William Henry SOULSBY


SOULSBY, William Henry

Service Number: 2230
Enlisted: 4 January 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 5th Infantry Battalion
Born: Murphy's Creek, Victoria, Australia, 14 December 1890
Home Town: Rheola, Loddon, Victoria
Schooling: Rheola State School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Lagnicourt, France, 25 April 1917, aged 26 years
Cemetery: Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy
Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Inglewood War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

4 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2230, 5th Infantry Battalion
25 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2230, 5th Infantry Battalion
25 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2230, 5th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ceramic, Sydney
5 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2230, 5th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2230, 5th Infantry Battalion, Embarked on the Britan at Alexandria to join the BEF, France

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Biography contributed by Heather Ford

William Henry SOULSBY (known as Harry) was born on the 14th of December 1890 at Murphy’s Creek, Vic (reg.7462, in 1891 at Tarnagulla).  He was the third eldest son of Robert SOULSBY and Jane LEISK, who married on the 23/6/1885 at Dunolly.  The Family moved to Rheola not long after Harry was born, and his father ran the local store and Post Office.  Jane, who had served as the treasurer for the Rheola branch of the Red Cross Society during the war, died on the 31/3/1924, aged 61 and Robert died on the 26/5/1931, aged 70.  They are buried together in the Rheola Cemetery.

Siblings (9):  George, (1886-1955); Robert Magnus, (1888-1952); Elsie Jane, (1893-1945); Mary Alice, (1894-1978) – married Stanley Ross CATTO 1922 (brother of the 3 CATTO boys); Bertie Clarke, (1896-1949); James Francis, (1898-1945); Thomas Stanley, (1900-1938)); Ruby Catherine, (1904-1956); Ernest Roy.1906-1957)

Harry was educated at the Rheola State School, was a member of St John’s Church of England, and a playing member of the Rheola Football Club.  Before going to war he did labouring work in around the Rheola area.

WW1 Service:
Harry was 24 when he enlisted in the AIF at Inglewood on the 4th of January 1915. He sailed from Sydney on the 25th June 1915 on board the HMAT A40 Ceramic, as Private 2230 with the 6th Reinforcements of the 5th Battalion.
He was taken on strength of the 5th Bn at Anzac on the 5/8/1915, just as they received orders regarding the attack on Lone Pine.  The entire 5th Bn was then withdrawn from Gallipoli on the 9/9/1915 and deposited on Lemnos for a rest.  They embarked once more for Anzac on the 24/10/1915, but Harry was soon back on Lemnos, where he was admitted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital on the 1/11/1915 with Tonsilitis and Diptheria.  He was transferred to the Sarpi Convalescent Depot 16/12/1915, then on the 24/12/1915 he rejoined his battalion who were also on Lemnos, following the evacuation of Gallipoli.  They eventually returned to Egypt on the HMT Empress of Britain, arriving Alexandria 7/1/1916.

The 5th Bn embarked at Alexandria 25/3/1916 on the HMT Briton to join the B.E.F., and disembarked Marseilles 30/3/1916.  Harry got himself into trouble on the 24/8/1916 when he refused to obey an order from an N.C.O. and also used insubordinate language towards him.  He received 7 days field punishment No.2 for his crime.  To Field Ambulance 5/11/1916 – rejoined his Unit 8/12/1916.

On Wednesday 25th of April 1917 Harry was killed instantly when an enemy shell landed in his trench at Lagnicourt, France.  He was originally buried just behind the front lines and an inscribed wooden cross placed on his grave.  With the end of the war his remains were exhumed by the Graves Registration Unit and reburied in the Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, Pas de Calais, France.  Grave Ref:  VII. B. 28.  At the time of his death Harry was a Signaller in the 11th Platoon, C Company, 5th Bn.


Inglewood Advertiser, 18/5/1915:
(From our Correspondent)
A large gathering of residents of Rheola and district assembled in Mrs McPherson's Hall on Tuesday evening of last week to do honor to Private W.H. Soulsby, of this town. Private Soulsby, who enlisted some few months ago, was allowed a few days' leave prior to leaving for the front, which he expects to do in the course of a very short time. ……………..
Previous to the supper being partaken of, Cr. J.J. O'Brien, J.P., was voted to the chair, and Private Soulsby and his parents were invited to take a seat on the platform. In making the presentation of a wristlet watch to the departing soldier, Cr. O'Brien expressed his pleasure at being present once again to say a few words of farewell to a young man of Private Soulsby's physique and courage, who was now going out to assist in the defence of the Empire, their flag and their homes. …………
Mr H.J. Jackson ……… He had known Private Soulsby for many years, and, like those who had assembled in his honor, he felt proud of him. ………
Mr Alan Brownhill also paid a tribute to the departing soldier, whose many sterling qualities he had always admired. ………
Mr T. Condon congratulated the guest on the manly spirit he had shown in offering his services in the Empire's cause. He felt sure he would give a good account of himself, and he hoped to have the privilege of being present to welcome him back very soon. (Cheers) ………..
Mr Lyle also referred to the many good qualities possessed by Private Soulsby.
Private Soulsby, in responding, received a great ovation. He thanked them all for their kindness and the flattering demonstration in his honor. He would always do his best and think kindly of the many friends he was leaving behind, and in saying farewell he hoped, when the war was over, to meet them all once again. (Loud cheers were given, and "For he's a jolly, good fellow," sang)
Mr Robert Soulsby also acknowledged the kindly references to himself and his wife, as well as to his son. In common with them all, he hoped to see nature's troubled night depart and the star of peace return. (Hear, hear)…………..

Inglewood Advertiser, 30/11/1915:
Mr and Mrs Soulsby, of Rheola, have received a letter from their son, Harry, who has been at the front for some time. The writer states that he, with Frank Yorath and L. Webb, also of Rheola, are all well, and are at present enjoying a rest at Lemnos Island.

Inglewood Advertiser, 15/5/1917:
In Honor’s Cause.
Mr and Mrs R. Soulsby, of Rheola, on Saturday last received the dread tidings that their son, Private W. H. Soulsby, is among the heroic Australians who have made the supreme sacrifice for his ma…?… sake on the fields of France, he having been killed in action on April 25th.
The deceased soldier, who was about 27 years of age, was well and favorably known throughout the district, his bright, attractive disposition winning him friends on all sides. He was a playing member of the Rheola Football Club, and entered freely into the life and doings of the district of interest to young men of his age. He enlisted early in the war and had seen much fighting, but previously had escaped injury.
In their great loss the bereaved parents and family are accorded the deep and heartfelt sympathy of many friends, who mourn with them the sad termination to such a bright and promising young life.

The Age (Melb, Vic), Wed 16 May 1917 (p.1):
SOULSBY – Killed in action, in France, on the 25th April, Pte. W.H. Soulsby (Harry), dearly loved son of Mr and Mrs R. Soulsby, of Rheola, loved brother of George, Robert, Bert, Jim, Ern, Alice, Ruby, and Elsie.
One of the best.

Inglewood Advertiser, 7/12/1917:
(From our Correspondent)
A very pleasing ceremony took place at St John’s Church last Sunday morning, when the Rev J.H. Carr, Rural Dean of Maryborough, unveiled the Honor Roll containing the names of members of the church who so willingly offered themselves to fight for King and country. The names, which had been beautifully inscribed by Mrs Whitworth, of Tarnagulla, are as under:-
Frank Yorath;  H. Soulsby (killed); Robert Catto; Robert Leach; John Catto; Louis Webb; Edward Webb; Menter Catto