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.

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