Clarence Eldred COLWILL


COLWILL, Clarence Eldred

Service Number: 3058
Enlisted: 19 July 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Magill, South Australia, 1897
Home Town: Magill, Campbelltown, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Railway Porter
Died: Killed in Action, Villers-Bretonneux, France, 25 April 1918
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux
Plot III Row G Grave No.15
Tree Plaque: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide South Australian Railways WW1 & WW2 Honour Boards, Adelaide The 50th Battalion Commemorative Cross, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Magill Honour Board, Magill War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

19 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
14 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3058, 10th Infantry Battalion
14 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3058, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Adelaide
4 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 50th Infantry Battalion
25 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3058, 50th Infantry Battalion
Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

Help us honour Clarence Eldred Colwill's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.


Son of Mr John and Mrs Annie (nee Cowan) Colwill of Brougham Street, in Magill, Clarence Eldred Colwill was a single, 18-year-old railway porter for Railways SA, before he enlisted for the Australian Imperial Force on the 19th of July in 1915.


Politically, at the time, the Kaiser (German King) had invaded neighbouring countries in Europe, and as Australia were apart of the Commonwealth, they fought with the British in World War I.


When Clarence enlisted, he was assigned to the 10th Infantry Battalion as a private, the lowest rank of soldier in the AIF. The unit embarked from Adelaide on the HMAT Ballarat A70 on the 14th of September 1915. They landed at Mudros, a Greek Island on the 27th of November 1915 and then were transferred to Alexandria, Egypt via the HMAT Seeang Bee A48 for training.


He was trained in the sandy and hot Alexandria for about three months by the commanders of the 9th, 10th and 11th Battalions. On the 4th of March in 1916, Private Colwill was transferred to the 50th Battalion after the expansion of the AIF. He trained with the 50th Battalion for three months.


The 50th Battalion was called for service on the Western Front on the 3rd of June 1916. They were taken on the SS Arcadian to Marseilles, France and landed on the 12th of June. Landing in the south, they would work their way up the French countryside approximately 700km to Le Mans, where they would need to provide reinforcements for the British Expeditionary Force.


On the 15th of November 1916, Clarence Colwill was wounded in action, but remained at duty. After re-joining the battalion, Private Colwill was Absent Without Leave, which meant he thought war was bad enough to leave his post and abandon his superiors. He was apprehended by Military Police on the 26th of February 1917 and was penalised 38 days of pay, which for a private, was 190 shillings.


Clarence Colwill was then taken back to the 50th Battalion to fight in the field for another 5 months before falling sick to Influenza. Colwill was taken to an ANZAC hospital in Rouen, France, and stayed in hospital until the 13th of April 1917. He then returned to his post on the 16th of April 1917.


On the 24th of April 1918, the AIF’s 13th, 14th and 15th Brigades fought for the British Empire, with the French, in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Private Colwill fought in this battle for the 50th Battalion, which was apart of the 13th Brigade.


The result of the battle was an allied victory, but the Australian brigades had suffered 2,473 casualties in the process. Private Colwill was killed in action on the 25th of April 1918 during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.


Private Colwill was buried one mile south south west of Villers-Bretonneux and once the war was over, he was re-buried in the Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux.


From the three medals that his family received after the war (1914-15 Star Medal, British Victory Medal and The Victory Medal), it was evident that Colwill showed courage, mateship, discipline and initiative during his time fighting for his nation in the Great War. It is was also evident that because Private Colwill recieved these medals. This showed the ANZAC Spirit as it's best as he died for his counrty.



National Archives of Australia 1998, Colwill, Clarence Eldred: Documents and File Papers, Australian Government, accessed 1 April 2016, <>.


The AIF Project n.d., Clarence Eldred COLWILL, University of New South Wales, accessed 1 April 2016, <>.


Home - AWM 2016, Australian War Memorial, accessed 1 April 2016, <>.


World War I Pictorial Honour Roll of South Australians 2016, SA Grave Secrets, accessed 1 April 2016, <>.