Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Aicher brothers’ war

3231 Private Charles Rudolph Aicher, 6th Infantry Battalion 


7 Corporal William Ludwig Aicher, 6th Infantry Battalion.

Outdoor portrait of two Australian soldiers, one of whom is 7 Sergeant (Sgt) William Ludwig Aicher, 6th Battalion from East Brunswick, Victoria.
Image courtesy AWM. Image H05643.

Charlie and Wallie Aicher were the only sons of German immigrant Wilhelm (William) Aicher and his Australian born wife Ellen Amy Bartlett. Their father, a native of Stuttgart, had arrived in Australia in August 1881. He was a 41 year old father of four living in Port Melbourne when he was naturalised in 1906.
Wallie’s birth was registered under the names William Ludwig in 1893 and Charlie (Charles Rudolph on his enlistment papers) was registered as Carl Albert Charles Rudolph in 1897. Their nicknames not only tell the story of the Australianisation of the family but also hint at two popular young men in the Brunswick and Coburg area, as does the following newspaper notice: 
Argus, 12 May 1917, p.13. In Memoriam. Aicher. In sad and loving memory of Sergeant Wallie Aicher, the dearly loved chum of Morton Hart (on active service), killed in action, Cape Helles, 8th May 1915, aged 21 years. Dear old Wallie. (Inserted by his friend Marshall Hart, returned, late Trooper 3rd Light Horse.) 
The Aicher family lived at various addresses in Brunswick: Stewart Street and Mountfield Street but then moved to Service Street, Coburg and it is in Coburg’s Memorial Avenue of Trees at Lake Reserve that Wallie Aicher is remembered, although there is no longer a record of which tree was planted in his memory.

Memorial Avenue of Trees, Lake Reserve, Coburg.
Image courtesy Bruce and Sue Garrett.

Wallie Aicher’s war medals were sent to his daughter, Marjory Rosa Hall, and Marjory also received a small pension due to her being an acknowledged ex-nuptial child of a serviceman. After her father’s death on 8 May 1915, the pension increased from £13 pa to 20/- per fortnight.
On his return from the war, Charlie Aicher married Ada Janet Hall, who was probably Marjory Rosa’s mother. Marjory lived with Charlie and Ada at various addresses in Coburg until at least 1942. Both she and Charlie were tobacco workers. There are no more entries for Marjory, but it’s possible she is the Marjory Rosa Johnson of 15 Cumberland Rd., Coburg West in the 1954 electoral roll who is living there with her husband Joseph William Johnson, a pilot. They moved to various locations but in 1977 they were back in Coburg, living in Headley Street.
Older sister Rosa Clara had married James David Runciman in 1915 and when he enlisted soon afterwards, he was transferred to home duties for family reasons. A letter dated 18 October 1915 to the Commandant, 3rd Military District from Lt-Col Dodds, Adjutant General at Broadmeadows Camp states reveals the reason:
It has been represented to Head-Quarters that Mrs Aicher who has already lost a son at the front and the only other son is on the water, desires that Private David James Runciman, 9th Light Horse Reinforcements, Broadmeadows (a son-in-law), be allotted for Home duties. Please arrange for the discharge of this man from the AIF and if any suitable appointment is vacant he may be re-enlisted for home service only.
So it seems that there were times that the Army did listen to the pleas of distressed parents.
The Aicher parents both died in Coburg, Ellen in 1935 and William in 1943. Charlie went on to serve in World War Two, as did his son Maurice. Charlie’s wife Ada died in Coburg in 1944 and he died at Heidleberg in 1967 aged 70.


Naturalisation papers for William Aicher; Attestation papers for William Ludwig Aicher, Charles Rudolph Aicher and David James Runciman; Victorian electoral rolls (via Ancestry); AWM embarkation rolls; AWM rolls of honour; Victorian Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes (via Ancestry);  Brunswick and Coburg Star, 17 November 1916, Argus, 12 May 1917; AWM Roll of Honour circulars; Coburg Historical Society collection.


  1. William Aicher also lived for a time at Mt Evelyn while he worked as a metal spinner on the O'Shannassy Water Scheme - his father Wilhelm was an inspector on the project. As a result he is remembered on the Mt Evelyn war memorial

  2. Thank you for your comment. I'm always interested to see how the people who were originally connected to this area lived out the rest of their lives. You've filled in another gap in the story. Thanks.