William Thomas BUTLER MM

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BUTLER, William Thomas

Service Number: 2113
Enlisted: 15 April 1915, Liverpool, NSW
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 13th Infantry Battalion
Born: Gunbower, New South Wales, Australia, 1894
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Gunbower Public School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Died of wounds, France, 4 July 1918
Cemetery: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery
Plot XII, Row A, Grave No. 7, Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

15 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, Liverpool, NSW
14 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion
14 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Wandilla, Sydney
24 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
13 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, Mouquet Farm, GSW to back. Rejoined unit 3 October 1916.
11 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (First)
27 Sep 1917: Honoured Military Medal, Polygon Wood, William Thomas BUTLER 'Is recommended for gallant conduct and devotion to duty as a linesman in the operations near ZONEBEKE on 26th September, 1917. It is to the linesmen that the credit is due for the excellence of the signal communications throughout the advance. Out on the lines continuously, under the heaviest shell fire and through the fiercest barrages, BUTLER did all that was humanly possible to keep the wires going. On occasions he established "test stations" by "tapping in" along the route and waiting in shell holes. His brave and skilful work calls for very high recommendation.' MM Medal Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 7 March 1918
22 Dec 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 13th Infantry Battalion, France
27 Mar 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
4 Jul 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion, Le Hamel - Blueprint for Victory, Multiple SW sustained while laying signal wires. Evacuated to 13th Australian Field Ambulance however died of wounds same day.
4 Jul 1918: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN 2113, 13th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

William Thomas BUTLER

Military Medal

'Is recommended for gallant conduct and devotion to duty as a linesman in the operations near ZONEBEKE on 26th September, 1917. It is to the linesmen that the credit is due for the excellence of the signal communications throughout the advance. Out on the lines continuously, under the heaviest shell fire and through the fiercest barrages, BUTLER did all that was humanly possible to keep the wires going. On occasions he established "test stations" by "tapping in" along the route and waiting in shell holes. His brave and skilful work calls for very high recommendation.'

The Bendigoian Newspaper of JULY 20, 1918 reported the following:  ‘The Rev. J. Crook yesterday conveyed the sad news to Mrs. Butler, of High-Street, Golden-Square, that her fourth son, Private William Butler, M.M. had died from wounds on the 4th of July. Deceased was only 20 years of age, and had been on active service for over three years. He was twice wounded — once at Gallipoli and once in France. About six months ago Private Butler was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery on the field. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a farm hand at Gunbower, N.S.W. Mrs. Butler has two other sons on active service, whilst another son, Private H. Butler, was invalided home about 12 months ago’. [1]   

Few mothers in Bendigo suffered as the widowed Mrs Catherine Butler of Golden Square. Arrival of visitors at her front gate must have been a traumatic experience whilst she had four sons serving in the Great War. Her third son Roy was at home, returned an invalid from the Gallipoli campaign. She had word earlier her second son Herbert had been wounded three times, then the tragic news above on William (her fourth son) in July 1918. Unfortunately, just three weeks later she again receives word her eldest son Henry (known as Harry) had also been killed in France. In what must have been a familiar tale across the country, in the space of three years her life would be completely shattered by the carnage on the Great War.

The Bendigoian newspaper reporting in October 1916 on the four Butler brothers states that:  Private William Thomas Butler is the youngest son and was also employed as farmhand in the Gunbar district. He is only 18½ years old and has been on active service over 18 months. He was attached to the 13th Battalion and was reported wounded on the 7th September[2]. William listed his age a 21 and 6 months on enlistment papers, however, it is probably he was just 16 years and 6 months of age when he signed up if we are to believe the local reporters. 

SERVICE RECORD:  

Service Number: 2113

Born: Gunbower

Address on Enlistment: 381 High Street, Bendigo

Age at Enlistment: 21 stated.

Occupation: Labourer

Served: Western Front.

Unit: 13th Battalion, 6th Reinforcements

Final Rank: L/Corporal

Fate: Died of Wounds 4th July 1918 Hamel, France Age 24

Buried: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery

MM Medal Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31
Date: 7 March 1918

Photo - Four members of the 13th Battalion at Ribemont, smiling over the contents of their parcels from the Australian Comforts Fund. Left to right: unidentified; 2922 Private (Pte) Steve Alfred George Waller; 2113 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) William Thomas Butler; 4260 and Signaller (Sig) Reginald Ralph Bamford. March 1917 Unknown Australian Official Photographer AWM E00404

 

ZONEBEKE on 26th September, 1917. This action by William Butler was at the Battle of Polygon Wood. The bitter fighting raged for a further two months on the fields of Flanders.

 



[1] Bendigoian Newspaper of JULY 20, 1918
[2] Bendigoian Newspaper, October 26, 1916. Page 2
[3] AWM Collection AWM E00404 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C387913

 

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