William Roy BRIGGS

BRIGGS, William Roy

Service Number: 1855
Enlisted: 31 December 1914, 5th Reinforcements
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Broughton, South Australia, 1896
Home Town: Port Broughton, Barunga West, South Australia
Schooling: Public School, Port Broughton, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 4 October 1917
Cemetery: Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ypres
Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Ypres, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Maitland War Memorial, Port Broughton War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

31 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 1855, 10th Infantry Battalion, 5th Reinforcements
20 Apr 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 1855, 10th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Hororata embarkation_ship_number: A20 public_note: ''
8 Jul 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1855, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
12 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 50th Infantry Battalion
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1855, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 1855 awm_unit: 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1917-10-04

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Biography contributed by tony griffin

William Briggs was the son of William and Priscilla Ruth Briggs of Port Broughton.  William was born at Port Broughton in 1896. A farmer, he was 19 years old when, armed with a letter of consent signed by both parents, he enlisted on 31 December 1914.

Willam was appointed to 5 Reinforcements/10 Battalion that embarked from Adelaide on 20 April 1915 aboard HMAT A20 Hororata. After landing at Gallipoli he was taken on strength of 10 Battalion on 8 July 1915. William must have had trouble adjusting to military life for he was twice punished for breaches of military discipline on Gallipoli Peninsula. For “reporting sick without cause” he was awarded 14 days field punishment and for “not complying with an order” he was awarded 3 days field punishment.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli William returned to Egypt where he was transferred to 50 Battalion and again was in trouble after going AWOL. For this demeanour he forfeited 2 days pay. On 6 June 1916 50 Battalion embarked for England and further training. Again William went AWOL. On the first occasion, for overstaying his pass, he forfeited 3 days pay and for the second occasion he was awarded 168 hours detention and forfeited 6 days pay.

William proceeded overseas to France where, on 9 October 1916 he was taken on strength of 32 Battalion in the field. After Christmas of that year he was detached for a week’s training at the Division Pigeon School. In February 1917 William was diagnosed with haemoptysis and invalided to hospital in England. Snubbing his nose at the military William continued to go AWOL. On the first occasion he was awarded 14 days field punishment and forfeited 20 days pay and for the second he forfeited 9 days pay. For “smoking on duty as a sentry” he received 4 days confined to camp. Unfortunately for William he contracted VD while in England and his stay was extended.

William finally rejoined 32 Battalion in France on 6 September 1917 and was attached as a carrier to 8 Machine Gun Company. On 11 October he was killed in action near Zonnebek where 32 Battalion was in the front line opposite Celtic Wood.

The 8 Machine Gun Coy diary for that day reads: “Early morning shelling consistent. 5.45am Artillery opened up – Enemy retaliation slight. 7am & 9am Guns positions (2) blown in. Casualties 4 OR’s killed 4 Ammunition boxes destroyed. Enemy planes flying low between 9.10am & 10am. Enemy snipers and artillery active. Gas shells falling in rear from 7 to 7.30pm. CO wounded.”

William was initially buried in a trench near Muhle Farm but after the war his body was exhumed and he now rests in Perth China Wall Cemetery in Belgium. Plot 3 Row K Grave 19