Australian Pre-World War 1 Army Identity Disc – Albert Ernest Coombs 3156

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Shown is an unofficial Australian pre-WW1 ID disc made from a 31mm pierced aluminium disc. The central area is star-shaped with a border around. One side is lettered with pressed letters and the reverse is stamped. The badge is similar to those made at fairs, shows and exhibitions as souvenirs for over 100 years. It is holed. Stamped into the obverse is:


Stamped into the reverse is:


Scratched crudely into the center of the obverse and on the reverse rim is the year 1907.

The 1906/1907 Christchurch International Exhibition was attended by more than two million people in the 6 months it was open. Souvenir aluminium discs like this one were purchased at this Exhibition, below is another that does not have a military connection.

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Tracking the origins of the A COOMBS disc was challenging as the 7th Australian Infantry Regiment was not a WW1 Australian unit. In fact, it is a predecessor of the 8th/7th Battalion, Royal Victoria Regiment. It was called the 7th Australian Infantry Regiment from 1903 to 1908 and was a volunteer unit. The National Archives of Australia have the muster rolls and pay records of the 7th AIR online and in the Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, January – June 1907 we find in Company D that one A.E. Coombs, regimental number 3156 was paid £4/2 for 4 full days and 12 half days of service and 16 night drills.

The initials of Coombs make it easy to find his WW1 records. Albert enlisted on 5 August 1915 with the regimental number 4153. His occupation was listed as fireman, he was married to Jeanette Coombs, and lived in Sebastopol, a suburb of Ballarat in Victoria. His service records include a discharge certificate from the 7th AIR confirming service of 3 years and 10 months and that he was discharged on his own request in late 1909.

From enlistment until December 1915 he trained at several units in Castlemaine, Ballarat, Williamstown, and Broadmeadows. He boarded the HMAT Demosthenes in 9 December arriving in France in January 1916 and was taken onto the strength of the 14th F.A.B. as a Gunner. In mid-March he was assiged to the 47th battery. He served continuously for over a year before being wounded in action and was transferred to hospital also suffering shell shock. The Ballarat Courier on Friday June 15 1917 summarises the trials that he had been through.

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About a month later he returned to his unit and served for another year before being taken to a French hospital. He was invalided to the UK in late August 1918 where he spent two months recovering from a sickness. After being released from hospital he went on leave and in December was declared unfit and shipped back to Australia on the HMAT Orontes. After arriving in Australia in January 1919 he was medically discharged in March with “Debility”.

Albert Ernest Coombs died in 1972 aged 88 or 89. He is buried in the New Ballarat Cemetery and rests there with his second wife, Irene, with his first wife having passed away in 1934. It is unknown if he had any children.

Coin Information

Reference Number:c032401

Commonwealh Military Forces Victoria Muster Rolls and Paylists January to June 1907 Company D 1

Commonwealh Military Forces Victoria Muster Rolls and Paylists January to June 1907 Company D 2


A.E. Coombs WW1 Service Record – Accessed 30 March 2024
Fitzroy Shooting Affairs – Volumes of muster rolls and pay lists for Victorian militia forces [Volume 41: Commonwealth Military Forces of Victoria – Muster Rolls and Pay Lists, January – June 1907 – Accessed 30 March 2024
Gunner A.E. Coombs – Trove. Ballarat Courier June 15 1917, Page 3 – Accessed 29 March 2024
Albert Ernest Coombs (1883 – 1972) – WikiTree – Accessed 29 March 2024Family Trees – Accessed 29 March 2024

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