William Henry (Billy) BROUGHAM

BROUGHAM, William Henry

Service Number: 3012
Enlisted: 23 June 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 49th Infantry Battalion
Born: Howard, Queensland, Australia, 1888
Home Town: Childers, Bundaberg, Queensland
Schooling: Apple Tree Creek State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Cycle mechanic
Died: Killed in Action, France, 3 September 1916
Cemetery: Courcelette British Cemetery
V C 21
Memorials: Apple Tree Creek Honour Board, Apple Tree Creek War Memorial (Digger), Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Childers Isis District Roll of Honour, Childers Memorial Hall (Isis District Pictorial War Memorial)
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World War 1 Service

23 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 3012, 9th Infantry Battalion, Brisbane, Queensland
5 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3012, 9th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Brisbane embarkation_ship: HMAT Warilda embarkation_ship_number: A69 public_note: ''
5 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 3012, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Warilda, Brisbane
25 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 49th Infantry Battalion
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 3012, 49th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
24 Aug 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 49th Infantry Battalion
3 Sep 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 3012, 49th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 3012 awm_unit: 49th Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Corporal awm_died_date: 1916-09-03

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"BROUGHAN, William Henry. Corporal, No. 3012, 49th Battalion. Was born at Howard, Queensland, and was educated at Apple Tree Creek, in the Childers District. Son of Edward and Ellen Broughan, of Macrossan St., Childers, He was a great athlete, and was recognised as a great boxer and bicycle rider. Held the light and the welter weight championships of the Wide Bay District in 1912. He also has to his credit seven wins out of eight starts at a local bicycle carnival. Enlisted at Childers in January, 1915, and went into Enoggera Camp, where he was attached to the 9th Battalion, but was subsequently transferred to the 49th Battalion (in Egypt). Sailed for Egypt in October, 1915, and arrived in November, and went to Cairo for training. Was also at Tel-el-Kebir for training, and in June, 1916, he went over to France, and went into action on the Somme. Went through the battles of Fleurs, Pozieres, and was killed in action on the 3rd September, 1916. He was buried at Moquet Farm." - Submitted by Paul Trevor, taken from Queenslanders Who Fought in the Great War 


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Cpl 3012 William Henry Brougham,
49th Australian Infantry Battalion,
13th Brigade, 4th Australian Division
Across the fields of the Somme, stand solemnly under the golden rays of the sun, the white graves of thousands of young men who rest in peace among the poppies and who walk silently but always united with their comrades and brothers in arms on the old battlefields and the peaceful cemeteries, their last resting places where they found the peace for which they served and fought with pride, with devotion and bravery and in which we are united to remember them with respect and to honor their memory, their courage and their sacrifices so that these young men who gave their today and their lives are never forgotten, so that their memory, their stories and their names live forever in the light of the flame of eternal remembrance.

Today, it is with deep gratitude and with the highest respect that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Corporal number 3012 William Henry Brougham who fought in the 49th Australian Infantry Battalion, 13th Brigade, 4th Australian Division, and who was killed in action 105 years ago, on September 3, 1916 at the age of 28 on the Somme front.

William Henry Brougham, who was affectionately known as "Bill" was born in October 1887 in Childers, Queensland, and was one of seven children of Edward and Ellen Brougham, of Macrossen Street, Childers, Queensland, and who had a tumultuous relationship as Edward's violence toward Ellen forced her out of the house on occasion. In 1904 Edward left the family, and appears to have had little else to do with his children.William was educated at Apple Tree Creek State School, Queensland, and was a great athlete, he was recognized as a great boxer and bicycle rider. Held the light and the welter weight championships of the Wide Bay District in 1912. He also has to his credit seven wins out of eight starts at a local bicycle carnival. Before the outbreak of the war he lived in Main Street, Childers, and worked as a cycle mechanic.

William enlisted on June 23, 1915 in Brisbane, Queensland, as a Private in the 9th Australian Infantry Battalion, 10th Reinforcement, and after a three month training period at Enoggera Camp, Queensland, he embarked with his unit from Brisbane, on board HMAT A69 Warilda on October 5, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

On November 8, 1915, William arrived in Egypt and was disembarked in Cairo but fell ill and was sent and admitted to Military Infectious Hospital in Shoubra suffering from paratitis but recovered quickly and returned to his unit then taken on strength in the 9th Battalion on January 21, 1916 at Tel-El-Kebir and the following month,on February 25, 1916, was transferred to the newly formed 49th Australian Infantry Battalion at Habeita, a battalion of which almost all of the men were Gallipoli veterans. A month later, on March 19, William was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal at Tel-El-Kebir then on March 31, was sent to an instruction school at Serapeum, joined the 49th Battalion on April 22 and two months later, on June 5, with his unit, he joined the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria and embarked the same day on board Arcadian and proceeded overseas for France.

After a one-week trip on the peaceful waters of the Mediterranean Sea, William arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles on June 12, 1916 and entered the trenches for the first time on June 21 in the Flers sector, in the Somme and the following month, on July 23, the AIF fought in what was the deadliest battle on the entire Somme front for the Australian Imperial Forces:the Battle of Pozieres.

On July 29, 1916, William and the 49th Australian Infantry Battalion were sent to Rubempré for a period of training and rest and on August 1, marched for Vadencourt then for Albert on August 6 and joined Tara Hill on August 8 and finally reached the Pozieres trenches on August 13 which according to the battalion's war diary were "in very poor conditions and constantly under enemy artillery fire" and arrangements were quickly made to reinforce the trenches, particularly by strong positions protected by sections of Lewis Gun and sandbags but under increasingly destructive enemy artillery and in a letter William wrote:

"We were very lucky the last place we were in ... Just got out of our possy when a shell knocked it to pieces. It would have no doubt killed ten of us, so sometimes a man’s luck is in."

After three days of furious fighting at Pozieres, William and the 49th Battalion were relieved by the 3rd Australian Infantry Battalion on August 17 but losses were high, 21 men were killed and 84 were wounded. Exhausted and in need of reorganization, the 49th Battalion marched for Albert on August 17 then Warloy-Baillon on August 18 where the men enjoyed a well-deserved rest before being sent to La Vicogne on August 20. Four days later, on August 24, William was promoted to rank of Corporal then marched through Rubempre, Vadencourt, Albert and joined the trenches of Mouquet Farm where they were called to participate in an attack on September 3 which was also the last of the 1st ANZAC Corps in this sector.

On September 3, 1916, William and the 49th Australian Infantry Battalion attacked the German trenches in four waves and captured several of their objectives but at the cost of heavy losses and unfortunately William was killed in action during the attack, he was 28 years old.

Little is known about how William was killed but his body was found on the battlefield and shortly before his death, in a last letter he wrote:
"I suppose by the time this reaches you many of us will be blown out."

Today, Corporal William Henry Brougham rests in peace with his friends,comrades and brothers in arms in Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "In memory of our dearly loved son and brother, Lord have mercy on him."

In Australia, the loss of William Henry Brougham was keenly felt. Newspapers reported, "It seems but yesterday that he was with us in all the pride of manly vigour,a smart, soldierly figure and a credit to the uniform he wore … The news that he is no more will be received with unfeigned regret." Nobody missed him more than his mother and siblings, however, who commissioned a "splendid monument" which was erected in the Apple Tree Creek cemetery, with an inscription that reads:

"We in sorrow cried
Of our hero we were proud
He helped to build his country’s name
And, trying, died to bring her fame."

On the postcard that was written by William, we can read:
"Dear May, Just a P.C. to let you know I'm still in the land of the living and seeing a bit of the Globe, I will drop you a P.C. from "Berlin" when we push through. Hoping this finds you "Bon", kindest regards to all from an old friend. W.H. Brougham."

William, you who were in the prime of your life, at the dawn of a life full of hope and promise, it is with the greatest convictions that listening to the bells that rang through Australia that you answered the call to duty and that you left behind your home and your loved ones to join your comrades, your friends who all volunteered under the same uniform and the colors of your country to march with conviction to the battlefields of northern France.Side by side, their heads held high and their hearts filled with pride, guided by the ardor of their youth and the determination of their officers, they moved forward on the roads, through the hills and fields of poppies with a deep desire to doing what was right and doing their duty for their country, they courageously served together for peace and freedom, for humanity and the future of the world and joined the trenches with confidence but soon found death in the mud, a thick and sticky mud which very quickly mixed with blood under deluges of shells and bullets which poured the apocalypse on the shoulders of these young men who lost their youth and their innocence in this hell in which they lived and died under the crackle of machine guns which spit out millions of bullets and mowed down thousands of men in whole waves that their comrades saw collapsing in the cold steel of barbed wire.In this living nightmare, they stood side by side with the greatest bravery and held their positions with unwavering determination despite the fire and deadly gases that burned skin and lungs, despite brutality and fury, they stood with honor and found in each other, in the mateship and brotherhood that united them, the courage and strength to fight and knew that on their courage and faith would depend the future of the world and together remained strong and determined so that this fight which was the good fight, put an end to all wars so that their loved ones and future generations could live in a world at peace but the price was terribly high because thousands of them never returned home and found in France, in the Somme, their last resting place, their last home away from home and for us, they gave all they had and went over the top with resolution, gallantry and determination under enemy fire, charged bayonets forward with faith alongside their family which were their comrades, who lived, fought and fell together and made their country proud.They were young and brave and together they shared the joys and the sorrows, the sufferings and the weight, the burden of four years of a war which was without mercy and whose traces are still visible in the fields and the silent and green landscapes of the Somme who will never forget what all these men did and gave for us and who rest in peace in the white and eternal cities where their names, their stories will always be remembered with respect and gratitude and over which I will always watch with love and honor so that they are never forgotten despite the weight of the years which will never condemn them so that now and forever, they never cease to live by our side, in our hearts and in our thoughts.Thank you so much William,for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.