Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Story of William King

William was not a native Australian born, rather he was an immigrant from the UK. He was born in Hampshire and was married to Victoria Blanche King when He enlisted. As a carpenter by trade, William found a useful role in the Pioneers. William enlisted at Quorn on 13th of April 1916 and joined the 4th reinforcements for the 5th Pioneer Battalion in early June. In mid August he embarked on the Itrea from Outer Harbour.

The Pioneer Battalions performed an intermediate function between the infantry, who chiefly fought and the Engineering companies, who constructed significant earthworks, bridges etc. The pioneers formed fighting units which also could carry out moderate infrastructure building tasks.

At the end of October William disembarked, as did many, at Plymouth and spent time with the Pioneer Training Battalion around Parkhouse and Perham Downs. In late March of 1917 he left for France via Folkestone and on 26th May William was taken on strength in the field.

For the next nine months William was with the Pioneers in France. No special mention of any occurrences appears in his record.
In February William is allowed a fortnight's leave which he spends in the UK.
Another seven and a half months passes with William in France until he is admitted to hospital with a septic thumb. As noted with other soldiers, in the days before antibiotics, infections could and did prove far more serious than we treat them today. William was admitted to the 8th Field Ambulance on the 31st of October 1918. After three days in the Field Ambulance, William is transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville. A month passes and William is transferred again to Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester. During this month the war has ended.

He left for England from Le Havre aboard the Jan Breydel. But by now he seems to be on the mend as the Greylingwell Hospital only consider his thumb as slightly infected.
After six further days William is discharged to furlough on the 20th December. With the war over and his thumb better, William must have been very relieved. Not only that but he gets his furlough extended to the 6th January while he is in London. But when he is due to return on the 6th, William doesn't appear and is listed AWL by the military authorities.

During his leave, William came down with an illness and was admitted to the Military Hospital at Horsham two days before his Furlough was officially ended, which explained his non return to his designated unit. After a further fortnight William was admitted to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton and his condition has now been diagnosed as Malaria. In early March William was transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, still at Brighton. His unit was slated for return to Australia on that same day, but William is unable to join them. In fact it won't be for another two months that William is able to get aboard the Karoola at Southampton for his return to Australia. On the 6th May 1919 William leaves the Auxiliary Hospital, directly for the ship. Unfortunately, whatever the problem was has not been fully resolved. One month at sea and William is noted as dangerously ill.

He did return to Australia and reached Adelaide on the 21st of June. One month later William died of “Pyemia Exhaustion” at the Australian General Hospital in Keswick with his wife Victoria present.

William is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery in Adelaide.

The Story of Wilhelm Kluge

Statement made by No.1653 Pte J.T.C. Haworth 27 Bn.

On the 10th of June, at 10.p.m. we went over on our sector between Morlancourt and Sailly-La-Lec. The missing man left our trench with me and when we had gone a few yards he went down and I did not see him move again. Our wounded were picked up by our stretcher bearers, but the missing man was not found.
The following days the ground was often under heavy fire from the German guns. I did not pass over the same ground again and beyond this statement I am not able to give any further information.


Wilhelm enlisted in January 1915. At the time he was 23 years old and working as a station hand near port Augusta. He trained in Australia for four months, was taken on strength with 27 battalion and embarked for overseas on HMAT Geelong on the very last day of May. No records for Wilhelm exist for the period from embarkation to January of 1916. Like other soldiers it is likely that Wilhelm served at Gallipoli.

From January he was taken on strength with 27 Battalion at Tel el Kabir and in March he was transferred to the 7th brigade MCG in Ismalia. Wilhelm spent most of March in the 1st General Hospital there being treated for VD. He returned to C company of 27 Battalion, then in June he left Egypt aboard HMT Aragon to arrive in Plymouth on 23rd. For the next 6 weeks Wilhelm was in training around Larkhill and Rollestone in the UK until the 17th of August found him in Etaples. He fought with the 27th Battalion for the next two months until sucumbing to trenchg feet put him back in hospital in Rouen in November. Wilhelm was discharged after almost a month in hospital but he seemed to be attached to the base depot until 28th February, 1917.
This is where Wilhelm's story becomes more tragic. After serving at Gallipoli and several months active service on the western front, Wilhelm deserted in early March. However, he was back with his unit only 4 days later and in another 4 days, on the 12th April, he was court martialled and sentenced to ten years penal servitude. Wilhelm now found himself in Rouen prison.
It is unusual to find sentences of this severity, a number of the other Quorn soldiers absconded at various times, but their sentences were always much lighter, being a few days of FP2 or barrack detention. It is not known what characteristics of Wilhelm,s escapade or external circumstances lead to him being treated so severely.

A month after beginning his ten year sentence Wilhelm had it commuted to two years.
After almost a year in prison, on the 18 May 1918, Wilhelm's sentence was suspended on the basis that he rejoin his unit, which he did on the 21st.

Twenty days later Wilhelm would once again disappear. This time it was not by choice. The investigation at the time sought witnesses, but it was evident that Wilhelm had in fact been killed in action.

Subsequently Wilhelm's body was rediscovered and bought in to the Beacon British Cemetery at Sailly Laurette.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ginger Beer Catastrophe!

While I was away one of my ginger beer bottles exploded! They were stored in the laundry sink for just such an eventuality, Yesterday another one went off with a mighty bang. It threw another full bottle completeyl out of the sink.

Ginger beer, a new explosive.
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