William Henry (Bill) COWPER

COWPER, William Henry

Service Numbers: 2280, Commissioned Officer, S70081
Enlisted: 22 March 1916
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 3rd (SA) Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC)
Born: Hoxton Old Town London England, 8 December 1892
Home Town: Broken Hill, Broken Hill Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Accountant
Died: Result of Motor vehicle Accident, Kingswood South Australia, 17 March 1977, aged 84 years
Cemetery: Enfield Memorial Park, South Australia
Memorials: Broken Hill Barrier District Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

22 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2280, Mining Corps
18 Sep 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2280, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '5' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Karroo embarkation_ship_number: A10 public_note: ''
7 Jun 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2280, Army Training Units
5 Mar 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918
26 May 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN 2280, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front", Gas casualty - mild. Necessitating evacuation
25 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
19 Nov 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Appointment terminated per service record

World War 2 Service

26 Mar 1942: Involvement Lieutenant, SN S70081, 3rd (SA) Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC), Homeland Defence - Militia and non deployed forces
26 Mar 1942: Enlisted Lieutenant, SN S70081, 3rd (SA) Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC), Adelaide, SA
26 Mar 1942: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, SN S70081
31 Aug 1944: Discharged Lieutenant, SN S70081, 3rd (SA) Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC)

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

William Henry Cowper was born in London, England on 8 September 1892.

He served with the Royal Engineers in the UK before emigrating to Australia.  By the time WW1 had broken out the family had settled in Broken Hill, whence William, by that time a clerk, enlisted on 6 March 1916.

Even though Broken Hill is geographically and politically part of New South Wales, militarily it has, since Federation, been affiliated with South Australia and the 4th Military District.  So recruits from Broken Hill were generally enlisted processed and often embarked from Adelaide.

On enlistment he was assigned to the 'Mining Reinforcements' - a branch of the Engineers specialing in underground warafare and heavily populated with solider from 'hard rock mining' districts in Australia such as Broken Hill (NSW)  Kalgoorlie  (WA) and Charters Towers (Qld).  

William apparently made a good impression and stood out among his peers, for  by the time he embarked in September 1916 he had been promoted Lance Corporal Corporal and Sergeant whilst undergoing training at Seymour in Victoria. 

As was the practice, he was reduced to the rank of Private during the course of further thraining in the UK, but quickly made up lost time as he progressed. 

He was due to be assigned back to the 3rd Pioneers but was selected for and sent to Cambridge and the 5th Officer Training Battalion.  He was appointed as a Second Lieutenant on 5 February 1918 and assigned to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion, part of the 3rd Division commanded by Major General John Monash where he was taken on strength one month later just as the great German Spring Offensive broke across the Allied Front.

He was wounded in late May as a result of a gas attack.  He recuperated in France and England and rejoined his unit in July 1918.  He was sent to Le Touquet on the Fench coast to Lewis Gun school in late September. 

Shortly thereafter (2 Nov 19) he was selected for and sent to Flyng Training as a trainee pilot.  However despite continuing with training into 1919 he did not qualify as a pilot before demobilstaion processes began.  He completed an Air Navigation course on 24 J uly 1919. He returned to Australia after a staff assignment in August 1919.

His appointment was terminated on 19 November 1919 at Keswick Barracks Adelaide.   He returned to Broken Hill where his medals were sent in 1922.

He enlisted for service in the Army Reserve in WW2 and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps.  He discharged on 31 August 1944 as the VDC was scaled down after it had become apparent that the threat of invasion by the Japanese had receded. 

After the war he lived for many years in Kingswood,  an inner southern suburb of Adelaide.  He practiced as an accountant.

William Cowper died as a result of a car accident, aged 85, on 17 March 1977 and is buried at Enfied Cemetery.