Singleton
Singleton Francis.jpg
Personal Information
Date of Birth 17 Feb 1884
Place of Birth Plumstead, England
Death 22 Jan 1965, aged 80
Place of Death Midvale, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 30 years, 11 months
Description 5'8½" (1.74m) tall ; 139lbs
63.049 kg
; sallow complexion ; hazel eyes ; dark hair ; tattoos of breast of a woman on his right upper arm, a dancing girl, ship left lower arm and a dagger and snake left forearm
Occupation Labourer
Religion Church of England
Address Dulwich street, East Cannington
Next of Kin Wife , Mrs Clara Charlotte Singleton
Military Information
Reg Number 1829
Date of Enlistment 13 Jan 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation Hospital Transport Corps, transferred to 14th Australian Field Ambulance
Date of Embarkation 22 Feb 1915 ‒ 24 Mar 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A50 Itonus Transport duty
Date of Embarkation 1 Jun 1916 ‒ 19 Jul 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A69 Warilda
Date of Return 13 Dec 1915 ‒ 14 Jan 1916
Ship Returned On HMAT A62 Wandilla transport duty
Date of Return 10 Mar 1918 ‒ ?? Apr 1918
Ship Returned On HMT Durham Castle transport duty
Fate Returned to Australia
Monument Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Medals Queens South Africa Medal
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Francis William Singleton was born in Plumstead on 17 February 1884 and his parents were William Singleton and Emma Alexandra Singleton (nee Blake), his father was a labourer in a gun factory. He finished school about the age of 12 years and by the Census on 31 March 1901, Francis was living at 33 Kashgar Road, Plumstead as a boarder, working as bricklayer.

He joined the British Army, serving for 6 years as a Private with the Royal Army Medical Corps (Service No. 1819) and served in South Africa with the Royal Army Medical Corps where he earned the Queen’s South Africa Medal with one clasp “South Africa 1902.

Francis married Clara Charlotte Gray on 14 July 1906 at Telscombe, Sussex. Following his discharge from the army he and his wife moved back to live with his widowed mother at 'Alexander Cottage', Soutsfield Road Tatsfield, Westerham, Surrey. She was owner of a local Poultry Farm and was assisted by Francis who was working as farm labourer according to the 1911 Census.

In the same year, Francis with his wife, two children (Francis and Albert) and his mother took 3rd class passage on 11 July on the S.S. Osterley, from London for Australia, arriving in Fremantle on 8 Aug 1911.[1]

War Service

Francis entered Blackboy Hill camp on 15 Jan 1915 and a month later he was allocated to the 4th reinforcement draft for the 11th Battalion. On 9 Apr 1915 he was transferred to 'C' Company of the newly formed 28th Battalion, but was transferred again on 14 May 1915, this time to the Australian Medical Corps Hospital Transport Corp. An entry in his papers shows that on 4 Jul 1915 he was detailed for duty aboard HMAT A70 Ballarat's return voyage to Australia. He departed again soon after as he departed for Australia on 18 Dec 1915 and arrived in Fremantle on 14 Jan 1916 aboard HMAT A62 Wandilla.

Transferred to the 14th Field Ambulance and given a new Service No. of 1829, he returned to England on 19 Jul 1916 aboard HMAT A69 Warilda. On his arrival in England, Francis reported to the Parkhouse camp in Salisbury. On 12 Oct 1916 he proceeded overseas to France and on 4 Nov 1916 he was detached to the 8th Field Ambulance. On 13 Nov 1916 he returned to the 14th Field Ambulance. Detached again on 3 Dec 1916, this time to the 53rd Battalion.

In early 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line and the 53rd Battalion was part of the Allied pursuit of the Germans. They were then committed to the Battle of Bullecourt (9 April to 16 May 1917). It was during this battle that Francis was accidentally injured (at Becourt) with a Potts fracture to an ankle on 30 April 1917. The C.O. of 14th Field Ambulance certified that injury sustained at Bullecourt France, nature of injury carrying a patient, nobody to blame, but the injury being serious.[2]

Admitted to 56th Casualty Clearing Station hospital on 2 May 1917. On 15 May 1917 he was placed on an Ambulance Train for the coast in order to be evacuated to England.

In England he was admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital on 16 May 1917, before being released to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 8 Jun 1917. Discharged to the 5th Convalescent Depot on 13 Jun 1917, he was well enough to resume duty on 9 Jul 1917. Francis returned to France briefly, before returning to England on 24 Dec 1917, and on 4 Mar 1918 he resumed his previous nursing duty on transport ships, returning to Australia on the HMT Durham Castle.

Post War

Returning from the war Francis was employed as a caretaker at the Clayton Estate in Helena Valley until his retirement. Clara died on 5 Jun 1972 in Helena Vale, aged 88.


Helena Valley Man Injured. Because he thought the possession of a quantity of gunpowder on his premises was inviting trouble, Francis Singleton (63), of Helena Valley, decided to destroy the gunpowder, but in the process of destruction he was involved in the flare and is now an inmate of the Perth Hospital.

The police were informed that Mr. Singleton had a tin of gunpowder in his home for some time. As he considered It was dangerous to keep the gunpowder on the premises, he decided to destroy it. He took the tin containing the explosive into his backyard last Friday morning and made a trail with the powder about 2ft. long. Then he set a lighted match to the gunpowder and could not get out of the way of the resulting explosion before he was burnt on the head, face and arms. At first it was not considered that his injuries were serious, but he collapsed yesterday morning and was removed to hospital in the Midland Junction district St. John Ambulance.[3]

Seven Persons Punished. Seven men were fined a total of £62/10/ by Messrs. T. L. Clune and Gardiner, J.P., in Midland Junction Police Court yesterday for offences in connection with Street betting on Saturday.

For obstructing pedestrian traffic in Helena-street and Viveash Road, Midland Junction, respectively, Charles Thomas McCarthy (37), boilermaker, of Loton Avenue, Midland Junction, and Francis Single ton (69), bricklayer, of Helena Valley, were each fined £15, with 4/6 costs against the former and 2/6 the latter.[4]
Personal Mr. Francis. Singleton, of Clayton Road, Helena Valley, had the misfortune one day recently to receive a nasty cut on his right foot whilst cutting wood at his home. Five stitches were necessary to make ends meet.[5]

Francis's son Edward George served during WW2 as a wireless Operator/air gunner in the RAAF.


For further details contact the Gosnells Library's Local History Collection.

  1. Gosnells Local History Collection
  2. Gosnells Local History Collection
  3. The West Australian (Perth, WA: 1879 - 1954) Tuesday 26 March 1940 p 3 Article
  4. The West Australian (Perth, WA: 1879 - 1954) Tuesday 30 April 1946 p 6 Article
  5. The Swan Express (Midland Junction, WA) Wednesday 23 December 1953 p.2 Article

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