James Henry (Poddy) WILLIAMS


WILLIAMS, James Henry

Service Number: 2036
Enlisted: 20 February 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Long Gully, Victoria, Australia , 1894
Home Town: Broken Hill, Broken Hill Municipality, New South Wales
Schooling: Central School, Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Miner (Sailor gang)
Died: Died of wounds, Belgium, 10 September 1916
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Grave Reference IX D 19, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Lijssenthoek, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

20 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 10th Infantry Battalion, Keswick, South Australia
20 Apr 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2036, 10th Infantry Battalion
20 Apr 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2036, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Adelaide
21 Sep 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2036, 10th Infantry Battalion
21 Sep 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2036, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Star of England, Adelaide

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Biography contributed by Larna Malone

James Henry WILLIAMS was born in 1894 in Long Gully, near Bendigo, Victoria, the son of William WILLIAMS  and Betsy Ann ALLEN.   He was the 6th born child in a family of 11 children, 3 of whom died in infancy.   Of the surviving children, James William had 1 brother and 6 sisters.

His father, William WILLIAMS, was a Miner who worked for Gold in Long Gully, Vic, and Silver in Broken Hill, NSW. Over the years the family moved back and forth between Long Gully and Broken Hill.

James Henry WILLIAMS started work in the mines in Broken Hill, working on the Sailor Gang.  (The Sailor Gang had the task of pumping the water out of the mines when the miners were not working.)   His father died in 1912, and, his elder brother having married, James Henry became the sole financial support of his mother and un-married sisters.

James Henry was known as "Poddy" from his habit of obtaining beer money by betting that he could lift a cow.   He would then go outside and lift a poddy calf i.e. a young, hand-fed cow.

At the age of 18 he joined the 82nd Barrier Infantry, attending Parades one night each week and on a specified number of Saturdays. 

On January 12, 1915, his mother, Betsy Ann Williams, signed her consent to the enlistment of her son.   As James Henry was under the age of 21 parental consent was required.   James Henry volunteered in Broken Hill and was sent to SA as Broken Hill was included in the SA Military District.

James Henry arrived at Oaklands, SA, on January 14th, 1915.   He was sent to the Base Depot at Keswick and signed the official Enlistment Papers on February 18th.   He Attested on 20th February, 1915. 

He was sent to Morphettville Camp, where he was appointed to the 5th Reinforcements for the 10th Battalion, with Service No. 2036.    He was 20 years & 11 months old, and was variously described as being 5' 4 1/2" or 5' 6" tall, with Grey or brown eyes, and fair or brown hair.   He arranged for an allotment of 1/6 per day to be paid to his mother from his Service Pay.

Following his enlistment his mother and remaining un-married sisters moved to Footscray in Victoria in order to be closer to other family members.

On 6th March, 1915, James Henry WILLIAMS was promoted to Corporal.   The 5th Reinforcements/10th Battalion Embarked for service overseas on 20th April, but for some reason unknown James Henry WILLIAMS did not accompany them.   He was transferred to the 9th Reinforcements/10th Battalion on 1st July at Mitcham Camp. 

During the month of August he was AWL on two occasions.   According to the Charge Sheets his general character was reported as "good".   He was absent for two days (6-7th August), and for 14 days (18th-31st August).   On the second occasion he was reduced to Private.   He was again AWL from 6-9th September.

On 21st September, 1915, James Henry WILLIAMS Embarked for service abroad, per HMAT A15 "Star of England."   The 9th Reinforcements landed at Mudros, Lemnos Island, on 22nd November, 1915, and were added to the Strength of the 10th Battalion.   The 10th Battalion had left Anzac on 21st November after serving on the Peninsula since the initial Landing on 25th April.

The 10th Battalion left the Island of Lemnos on 26th December, 1915, and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, on 29th December.   The Battalion spent the month of January, 1916, in Tel-el-Kebir, resting, re-organising and training.   James Henry WILLIAMS spent January-April in hospital, suffering from conditions which included Jaundice and a Septic Throat.

On 29th May, 1916, James Henry WILLIAMS Embarked to join the 10th Battalion in France.   He reported at 1st Division Base Depot, Etaples, on 4th June.   Whilst at the Depot he was AWL on two occasions.   He was admonished for missing 6.30 Parade on 5th July, but was awarded 4 days CC and loss of a day's pay for being Absent from 2pm to 9.15pm on 14th July.

He left the Base Depot on 26th July, 1916, and joined the 10th Battalion on 30th July.   At this time the battalion was enjoying a 3 week spell after particiption in the 1st Battle of Pozieres (22-25 July, 1916).   During this battle the battalion had suistained 350 casulaties.

The 10th Battalion returned to the trenches to participate in the 2nd Battle of Pozieres, Mouquet Farm (19 - 23 August, 1916).   Relieved from the trenches, the battalion Entrained for Proven, in Belgium.   This was a quiet sector and the battalion again enjoyed a brief spell.

On 1st september, 1916, the battalion entered Kenora camp , near Poperinghe, Belgium.   They marched to Ottawa Camp on the following day.

On 8th September, 1916, James Henry WILLIAMS was severely wounded in a bomb accident and sustained multiple GSW.   He was sent to No 10 C.C. Station, close behind the extreme range of enemy shell-fire.  He Died of Wounds on 10th September, 1916, and was Buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium.   Grave Reference IX  D  19.

The Inscription on his Gravestone reads:

                 TOO FAR AWAY

                YOUR GRAVE TO SEE

                BUT NOT TOO FAR

                TO THINK OF THEE

He was 22 years of age.

His personal effects were later returned to his mother.   These comprised: Belt and Badges, Disc, Metal Cigarette case, Shaving Brush, Clasp Knives (2), Razor, Cigarette holder. Pocket book and 60 centimes.