William James BANKS

BANKS, William James

Service Number: 1705
Enlisted: 29 December 1914
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Shepparton, Victoria, 1893
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School
Occupation: Grocer
Died: Coronary occlusion, Burwood, Victoria, 1959
Cemetery: Burwood General Cemetery
Memorials: Violet Town Honour Roll, Violet Town Primary School Honour Roll, Violet Town Uniting Church Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

29 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 1705
29 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 1705
10 Apr 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1705, 2nd Infantry Battalion
10 Apr 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1705, 2nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney

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Biography contributed by Elsa Reuter

BANKS William James 1705  CPL
2nd Battalion
1893-1959 

William’s parents, farmer Albert Henry Banks (1860) and his wife Annie (née) Keagle had four daughters before Bill (as he was known) was born in 1894. They were Jessie (1888), Annie (1890), Christina (1892) and Letitia (1893).  Then after Bill was born  there was another daughter, Mary Aileen (1901).

Bill’s birthplace is listed as Shepparton on his WW1 service records. The family must have moved to Violet Town as Bill’s name is recorded on the Violet Town State School’s WW1 Honour Board. He was working at West’s grocery in Cowslip Street when he enlisted in Melbourne on 29 December 1914. 

There was preliminary training to turn men from all walks of life into soldiers before they embarked.   Bill embarked on HMAT Argyllshire on 29 December 1914.  The destination was Egypt for further training. Here he joined the 2nd Battalion which took part in the second and third waves of the landing on Gallipoli on 25th April. The 2nd Battalion took part in the Battle at Lone Pine between 6 and 10 August as part of the August Offensive.  During this battle Bill suffered a bomb wound to his left leg. After first aid at a beach dressing station he was transferred to 3rd AGH at Mudros and then per HS Orsova to 2 AGH at Ghezireh in September. Two months later he was discharged for light duties. However his wounded leg became infected and he had to return to hospital for treatment. By 21 January 1916 his leg was healed enough for him to return to his unit. 

In March 1916 Bill embarked from Alexandria for Marseilles; thence to England in July where he had further training for a month. From there he was sent overseas to France to re-join the 2nd Battalion which was engaged in hostilities at Ypres. He was wounded for the second time with a gunshot wound to his left foot. For this he was hospitalised until middle December when he was declared fit enough to re-join his unit. He was wounded a third time on 20 June with  penetrating wounds to back, chest and right arm. On 7 August he embarked for England and eventually was admitted to the 1st AGH at Harefield. The following February he left England for Australia and was discharged in Melbourne on 12 April 1919. He had been at the war for over four years.

Bill returned to his old employment in Violet Town.  In 1925 he married Ivy Rosina Payne and moved to Melbourne, living in Richmond and Burwood until retiring in 1939.   He died in 1959 from a coronary occlusion and was buried at Burwood Cemetery.  Ivy died in 1966 and is buried next to Bill. A headstone inscription gives touching evidence of their son Billie and ‘Nana’s’ granddaughters, Debbie and Kathie.

Bill’s memorial tree was planted in 1918 but there is no evidence of which street or which tree.  Brachychiton acerifolius – Illawarra Flame Tree – was used in the 1917 Memorial Avenue planting and there are other Flame trees dotted around the town. However there is a copper plaque with Bill’s name affixed to the exterior wall of the Memorial Hall similar to those identifying trees in the 1918 planting. These plaques are still turning up from time to time.

There are memorials at the Violet Town State School

St Andrew’s Presbyterian  church

Main Honour Board in the Memorial Hall, Violet Town

Copper plaque affixed to the external wall of Memorial Hall, Violet Town

Bill’s war medals –  1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal were sent to his father in 1921.

 

©2018 Sheila Burnell

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