William (Snowy) PEGLER


PEGLER, William

Service Number: 2865
Enlisted: 20 May 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 40th Infantry Battalion
Born: Uxbridge, Tasmania, July 1894
Home Town: Uxbridge, Derwent Valley, Tasmania
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: KIA while advancing, SW to stomach, near Zonnebeke, Battle of Broodsiende, Belgium, 4 October 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 25), Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

20 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2865, 40th Infantry Battalion
6 Dec 1916: Involvement Private, SN 2865, 40th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
6 Dec 1916: Embarked Private, SN 2865, 40th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Orsova, Melbourne

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

Biography contributed by Graves Christopher Charles

Private William Pegler 2685

Private William Pegler fought in the 6th Reinforcements, 40th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in World War One.[1]

William was born and raised in Uxbridge which is a town near New Norfolk in Tasmania and worked on the family farm. He lived with his Mother Margaret, his Sisters Mary (Dolly), Esther, Martha (Marie), Vera and Phillis, and his Brother George (my Great-Grandfather). His Father Charles had died in 1912 and his elder Brother, also named Charles, had been killed in a farming accident in 1914. William played football and cricket for his local teams and was known by the nickname of ‘Snowy’ because of his fair hair.

William enlisted on the 18th of April 1916, which is close to the 1st anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli and this may have been a motivation to enlist. He reported for duty at Claremont, Tasmania on the 20th of May 1916 and began training.[2] He was accepted to fight in the 6th reinforcements of the 40th Battalion. William was around 6-foot-tall and weighed 168 pounds at the time of his enlistment. In his enlistment form he stated that he was 21 years and 11 months of age. [3]

William left Tasmania on the 4th of December 1916. Prior to leaving Tasmania, a farewell social was held in his honour by the residents of Moogara and Uxbridge. At this event, he was presented with a wristwatch.[4]

William and his fellow soldiers sailed from Melbourne to Plymouth, England on the ship HMAT (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) A67 Orsova on the 6th of December 1916. On the way the ship docked in Cape Town, South Africa in January 1917.[5]

William arrived in Plymouth on the 17th of February 1917 and was transferred to the military camp at Sutton Mandeville.[6] On the 5th of May 1917 he was admitted to the Parkhouse Hospital suffering from mumps.[7] Many soldiers in World War One suffered from mumps which was a communicable disease.[8]

On the 6th of August 1917 William left England for France, arriving at the Port of Le Havre on the 11th of August 1917. He met up with the 40th Battalion on the 24th of August 1917.

William’s Mother Margaret applied for a separation allowance in July 1917 because she and her two children under the age of 16 (George and Phillis) were in financial trouble and required assistance. They were in financial trouble because William was the only child able to work on the farm and earn money. In this application, Margaret states that William:

was anxious to enlist when war broke out but being so young I objected – eventually without my knowledge he came to town and offered himself giving a false age he being then only 19 – knowing he had made this misrepresentation I would not interfere but it has left me in the unfortunate position of only having his small allowance of 3/- to support myself and two young children under 16.[9]

William and his Battalion then moved to Belgium where they fought in the third battle of Ypres which took place between the 31st of July and the 10th of November 1917. This battle was fought between the Allied forces and the Germans. It was important that the Allies won this battle as they would push the Germans back and destroy the Germans’ submarine base on the north coast of Belgium. If they lost Ypres the Germans would have access to the English Channel which would lead to an invasion of England.[10]

On the 4th of October 1917, the 40th Battalion were attacking the German lines near Zonnebeke. William Pegler was announced MIA (Missing in Action) on the 5th of October 1917. The Red Cross conducted an investigation into whether he had been killed or was just missing. This involved asking soldiers who served with him for statements on what they thought happened to him. One of these statements, provided by Private Oakley from the 40th Battalion stated that:

On the morning 4.10.17 we made an attack on the German lines near Zonnebeke during which attack I noticed Pte Pegler’s body lying out in the open near the first line of trenches previously occupied by the Germans. I am unable to say definitely but presume that he was then dead and had been killed instantaneously.[11]

Another statement made by Private Saunders states that:

I saw him lying dead in a shell hole at Passchendaele Ridge. I am sure it was him, as I knew him very well. We came from Tasmania together on the “Orsova”. He came from Macquarie Plains.[12]

After the investigation had finished William was confirmed to have been killed on the 4th of October 1917. He was killed when he was hit by a shell while running out from an Allied trench and into a trench previously occupied by Germans.

The shell that killed William was most likely fired by a cannon or a mortar which were both common artillery weapons used in World War One.[13]

Having finally received news of William’s death, Margaret applied for a War Gratuity. A War Gratuity is a one off payment that the government granted to returning veterans or families of a soldier who had been killed in the war.[14] In 1920 Margaret received £70 5s 6d which would roughly amount to $4,732.20 in 2016.[15]

On the 20th of May 1921 William was posthumously awarded a British War Medal and a Victory Medal.[16]

William’s body has never been found but his name is recorded on the wall of the Menin Gate War Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.[17] His name is also located on the Roll of Honour in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial.[18]




[1] NAA: B2455, Pegler William, Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad, p.1
[2] The Mercury, (Hobart, Tas.:1860-1954), Tuesday 23 May 1916, p.5
[3] NAA: B2455, Pegler William Attestation Paper of Persons Enlisted for Service Abroad, p.3
[4] The Mercury, (Hobart, Tas.:1860-1954), 21 July 1916, p.5
[5] The Mercury, (Hobart, Tas.:1860-1954), 23 March 1917, p.6
[6] Australian Soldiers in the UK in WW1 2014, accessed 21 March 2017, <http://fascinatingfactsofww1.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/australian-soldiers-in-uk-in-ww1.html>.
[7] NAA: B2455, Pegler William, Casualty Form-Active Service, Service Records, pp. 11, 19
[8] Afflictions suffered by soldiers during WWI 2014, accessed 21 March 2017, <http://www.centenaryww1orange.com.au/uncategorized/afflictions-suffered-by-soldiers-during-wwi/>.
[9] NAA: P1868, Pegler W T6582,  Letter from Margaret Pegler to the Chief Pay Officer, 27 July 1917
[10] Third Battle of Ypres n.d., accessed 21 March 2017, <https://www.awm.gov.au/military-event/E104/>.
[11] NAA: B2455, Pegler William, Statement made by No.2620 Pte Oakley R. 40th Btn, 27 March 1918
[12] NAA: B2455, Pegler William, Statement made by No.2878 Pte Saunders T.S. 40th Btn, 17 February 1918
[13] Weapons of World War One 2014, accessed 21 March 2017, <http://alphahistory.com/worldwar1/weapons/>.
[14] War Gratuities n.d., accessed 21 March 2017, <http://guides.naa.gov.au/records-about-south-australia/chapter19/19.5.aspx>.
[15] NAA: P1868, Pegler W T6582, War Gratuity Payment 19 October 1920

Pre-Decimal Inflation Calculator 2016, accessed 21 March 2017, <http://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/annualPreDecimal.html>.
[16] NAA: B2455, Pegler William, 20 May 1921
[17] Photograph of the Final Resting Place of Pegler, William n.d., accessed 21 March 2017, <https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3735964>.
[18] Roll of Honour: William Pegler n.d., accessed 21 March 2017, <https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1656713/>.