Percival Ernest (Percy) WILLIAMS

Badge Number: 1984, Sub Branch: Murray Bridge
1984

WILLIAMS, Percival Ernest

Service Number: 1343
Enlisted: 28 November 1914
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Victoria, Australia, 8 September 1893
Home Town: Kapunda, Light, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Painter
Died: Natural Causes (old age), Murry Bridge South Australia, 5 October 1979, aged 86 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Ballarat Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

28 Nov 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1
2 Feb 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 1343, 16th Infantry Battalion
2 Feb 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 1343, 16th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Clan McGillivray, Melbourne
11 Nov 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 1343, 48th Infantry Battalion
4 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1

World War 2 Service

18 May 1942: Enlisted Mount Barker, SA

World War 1 Service

Date unknown: Wounded SN 1343, 48th Infantry Battalion

(Article from the ADELAIDE ADVERTISER JULY 16 1915)-Thrilling Experiences/Life or Death/Quiet Heroism and The Lancashire Lassies.

(Thrilling Experience's)

Private Percy Williams,

Who was shot in the leg and was taken to England, wrote to his brother in Kapunda from Flixton Institute, Convalescent Home, Lancashire, as under:-

" By the time you receive this letter very likely I will be in the firing line again.

We nearly went to the bottom of the sea coming to England in the Hospital ship Letitia. We ran into an Italian tramp steamer, and just about cut her in halves.

She sank in eight minutes, but all the crew were saved.

Our steamer had all her bow torn and shipped 20 feet of water, but we managed to get into Gibraltar, where the steamer was repaired.It happened in a heavy fog about two hours from Gibraltar.

It was an anxious time for some. But it troubled me nothing.The collision happened about half past two in the morning. I was awake at the time, but 10 minutes afterwards I was fast asleep.

I knew it was no use kicking up a panic about it. If she went down, she went down that was all.

I will tell you about my experiences. On Sunday April 25, at half past three in the morning we left the troopship and went on the destroyers, and made for the shore.

We got in close as we could in the destroyer, and several men got killed and other wounded from the terrible hail of shrapnel and machine gun bulllets. We transhipped into rowing boats and pulled for the shore, which was about a quarter of a mile away.

We could not get right in, and those who were left of us had to jump into the water, which was up to our necks, and wade ashore.

The boat we were in started with 56 men, and out of the 56 only five of us came out alive and I was one of the five. Talk about a storm of hailstones; it was nothing compared to it.

The chap who was sitting next to me in the boat had nine machinegun bullets through his head. Other boats had the same experience.

(Life or Death)

"Anyhow, the five of us joined the others who were along the beach. Daylight was just breaking, and the Turks on the side of the mountain were as thick as bees.

Then we made a fight for it. It was either go forward or else go back into the sea. So we fixed bayonets and away we went. You should have seen those devils run. We let out a roar that fairly shook the mountain's and valleys. I see now by the papers that they heard it on the battleships, five miles away.

It was terrible. Shells were whizzing in thousands. But not a second did we lose. Onward, up that terrible mountain side we went slipping and sliding in that life or death race. Our blood was on for revenge.

We chased them for about four miles killing hundreds of them, but we went too far and we had no one to back is up. The Turks came in on our flanks with machine guns and were cutting us off so we had to retire back a bit to get a good position and we did catch it and the shrapnel was bursting all around us.

Anyone would think I had been in a cock fight to see me. I was blood all over with bits from bits of shell, but I was too wild to feel them with my mates being shot or wounded.

After all, we got a good position on the top of the hill and entrenched. We stopped for eight days, firing away thousands of cartridges and getting thousands pelted back at us. One went through my cap and another through a tin of bully beef which I had in a bag hanging on my side.

(Quiet Heroism)

" Then the unlucky day came, Sunday May 2. Two companies of us had the order to charge a hill from where the Turks were playing great havoc among our men. There was Krummel, the footballer form Eudunda, with me at the time, but I lost him in the charge. I don't know whether he was shot or not.

We were winding our way up the side of this hill along a spring creek up to our knees in water. Then as soon as we got out into the open we did get it. As we left the creek we were plucked off like plucking feathers off a duck.

Our Lieutenant was shot in the leg and he sang out to me to bandage him. They give us a bandage and a pad of wadding when we go into action. I used up his bandage and half of my own. Then I picked up my rifle and set off up the hill again when plonk! head over heels I went rolling down the hill.

I did not think it was much at the time. I rolled on top of another poor chap with a bullet through his thigh. He had no bandage and I only had half a one. So I bound his leg up with my bandage and tied my handkerchief around my own.

It was between 11 and 12 o'clock when I got hit and I sat there for two hours. You should have heard the lads. They were up the hill singing 'Tipperary,' but down where I was there was groaning f the wounded. I got sick of it so thought I would make a bit for further on.

So I half crawled and half walked and got trough to the beach all right, and was taken on board the Dongala. Next day they told me they had three bayonet charges before they took that hill.

They rallied D and B Companies next morning and in my Company there were 26 left and out of B there were 37. That will give you some idea what it was like.

(The Lancashire Lassies)

" I am having a grand time in the Old Country. We got off the boat at Southhampton after being in bed nearly three weeks and got into a Red Cross train and went straight to Manchester. I was in the hospital for two days and then I was sent out to Flixton to the Convalescent Home.

There are 36 or us here-four Australians and the rest, Tommies. The New Zealand wounded who came with us went to Birmingham. Flixton is in Lancashire and you can see the lassies going to work in the mornings with clogs and shawls on just as you read about them.

I am out walking nearly all day. It is a pretty country and the people are so nice. They are the prettiest girls I have ever seen, and they do make a fuss of us. We are taken for motor trips two or three times a week and are treated like kings.

I had a run in a 200 yards race with the men the other day and came second, so my leg is all right."

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Biography

1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal