William John UNWIN


UNWIN, William John

Service Number: 6853
Enlisted: 20 April 1917, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 52nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Liverpool, England, July 1876
Home Town: South Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Tattoo artist/Wharfie
Died: Killed In Action, To Be Determined, France, 5 April 1918
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
No known grave, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Bundaberg War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

20 Apr 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6853, Brisbane, Queensland
14 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6853, 26th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
14 Jun 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6853, 26th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Sydney
5 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6853, 52nd Infantry Battalion, Dernancourt/Ancre

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

Les McFadzen (Warrant Officer I Rtd, Royal Australian Engineers) writes;

"William John Unwin (service no. 6853) enlisted in Brisbane on the 20th April 1917.  He had been working as a wharfie but gave his occupation on the enlistment form as “tattoo artist”.  He is described on this form as being “tattooed from head to foot”.  On the enlistment form he nominated his wife, Ellen Jane, as his next of kin, although he stated that he had no children, when in fact he had four.

After his enlistment the two oldest boys, William Baden (aged 17) and Ernest John, known as Ernie, (aged 15), also left home.  They must have located their father at the Enoggera Army Camp, because on the 10th May 1917, they also joined up even though they were both under the legal enlistment age of 18.  The boys were allocated consecutive regimental numbers to their father – 6854 (Ernest) and 6855 (William) as they all must have been allotted to their units at the same time while being trained at Rifle Range Camp in Enoggera.

Their father signed the parental consent form for both boys as they were under 21 and also forged the signature of his wife.  This is obvious when comparing the signatures on all three Attestation forms as it is the same writing for both father and mother.  It was not until August 1917 that proof of age in the form of a birth certificate was required.

Private William John Unwin, serving with the 52nd Infantry Battalion was killed in action on the 5th April 1918 at Dernancourt, France.  An eyewitness, Private Walter David Scarborough (service no. 2978) provided the following account of his death:- At Dernancourt April 5th 1918 at about 3 p.m. we were defending against a big attack.  Unwin was one of a bombing party and was first wounded by rifle fire in the leg.  He fell, and was almost immediately hit with a piece of shell and killed instantly.  I saw him dead on the field.  I know nothing of burial.  We were driven back..." - READ MORE LINK (blogs.slq.qld.gov.au)