William Thomas CROWDER

CROWDER, William Thomas

Service Number: 289
Enlisted: 5 August 1914, Crowder enlisted at Morphettville Race Track when he was 21 years old.
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Forestville, South Australia, Australia, January 1893
Home Town: Forestville, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Packer
Died: Australia, cause of death not yet discovered, date not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Goodwood Public School WW1 Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

5 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion, Crowder enlisted at Morphettville Race Track when he was 21 years old.
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement Private, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
30 Apr 1915: Wounded Lance Corporal, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, Crowder was wounded in his right thigh.
24 Dec 1915: Discharged AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 289, 10th Infantry Battalion, Discharged to care for his mother.

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

WILLIAM THOMAS CROWDER, WW1 – By Cathryn Williams 9.3

Before the War

William Thomas Crowder was born in 1893, in Forestville. His father was Henry Oswald Crowder and his mother was Mary Ann Crowder (her maiden name was Mary Ann Griffiths). He had a younger brother called Frank Henry Crowder, who also fought in the war. His occupation before the war was a Packer, and he lived in Forestville, Adelaide, South Australia, for all of his life before the war. He was single before he enlisted, and he had no children. His religious denomination was the Church of England (Anglican) and his next of kin was his mother.


When he enlisted in the AIF on the 20/8/1914, at Morphettville Race Track, Crowder was 21 years old and 7 months. He enlisted with many other local men, although there were some volunteers who travelled from Broken Hill, NSW. He was assigned to the 10th Battalion, which was made up of volunteers from SA, NSW and some soldiers who had previously served in part-time forces before the war. The 10th Battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Price Weir, and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalions, formed the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. The 3rd Brigade was commanded by Colonel Ewen Sinclair-Maclagan. Crowder was a Private when he enlisted, but he was later promoted to Lance Corporal.

Physical Description

At the time of his medical, it was recorded that he was 5 feet and 5 inches (165cm). His weight was 140 lbs (63.5kg). His chest measurement was 36 inches (91cm), and his complexion was described as ‘fresh’. Crowder had grey eyes and brown hair. He also had a scar on his right knee, and a vaccination mark on his left arm. He was deemed fit by the medical doctors who examined him.

Training, preparation and transport

Before even leaving Australia, William Thomas Crowder, and the rest of the battalion received some basic, individualistic training for a short period of time, which ended in them being presented with their regimental colours on the 17th of September 1914. The following month the battalion received collective training at company and battalion level, at Belair National Park, Glenelg, SA. Crowder served in the A.I.F, 10th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Brigade from the 20/8/1914 to the 24/12/1915. However, this did include training, so not all the time was spent fighting. He embarked for active service abroad on the ex-passenger liner, HMAT (A11) Ascanius, on the 20/8/1914. The 10th Battalion arrived in Egypt in early December, after a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia due to concerns over German warships on the route. The plan had been for the 10th Battalion to continue to the United Kingdom where it would then embark for the Western Front.

However, poor conditions and overcrowded training camps in the UK, meant that the Australians were forced to disembark in Alexandria, Egypt instead (4th of December). The soldiers were moved to a camp at Mena, near Cairo. They underwent desert training in January and February of 1915, until in late February they received news that they had been committed to an operation in the Dardanelles. They travelled by train to Alexandria and then boarded a Greek Steamer, Ionian on the 1st of March 1915. The Battalion reached Lemnos, but a water shortage on the island meant that the battalion was housed on the ship for 7 weeks. This time was spent ashore conducting exercises and planning the landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the 24th of April, the Battalion embarked for Gallipoli.

Landing at Gallipoli

At approximately 4:30 am on the 25th April, 1915, the landing at ANZAC Cove began. The 3rd Brigade (including the 10th Battalion) was the covering force, so William Thomas Crowder would have been in one of the first units to land in the bay. According to the Australian War Memorial, they are believed to have penetrated further inland than any other Australian unit. The landing did not go to plan, because the first boats carrying the covering force (the 10th battalion), became bunched, and landed at a beach that was about a mile north of the designated location. The troops became mixed, so it was hard to organise and plan, and the soldiers (including Crowder), had to scale treacherously steep ground, which was unfamiliar terrain.

Fighting at Gallipoli

Casualties in the first weeks of the campaign were heavy, and Crowder was one of 397 men who was either killed or wounded between the 25th of April to the 9th of May, from the 10th Battalion. The 10th Battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the ANZAC position, and remained serving there until the evacuation in December. Crowder wasn’t present during the evacuation, as he had been transported earlier due to wounding his right thigh. While he was fighting, the 10th Battalion was located somewhere south of Lone Pine.

Conditions in the Trenches

The soldiers at Gallipoli had to fight and live in terrible conditions. Some of these conditions were:

-          The constant, deafening noise of artillery.

-          The stench of the bodies and human waste.

-          Meagre provisions and not enough clean water.

-          Having to watch your friends and comrades die.

-          Not enough sleep.

-          Constant fear and stress.


William Thomas Crowder was wounded in action at Gallipoli at the Dardanelles on his right thigh on 30/4/1915, and was admitted to the Australian convalescent hospital, Al Hayat, Helouan, Egypt. He then embarked at Suez on the 10/5/1915 to return to Australia under instructions from the 4th M.D. He returned to Australia on the 17/7/1915, via the hospital ship Kyarra where he was on duty as a guard.


He was discharged from the A.I.F. in Adelaide on the 24/12/1915 because his younger brother (Frank Henry Crowder) who had been serving in the 16th Battalion was seriously wounded and was in a hospital in England. W. T. Crowder’s mother was a widow and an invalid, so he was the only person to care for her. He requested to be discharged so that he could support his mother. His father had died in 1915, leaving Mary Ann Crowder alone, and she had died in 1916, because she had been unwell.

Medals and Memorials

Crowder received a Victory medal, British War medal and a Star medal. These medals were given out to most soldiers, so they weren’t for anything special. He is mentioned in a memorial at Goodwood Primary School.


-          There is a letter that William Thomas Crowder sent to the camp commandant begging to be discharged so that he could look after his mother.

-          A letter was sent to the base records office for the A.I.F. in Melbourne from H.T. Raymond on the 5/11/1917. H.T. Raymond used to be in the Australian Army Medical Corps (A.A.M.C). In the letter he asked what had happened to William Thomas Crowder. He wanted to know if he had passed away, and if so, who was the next of kin so that he could contact them. The letter was sent from N.S.W. In response, the base records sent a letter back saying that William Thomas Crowder had been discharged.

-          There was also a short, typed letter informing Mary Ann Crowder (mother and next of kin) that William had been wounded. It was sent on the 6/5/1915.

-          Letter sent to the district headquarters in Mitcham on the 29/9/1915 requesting approval for William to be discharged.

Life after Service

He married Myrtle May Tester (1893 – 1980) on the 25th of November, 1916 at St. Barnabas, Church of England, George St. west. They had a baby girl in 1917 named Edna Doreen Crowder. William Thomas Crowder and Myrtle May Tester divorced, and he remained single. Myrtle May Tester, had already been in a marriage before she married Crowder, and she had had a child ( R. C. Markham). After W.T. Crowder and M.M Tester divorced, she married Richard Setten Stone.

Edna Doreen Crowder got married to Alfred Benjamin Dwyer (1906 – 1978) and they had 3 children (Helen Dwyer, Terry Dwyer and Glen Dwyer).

William Thomas Crowder became a painter after the war and his father had also been a painter. In 1918, Crowder moved to Argle Street, Arncliffe, NSW and in 1922, he moved to 7, Ann Street, Arncliffe, NSW. The time and place of W. T. Crowder’s death is unknown, but he was still alive in 1963 in Australia.

ANZAC Spirit

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC soldiers possesed characteristics and qualities that would be shown on the battlefields of World War 1. These qualities included endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, mateship, valour, resourcefullness, comradeship, hope, patriotism, dedication, discipline and initative. If a soldier showed all of these qualities, even when under the stress and pressure of war, they would show true ANZAC Spirit. In battle, men drew strength and courage from each other, and one heroic act could inspire men and give them courage.

William Thomas Crowder showed courage and patriotism when he left his family, job and life behind and enlisted when war began. He showed strong courage and determination when he landed at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli and had to fight under heavy fire from the Turks to get the high ground. He showed true ANZAC Spirit when he fought for days trying to secure a position and get the high ground. William Thomas Crowder, and all of the other soldiers fighting at the front lines at Gallipoli, lived in terrible conditions, but still managed to remain hopeful. He found the courage to keep fighting, and he recovered from his experiences. Crowder showed true ANZAC Spirit when he got wounded for his country.


-          William Thomas CROWDER 2016, The AIF Project, NSW, accessed 17 February 2019, <https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=68314>.

-          CROWDER, William Thomas 2018, Australian War Memorial, accessed 21 February 2019, <https://www.awm.gov.au/advanced-search/people?people_preferred_name=CROWDER%2C+William+Thomas&people_service_number=289&people_unit=10th+Battalion>. 

-          William Thomas Crowder Item Details 2019, National Archives of Australia, accessed 4 March 2019, <https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=3471810&isAv=N>.

-          CROWDER W T Digital Copy 2019, National Archives of Australia, accessed 4 March 2019, <https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=3471810>.

-          Advanced Search, W T CROWDER 2017, National Library of Australia, accessed 7 March 2019, <https://trove.nla.gov.au/?q&adv=y>.

-          Researching a Person 2019, Virtual War Memorial, accessed 12 February 2019, <https://vwma.org.au/education/resources-for-students>.

-          10th Battalion 2016, Wikipedia, accessed 13 March 2019, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10th_Battalion_(Australia)>.

-          CROWDER, William Thomas 2013, accessed 17 March 2019, <http://ewombat.com/doc/genealogy/individuals/I00425.html>.

-          CROWDER, Edna Doreen 2014, accessed 17 March 2019, <http://ewombat.com/doc/genealogy/individuals/I00426.html>.

-          TESTER, Myrtle May 2014, accessed 17 March 2019, <ewombat.com/doc/genealogy/individuals/I00129.html>.

-          ANZAC Landing at Gallipoli 2019, Australian Government, accessed 3 March 2019, <https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/gallipoli-and-anzacs/events/battle-landing/description-landing>.

-          10th Australian Infantry Battalion 2019, Australian War Memorial, accessed 9 March 2019, <https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/gallipoli-and-anzacs/events/battle-landing/description-landing>.