William Henry COOLING

COOLING, William Henry

Service Number: 253
Enlisted: 7 May 1915, Enoggera, Queensland
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Corinda, Queensland, Australia, January 1895
Home Town: Oxley, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: School teacher
Died: Died of wounds, Gallipoli, 22 October 1915
Cemetery: Embarkation Pier Cemetery
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane Albert Street Uniting Church Honour Roll, Brisbane Logan & Albert 9th Battalion Honour Roll, Corinda Sherwood Shire Roll of Honor, Oxley War Memorial
Show Relationships

World War 1 Service

7 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 253, Enoggera, Queensland
24 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 253, 26th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Sergeant, 253, 26th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Brisbane
22 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 253, 26th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli

Help us honour William Henry Cooling's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...253 Sergeant William Henry Cooling, 26th Battalion, of Corrinda, Qld. A school teacher prior to enlisting in May 1915, Cooling embarked as a Sergeant from Brisbane on board HMAT Ascanius (A11) on 24 May 1915. On 22 October 1915, Sgt Cooling died of wounds received in action at Gallipoli. He was 20 years of age." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

William Cooling was born in December 1894 at Corinda, the only son of Henry and Ellen Cooling. By the time of his enlistment, his family’s address was given as “Oxley, near Brisbane.” The embarkation roll listed his occupation as state school teacher and given that he lived in the Oxley District, he may well have been a teacher at Oxley School. By the time William enlisted, his father had died, leaving his mother a widow. It is reasonable to assume that his salary as a teacher was supporting both his mother, and his younger sister, Ida

Prior to his enlistment in May 1915, William was a member of the 9th Infantry Battalion, Oxley Regiment of the Citizen Military Forces. This prior military experience would see him promoted to Sergeant of A Company; 26th Battalion when he arrived at Enoggera for basic training. After just one month at Enoggera, the 26th sailed on H.M.A.T. “Ascanius” bound for Melbourne and ultimately Egypt.

The 26th Battalion was one of two Queensland Battalions raised at Enoggera in early 1915 as part of the newly created 2nd Division AIF. The 26th was comprised of mainly Queenslanders and Tasmanians, whilst its sister battalion, the 25th was almost exclusively Queenslanders. The 2nd Division was destined for Gallipoli, where they would relieve the 1st Division who had been holding the ridges since April 1915.

After the failed August offensives at Suvla Bay and The Nek and the heroic battle of Lone Pine, the ANZAC front settled into a quiet stalemate. When the 26th arrived at ANZAC on 12 September, they performed a mainly defensive role at Courtney’s Post and Steele’s Post.

On 22 October, just over a month after his arrival at ANZAC, William Cooling was admitted to a Field Ambulance station with shrapnel wounds to the abdomen. Later that day he was transferred to a Casualty Clearing Station for evacuation but he died that same day. He was buried in a cemetery near the CCS with an Army Chaplain conducting the ceremony. His religion was given as Methodist.

As was the usual practice, William’s mother as next of kin, was informed that her son had died of wounds. A clerical error incorrectly listed his death as occurring on 22 September, not 22 October. This error was to cause his mother great anguish as soon after being informed of his death she received a letter from her son dated 17 October, some three weeks after his supposed death.

William’s mother was granted a military pension of $26 per year. His army file contains a number of letters from his mother seeking clarification on his date of death and she even sends the letter of 17 October as proof that the date of 22 September must not be correct. This matter, she writes needs to be cleared up so that a death certificate can be issued and Williams’ life insurance and his bank account can be transferred to her. She was obviously very dependent on this money to support herself and her last surviving child, daughter Ida. Ellen had been named the sole beneficiary of William’s Last Will and Testament, with the prophetic heading “in the event of my death.” During this long correspondence Ellen and Ida Cooling continued to reside at “Oxley, near Brisbane.” In the middle of 1916, Ellen received two parcels containing the personal effects of her late son: comforter, letters, wallet, photograph, watch, belt and three coins.

At the end of the war, the Australian Government, placed advertisements in all newspapers calling for the next of kin of deceased servicemen to contact the armed services so that medals could be issued. William’s sister, Ida replied advising that her mother had died and that she was the sole surviving relative of William Cooling. The medals were duly issued to Ida, 1914-15 Star, the Empire Medal and the Victory Medal. Ida also completed the Roll of Honour Card. At some time after William’s death, a palm tree was planted in the grounds of the Sherwood Methodist Church (now Uniting Church) in his memory. It is probable that this may have been the church he and his mother and sister attended as his religion was given as Methodist, and the tree may well have been planted by his mother and sister. During recent renovations to the church and grounds, the palm tree was removed and the plaque commemorating William Cooling has been placed on another tree in the church grounds.

William Cooling is also commemorated on the Oxley War Memorial. His grave is located in the Embarkation Pier Cemetery at Gallipoli. He is buried with almost 300 fellow soldiers from the Empire. A photograph of William Cooling is held in the Australian War Memorial collection.

Courtesy of Ian Lang

Mango Hill