William John FOOTTER

FOOTTER, William John

Service Number: 2174
Enlisted: 14 July 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 21st Infantry Battalion
Born: Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, 1886
Home Town: Boho, Benalla, Victoria
Schooling: Boho State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Farm labourer
Died: Accidental (while handling a Stokes mortar), France, 14 July 1918
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery
Plot XX, Row C, Grave 10,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Boho Honour Board, Euroa Telegraph Park, Violet Town 'Unknown' WW1 Honour Roll, Violet Town A.N.A. Branch No 204 Honor Roll, Violet Town Honour Roll WW1, Violet Town St Dunstan's Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

14 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2174, Melbourne, Victoria
27 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2174, 21st Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '13' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Hororata embarkation_ship_number: A20 public_note: ''
27 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2174, 21st Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne

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FOOTTER  William John 2174 PTE
21st Battalion

William John Footter - known as John - was the eldest son of farmer John Footter and his wife Susan (née Pascoe).                                                                

                                Children of William John Footter and Susan (née Pascoe)
                                William John Footter 1886-1918
                                Laura Sarah Footter 1888-1888
                               Susan Maud Footter 1889-1964
                               Harriett Footter 1891-1967
                               Elizabeth Mary Footter 1893-1979
                               Richard Martin Footter 1897-1973
                               Joseph Footter 1899-1979
                               James Footter 1901-1979

John was born on a farm south of Violet Town, educated at the Violet Town State School, and worshipped at St Dunstan’s Anglican Church. He worked at home until he enlisted on 14 July 1915 when he was 28 years old. Two months later in September, he sailed on HMAT Hororata , bound for Egypt.  

By the time he arrived in Egypt as it was too late to take part in the Gallipoli campaign he remained in Egypt meeting up with the 21st Battalion in January 1916. He spent February in hospital at Ferry Post, Ismailia and Abbassia suffering from mumps and parotitis.

On 19 March 1916 he embarked from Alexandria to Marseilles where he arrived a week later on his way to Etaples. Some months were spent in Hospital with a recurrence of the illness he had suffered in Egypt.  By the end of October he re-joined his unit in northern France.  

On 20 March 1917 he was slightly wounded for which he was hospitalised, returning to this unit a week later. Leave followed until he re-joined his unit in northern France.

On 14 July the following year when a bomb he was handling prematurely exploded he was killed. One of the reports states: ‘In July we were resting at a place called Glessy about 15 Kilometres from Amiens.  There was a river between La Motte and Glessy in which our chaps used to fish. On 14 July Footter and 2 or 3 others were amusing themselves by bombing the fish with Stokes Trench Mortars. It had an instantaneous fuse and on this occasion the fuse went off too soon directly they fit it… it killed Footter and the three others…Footter was buried near Amiens on the Amiens road near the cemetery there.  I’ve seen his grave it is fully marked with a wooden cross. Footter’s home was Violet Town, Victoria.’

John finally came to rest in the Villers-Brettoneux Military Cemetery, 4 ½ miles ESE of Amiens

As both parents had predeceased him John’s brother Richard received John’s medals. They were the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal, together with the Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

Tree No 25 was planted in 1917 by T Croxford.

In 2013 Joan McDonald and Kirby Aldridge planted a Callistemon – King’s Park Special – in his honour.

© Sheila Burnell, December 2015

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal