Clarence John WILLIAMS

Badge Number: S1643, Sub Branch: Booborowie

WILLIAMS, Clarence John

Service Number: 4632
Enlisted: 30 August 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Burra, South Australia , 12 May 1897
Home Town: Burra, Goyder, South Australia
Schooling: Leighton Public School
Occupation: Farmer
Memorials: Booborowie Leighton School WW1 Roll of Honor, Booborowie Leighton WW1 Roll of Honor, Burra District WW1 Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

30 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
7 Feb 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4632, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Feb 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4632, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Miltiades, Adelaide
Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

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Raid on Celtic Wood 

4632 Private Clarence John Williams a farmer from Kooringa, South Australia was in the field with C Company and recorded on the 13 October Field Return as wounded on 7 October. Because he rejoined the battalion from UK leave on 2 October and could only have come up with reinforcements during the night of 8 October, it was not possible for him to be wounded in action on 7 October as recorded. 

On 9 October, he was treated at 64th Field Ambulance for ‘Shrap Ws Jaw’ and the following day was transported to 3rd Canadian General Hospital. He was evacuated to England and treated for ‘SW Rt Thigh (slt) and ‘GSW Rt Jaw.’


Included in his memoirs written 62 years after the war Clarence Williams wrote the following under his heading ‘The Lost Patrol’.

‘At midnight October 8th, 1917 85 of us and five officers were told that at dawn we were to raid the German Line opposite to us. We were to get some prisoners and kill as many Germans as possible. We were instructed by Lieut. Scott who was to lead the raiding party that if he blew his whistle  twice we were to return to our own lines  At dawn we moved off on schedule about 3 yards apart, The Germans immediately opened fire with mostly machine guns. We had gone about 80 yards when my mate yelled out to me that he was hit. I slipped across to him and helped bandage his own leg.’ [i]

Private Williams having successfully helped his wounded comrade told him to go back to their front line where he would be treated at the battalion aid post by the Doctor. Williams told the man he had done all he could had to go on with the raiding party.

 It is unknown who the wounded man was or if he ever made it back to the battalion front line.

‘The Germans by now thought we were attacking and put down a heavy barrage on us; especially shrapnel.’[ii]

  So the Germans were deceived and diverted some of their artillery fire away from those conducting the main attack further up Broodeseinde Ridge; the purpose of the raid was achieved!

‘Men had disappeared all around me. I could see the Jerries in a trench about 60 yards away. I did not carry a rifle. Had 5 Mills grenades in my pockets, one in my hand with the pin out. Just at that moment Lieut Scott and a small party appeared. Scott blew his whistle twice which was the order to retire.’  [iii]

Private Williams never saw Lieutenant Scott again but in an effort to keep the German’s heads down threw a grenade albeit he realised they were out of throwing range, he thought it might create an opportunity to break contact and return to the battalion’s front line.  

‘I had got about half way back, when I received a bullet through the face and neck. I took cover in a large shell; a couple of the unwounded of the raiding party were there, they tied up my wound best they could and stopped the bleeding considerably. We then made our way back to our front line; but on the way back I received another wound in the back.’ [iv]

 Fortunately, Williams and his rescuers made it back to the “dressing station in a deep dugout in the front line” where he was treated before being evacuated back to Ypres and then to England. 

Returned to Australia in March 1918.

[i] Williams, C J – `Six Bob a day tourist – a true story – from enlistment to discharge.’ – P.6 - 7, courtesy relative Mr Peter Lloyd  
[ii] ibid, P7
[iii] ibid
[iv] ibid