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The Channel Islands and the Great War
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Austin, W T

Tyne Cot Cemetery and  Memorial

Tyne Cot Memorial & Cemetery, Belgium

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

William Thomas Austin

Private William Thomas Austin
8th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment

Born in Cardiff to Jersey-born James Austin Balston and Mary Elizabeth Balston (nee Woonton)

Killed in action, aged 19 years

As can be seen from his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry, William Thomas Austin was the son of Mr J and Mrs M E Austin of 167 Wood Road, Pontypridd, Glamorgan. However, Austin was not his proper surname, rather it was one that was adopted by his Jersey-born parents. J Austin was, in fact, James Austin Balston who was born in the parish of St Lawrence in 1854, while his wife, ME Austin, was Mary Elizabeth Woonton who was also from the same parish, being born in 1857. They had married in 1881. Why the adoption of Austin as the family surname?

As a result of information received from Woonton family descendants, it appears that around 1890, James and his wife suddenly left Jersey, the reason for this was that James was ‘running away’ after being associated in some criminal skulduggery involving the sale of a horse. Not wishing to be traced by Jersey’s police, James dropped the surname Balston and henceforth used Austin as his and his family’s new surname. Yet, when William was born in 1898, he was registered as William Thomas Balston (see the Cardiff Register of Births, Volume 11a, Page 462).

William originally enlisted with the South Wales Borderers and was given the regimental number 46027. At some stage, it is not known when, he was transferred to the Gloucestershire Regiment.