16 January 2013

Marcus Towler

This return is of a WWI dog tag. Unlike the dog tags of today which are made of metal, the WWI version were made of a fibreboard materiel similar to cardboard. As a result they deteriorated very quickly, especially when wet.
This particular dog tag was issued to Captain Towler of the Cyclist Battalion. Not much information to go on. By searching the UK Medal Index Cards (MIC) there was only one person who fit the bill. The MIC are sometimes disappointing due to the lack of information on them but in this case it proved to be a gold mine. From the MIC I found Towler's full name was Marcus Albert and he was later promoted to the rank of Major. His full medal entitlement was the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The MIC even notes that he had to apply for his 1914-15 Star and confirmation of the award. To my even greater surprise I found a second MIC stating that Marcus was Mentioned in Despatches.
Based on the information from the MIC it didn't take me long to locate Marcus on the Australian electoral rolls. By following him over many years I also was able to establish the names of his children.
What confused me a little was that Marcus was on the 1914 electoral roll but enlisted in the British Army in 1915. It wasn't unheard of for men who were born in England to return there after emigrating to enlist. However, the 1914 entry did make me question my research logic. I have since spoken to Marcus' family and I know more of his story.
Marcus emigrated to Australia around 1911 and settled in Melbourne. He spent a short amount of time in WA ring barking trees for land clearing but succumbed to barcoo rot. At the outbreak of WWI Marcus return to England and was commissioned in to the Army Cycle Corps. After WWI Marcus returned to Australia and became a successful business man working for a Japanese company. Every this went well until the outbreak of WWII and Marcus found himself without a job. He was then appointed as a Captain in the 2nd AIF as a recruiting officer. In addition to his WWI medals Marcus would also have been awarded the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal 1939-45.
The dog tag was sent to me by my friend Sandra. All up the search took about 20 minutes and I learnt some new things on the way, a very satisfying result.

1 comment: