William Russell Goodwin COLMAN MC

COLMAN, William Russell Goodwin

Service Numbers: 2552, 2252
Enlisted: 2 August 1915, Adelaide South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Woodville South Australia Australia, 10 April 1897
Home Town: Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College 1911-1914
Occupation: Student
Died: Natural Causes, 15 January 1966, aged 68 years, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, District of Upper Sturt Methodist Church Honour Board, Hackney St Peter's College Honour Board, Stirling Uniting Church Lych Gate, Woodville Saint Margaret's Anglican Church Lych Gate
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World War 1 Service

2 Aug 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2552, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
2 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2552, 27th Infantry Battalion, Adelaide South Australia Australia
27 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, SN 2552, 27th Infantry Battalion
4 Aug 1916: Involvement SN 2252, 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
25 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, SN 2552, 27th Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"
5 Jun 1919: Discharged AIF WW1


The details provided are taken from the book "Stealth Raiders - a few daring men in 1918" written by Lucas Jordan, published 2017, refer to page 264 and also to page 301 to gain details of the many mentions of this soldier. Prior to the war he was a mining engineering student of Adelaide SA. He enlisted 2nd Aug 1915 aged 18 years. He served with the 27th Infantry Battalion, earning the Military Medal during the service, and earning a promotion to Lieutenant. He survived the war, departing the UK for home 28th Feb 1919.


Awarded the Military Cross

Lieutenant William Russell Goodwin Colman

(During fighting near Villers Bretonneux 27 July 1918 – “Peaceful Penetration” offensive patrolling)

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. In broad daylight he led his men across the open, entered the enemy lines, and captured some 800 yards of trench, together with 20 prisoners, inflicting considerable losses on the enemy. The success of the operation was due to his courage and initiative.

Service record

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Colman William Russell Goodwin : SERN LIEUT 2552 : POB Woodville SA : POE Adelaide SA : NOK Father Mr  William Edward Colman 

Born at Woodville SA 

6th Reinforcements 27th Battalion

The author of the recently released 'fictionalised' autobiographical account "There and back with a Dinkum", Russell Colman began the Great War still at school at St Peter's College in Adelaide, aged 17.  In 1915, having entered university, he and many of his peers enlisted as soon as they turned 18 years old.

So began his transition from civilian to soldier so eloquently described in his book, beginning at Adelaide's Exhibition Grounds in and around North Adelaide.

He was allocated to the 6th reinforcements for the 27th Battalion.  The Battalion's main body had left Australia on 31 May 1915 aboard the HMAT Geelong.  Successive drafts followed.

The 27th Battalion landed at Gallipoli not long after Russell enlisted, and a number of reinforcement drafts (1-4) joined it prior to the evacuation.

Russell's group, the 6th reinforcements were to be spared Gallipoli, departing Australia on the 27th October 2015, on the HMAT Benalla.

They dropped anchor at Port Tewfik in Egypt near Suez on 20th November 1915, where they conducted further training, re-organised and paused as the AIF extracted from Gallipoli and returned to Egypt, where it underwent the "doubling of the AIF" exercise to raise five divisions for service in France. Some of the 6th Reinforcements, including Russell's best mate Geoerge Leaver, were transferred to other Battalions; in George's case the 10th Battalion.

The AIF then reconfigured for the move to Europe.  The 27th's 7th and 8th reinforcements had caught up and they were all merged and embarked for France aboard the Oriana on the 2nd March 1916.  The Middle East was to be left in the hands of the Light Horse. 

They disembarked in Marseilles and then entrained for northern France.  Russell's description of the jouney adds a dimension to this process not documented well elsewhere.

They had not at this stage been absorbed into the 27th Battalion.  They were  instead sent to the huge personnel depot at Etaples, for further training.  Here they encountered the legendary "Bull RIng" wherer they were schooled in  the realities of trench warfare Western Front style.

Grenades, gas training, Vickers and Lewis machine guns, field defences, bayonet fighting and rifle shooting were intensively trained.  Each day they marched past the hospital and the vast cemetery at Etaples, being left in no doubt that this was a conflict on an industrial scale rather than the adventure some might have imagined, and the casualties were of a commensurate scale.


More to follow......