William Augusta Longhurst
Serial No. 9905
9th Field Company Engineers
William Augusta Longhurst - Information
William Augusta or Gus, was a member of an influential Campbelltown family. Gus’ grandparents Edward and Sophia Longhurst had emigrated from Kent, England to Australia with their children between 1884 and 1887. This included Gus’ parents William and Louisa Longhurst. William, a brick layer, and his brothers, Robert, Mark and George worked as builders in the Parramatta area. Here, William and Louisa began their large family, with Ernest (1885), Herbert (1887), William Augusta born on the 7th of July 1890, Rita (1894), and Floris (1896). When the depression hit in the 1890s, the Longhurst builders began to struggle, deciding instead to take up ‘Homestead Selections’ in the Campbelltown area, in what is now Kentlyn and East Minto. George and Robert moved to the area first in 1895, followed by Mark and William in 1896. The Longhursts settled much of the Kentlyn area, developing orchards and assorted farms. William settled on 49 acres in Kentlyn and named it Riverside (along Georges River). William and his brothers worked hard to transform the rugged bushland into farms and homes for their families. William built a large one-room storehouse at Riverside, and when completed, was occupied by Louisa and the children. Before long William and Louisa saved a tidy nest egg, and later bought Richmond Villa on Lithgow St in Campbelltown.
Gus and his siblings grew up in the area, in a very warm and loving family. William and Louisa then adopted a daughter Eunice, and began taking care of a foster child who was a ward of the state, Kenneth Brodie. Gus worked on the family farms, before he completed a five year apprenticeship as a carpenter with A. Thompson Ferhill. Gus followed in his father’s footsteps, working as a tradesperson in the area, and became a member of the Campbelltown Rifle Club.
When the war commenced, Gus was still living in Campbelltown with his family. In April 1915, the Longhursts said goodbye to Gus’ step-brother, Kenneth Brodie, when he enlisted in the AIF. Kenneth was wounded at Gallipoli and subsequently sent home to Australia. Then in January 1916, Gus’ first cousin, James, joined the colours. At the age of 26, Gus decided to volunteer, enlisting at Rosebery Park in Sydney on the 23rd of March 1916.
When Gus joined the AIF, he was made a Sapper with the 9th Field Company Engineers as a result of his trade skills. He was then shipped out from Sydney on the 5th of July 1916 onboard the HMAT Ajana. He arrived in England, where he proved to be a hardworking soldier. On the 3rd of March 1917, Gus was promoted to Lance Corporal and Temporary 2nd Corporal at the end of October 1918. He spent the war working with the 9th Field Company Engineers. After the conflict ended, Gus remained with the Engineers, and was appointed 2nd Corporal on the 28th of January 1919. In March, He was posted for duty with the AIF Headquarters in London and was granted leave with pay. During his leave, he spent time with his mother’s sister-in-law, Marj Fuller in Kent. Aunt Marj had hosted many Campbelltown boys in her home, including Gus’ cousins James and Stephen, his step-brother Kenneth and family friends Tom Code, William and Fred Wilkinson, Charles Willis and William Hagan, who was married to Gus’ cousin Alice. After the war ended, a rose bowl engraved with the names of these Campbelltown boys was sent to Aunt Marj as a thankyou for her hospitality. Gus returned from leave and completed his war service with AIF Headquarters. He was finally sent back home to Australia on the 12th of March 1920.
Gus returned to Campbelltown to his family, whom were mourning the loss of his cousins James and Stephen, and son-in-law Frank Nicol. The war had a significant impact on the Longhurst family, but they were eager to carry on. However, the experience of the war would remain a part of their lives. Gus’ siblings married ex-servicemen and relatives of those who served. Gus’ older brother, Ernest, married Doris Andrew, sister of Bert Andrew, whom had served and also stayed with Aunt Marj. Gus’ sisters, Rita and Floris, married ex-servicemen Fred Wilkinson and Charles Willis respectively. Gus then began courting a family friend, Leumeah local Emily Hagan, whose two brothers also served in the First World War. Emily was practically part of the family, and also suffering a loss, as she had lost her brother, Walter, at Passchendaele. Gus and Emily married at the Methodist Church in Campbelltown on the 13th of September 1923. Gus continued to work as a builder and carpenter and became a Town Alderman. Gus and Emily commenced their family with twin girls, Beryl and Coral, and then Hazel and Lynette.