William Hamley HEALEY DCM


HEALEY, William Hamley

Service Number: 4728
Enlisted: 10 February 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Norwood, South Australia, 23 July 1893
Home Town: Norwood, South Australia
Schooling: Norwood Public School
Occupation: Carpenter
Died: Killed in Action, France, 1 June 1918, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux
Plot III, Row C, Grave NO. 24
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Payneham Methodist Church Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

10 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4728, Adelaide, South Australia
11 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4728, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
11 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4728, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Adelaide
1 Sep 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 43rd Infantry Battalion
17 Mar 1917: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He made a daring reconnaissance, and led raiding parties across "No Man's Land" to the point of assembly. Later he carried five wounded men back to a place of safety.
1 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 4728, 43rd Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"

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Biography contributed by Elsa Reuter

William Hamley Healey is recorded as Wiliam Hanley Henley on the transcribed embarkation roll held by the Australian War Memorial. However, the original roll, and all other documentation related to Healey's service records his name as William Hamley Healey. The RSL Virtual War Memorial database has been updated accordingly.

Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

William Hamley Healey was born on the 23rd of July 1893 in Norwood, South Australia. He was the fourth son of Leah and James Healey, and he had an uncle named Waller Ernest Healey. Their religion was the Church of England, which was a common religion for many.

When William was old enough, he attended Norwood Public School and he joined the Union Football Club in Norwood. After this, he became an apprentice of J.A Cook, and served under him for 5 years to become a carpenter. Keeping to his job, he didn’t serve under any other forces. He has never been convicted by civil powers and was devoted to his job.

William enlisted for the AIF a while after the war began, but was rejected for poor teeth. After a few weeks of tending to his teeth, he applied once again on the 10th of February 1916 in Adelaide and was accepted.

He embarked on his journey on the 13th April 1916 on the HMAT A60 Aeneas. He disembarked in Suez, 14th May 1916. He trained in Suez in the 7th Training Battalion. He was then assigned to the 12th Reinforcement of the 27th Battalion before moving to the 43rd Infantry Battalion. He trained for a bit longer with his new Battalion in England before proceeding overseas to the Western Front in France, 25th November 1916.

By 23rd December 1916, his battalion moved to Armentieres to help fight in the trenches. Shortly after he was deployed into battle, he observed enemy territory, mapping down their defences. He then led his allies across No Man’s Land to try and raid the German trenches, providing crucial assistance to Lieutenant W.D. Price in guiding their allies through barbed wire and defensive positions. After this, he carried back 5 wounded men from the enemy trenches, passing through barbed wire whilst under attack by heavy shrapnel fire. His bravery and determination allowed him to push through and participate greatly towards the success of the mission. For his courageous actions, he was awarded the D.C.M – Distinguished Conduct Medal. In 2 months, he was sent back to England on leave.

During his leave, he caught an illness. However, symptoms didn’t show until he was sent back to the front lines. Once the symptoms were visible, he was immediately sent to the hospital, and stayed there for approximately 50 days. By 17th November 1917, he was back in his Battalion on the fields.

William’s past achievements and devotion towards his duty as a soldier prepared him to be promoted to be a Corporal on the 5th January 1918. He was sent to a Brigade school in England. After 10 days in Brigade school, he was sent to the NCO’s school – Non-Commissioned Officer’s school. After spending 19 days in NCO’s school, he was sent to Sniping school for another 18 days. He re-joined the 43rd Battalion for 7 days before going to England on another leave. He was on leave for about 3 months.

When he returned to his Battalion, he fought at Le Bizet, Ploegsteert for only 5 days before he was killed in action. His cause of death is unknown, however witnesses say that he died due to a shell on the first of June, when the Germans started firing their artillery. After he died, his uncle (Waller Ernest Healey) kept possession of William’s D.C.M. His grave is in the Adelaide Cemetery (Plot III, Row C, Grave NO. 24), Villers-Bretonneux, France and his roll of honour number is 136.