Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Chisholm, Alexander (1878–1945)

by David Carment

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Alexander Chisholm (1878-1945), by unknown photographer

Alexander Chisholm (1878-1945), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, P01136.001

Alexander Chisholm (1878-1945), soldier and draper, was born on 8 December 1878 in Brisbane, son of William Chisholm, draper, and his wife Margaret, née Gibson, both Scottish-born. He was educated at Leichhardt Street State School and Brisbane Grammar School, then went into business with his father. In 1897-1900 be worked in Melbourne and Sydney, rejoining his father in 1901; two years later he became manager of the drapery department of Cullinane's Ltd, general merchants of Gympie. He married Alice Ruth Curtis at Bundaberg on 13 October 1909 with Anglican rites.

In July 1911 Chisholm was commissioned in the 13th Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry, and served with this unit (renamed in 1912 the 1st L.H.R., Australian Military Forces) until World War I. He joined the Australian Imperial Force as a lieutenant on 20 August 1914 and was appointed to the 2nd L.H.R. The regiment reached Egypt in December and in May 1915 was sent to Gallipoli to fight as infantry; he served at Quinn's Post and Pope's Hill until the evacuation and from November was temporary staff captain of the 1st Light Horse Brigade.

Early in 1916 Chisholm took part in operations in Upper Egypt and then, before the advance into Sinai, was made brigade major; he was confirmed as captain in April. He fought in the decisive battle of Romani and at Katia and Bir-el-Abd, and was promoted major in September; his unit was then attached to Major General Sir Philip Chetwode's Desert Column which defeated the Turks at Magdhaba and Rafa. Chisholm fought throughout the 1917 Palestine campaign, participating in the second battle of Gaza and the capture of Beersheba, and on 1 January 1918 was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. At Musallabeh next April he was severely wounded in the neck, and on resuming duty was made general staff officer for the Australian Mounted Division, holding this post until his demobilization in September 1919. During the Sinai and Palestine campaigns he was mentioned in dispatches three times.

After the war Chisholm resumed business at Gympie. He continued to serve in the A.M.F. and in 1921-24 was lieutenant-colonel commanding the 5th L.H.R. From 1923 he lived at Rockhampton where he established a very successful drapery business; he later opened a branch at Biloela. Always active in local affairs, he held executive positions with the Rockhampton Agricultural Society, the Queensland Bush Children's Health Scheme, the Central Queensland Employers' Association and other organizations. He was a branch official of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia and after his death the league's Rockhampton headquarters was named after him. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1939.

Chisholm died on 17 August 1945 when his car went over an embankment at Slater's Creek, near Dululu; he was buried in North Rockhampton cemetery with Anglican rites. His wife and two daughters survived him. While never a significant national figure, he was well known in Central Queensland because of his military career and his involvement in public affairs. He was a sociable man, generous-natured and with a keen sense of humour.

Select Bibliography

  • H. S. Gullett, The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine (Syd, 1923)
  • G. H. Bourne, Nulli Secundus, the History of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. (Tamworth, 1926)
  • London Gazette, 1 Jan 1916, 1, 12 Jan 1918, 22 Jan 1919
  • Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland), 2 Jan 1939, 18 Aug 1945
  • War Diaries, 2nd Light Horse Regiment, and 1st Light Horse Brigade, and Australian Mounted Division, AIF (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

David Carment, 'Chisholm, Alexander (1878–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/chisholm-alexander-5585/text9533, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 26 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017

Alexander Chisholm (1878-1945), by unknown photographer

Alexander Chisholm (1878-1945), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, P01136.001