William Henry (Sonny) DELLER

DELLER, William Henry

Service Numbers: 3266, Q61066
Enlisted: 28 December 1915
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: Australian Mounted Divisional Train
Born: Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, 3 September 1887
Home Town: Toowoomba, Toowoomba, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Saddle, harness, collar maker & boot repairer
Died: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 11 March 1963, aged 75 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Toowong (Brisbane General) Cemetery
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World War 1 Service

28 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Trooper, SN 3266, 7th Light Horse Regiment
1 May 1916: Discharged AIF WW1, Captain
9 Jan 1917: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3266, 7th Light Horse Regiment
16 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Trooper, 7th Light Horse Regiment
10 May 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3266, 7th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Boorara, Melbourne
10 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3266, 7th Light Horse Regiment
26 Jul 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Trooper, Australian Mounted Division
7 Dec 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Driver, Australian Mounted Division
5 Jun 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Driver, Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division
30 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Driver, SN 3266, Australian Mounted Divisional Train

World War 2 Service

30 Sep 1940: Involvement Lance Corporal, SN Q61066
30 Sep 1940: Enlisted
30 Sep 1940: Enlisted 2nd AIF WW 2, SN Q61066, Rank: Private, AIF, WW2 Unit: 1st Australian Auxiliary Horse Transport Company
31 Mar 1944: Discharged 2nd AIF WW 2, SN Q61066, Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: 1st Australian Auxiliary Horse Transport Company
31 Mar 1944: Discharged

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Biography contributed by Sue Smith

William Henry Deller was born the eldest child of William and Elizabeth Deller in Toowoomba, QLD, on three different dates apparently!!!  His service records state that he was born on the 4th September 1888, the family records state that he was born on 3rd September 1887 and the QLD Births, Deaths & Marriages Registry have him being born on the 4th September 1886.  So, for the purpose of this biography, I’m going with the family record. 

He went by the nickname of “Sonny” and he had 3 brothers and 3 sisters…George, Jessie, Walter, Charles, Elsie and Mary.  He did his apprenticeship as a saddler, harness and collar maker with the Stumlile Brothers in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. 

Sonny had a beautiful singing voice and often sang at functions around the Valley.  A young lady by the name of Leah Layton played the piano for him.  They had met in the garden of her mother’s Guesthouse at Bowen Hills, Brisbane.  The friendship blossomed to a romance and on the 14th October 1911 they were married at the Joyful News Mission House in Fortitude Valley.  Five children were born between 1912 and 1928…Mavis, Roy, Gregory, Jean (deceased) and Margaret.  The family lived in Brisbane initially then moved to Sydney where Sonny enlisted for WW1 in the AIF at the Sydney Town Hall on the 18th December 1915 aged 28.  His service number was 3266, his unit was the 7th Light Horse Regiment and his rank was Trooper.  In his service records he’s described as being 5ft 5inches tall, blue eyes, with brown hair and a fair complexion.  

On the 1st April 1916, Sonny was promoted to Corporal then a month later he was discharged at his wife’s request.  He did 8 months home service at Menangle Park Camp in Sydney NSW before being discharged to rejoin the AIF.  His second enlistment took place at Menangle Park on the 9th January 1917.  He retained his service number, remained with the 7th Light Horse with the 26th Reinforcements and his rank was Lance Sergeant.  He spent a month at Milson Island NSW in preparation for service overseas and while there he was promoted to Trooper.

Sonny embarked from Melbourne on the HMAT Boorara on the 10th May 1917 and disembarked at Suez, Egypt, on the 20th June.  The unit went straight to the isolation camp at Moascar then 2 weeks later to the Australian Army Service Corps Training depot at Moascar.  In late October he was posted to the 37th Army Service Corps Company, Australian Mounted Division at Maadi Camp, and in early December was promoted to driver.  In May 1918, a little matter of him wearing shorts while mounted saw him disciplined for disobeying an order and confined to barracks for 7 days.  A few weeks later Sonny was attached to the 32nd Army Service Corps Company, Anzac Mounted Division, at Zeitoun Camp and his rank to temporary Saddler Corporal.  In mid June 1918 he went to hospital and 3 months later was transferred to the Rest Home at Jerusalem suffering from malaria.  His rank reverted to driver and in late October 1918 he was transferred briefly to the 47th General Hospital at Gaza then to the 24th Stationary Hospital at Kantara.  In early December 1918 he was transferred to the Rest Camp at Port Said a few days later rejoined his unit at Moascar.  In mid December he was attached to the Stores depot at Ghezireh in Cairo for 3 weeks then rejoined his unit.  In early April 1919 he was admitted to the 44th Stationary Hospital with influenza and malaria then moved to the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbrassia at the end of April.  A week later he was transferred to the Rest Camp at Port Said.  Sonny was deemed medically unfit and embarked from Suez on the HMAT Dunlace Castle for return to Australia on the 17th July 1919.  He disembarked at Sydney on the 30th August and a month later was discharged in Brisabne on the 30th September 1919. 

While Sonny was away at war Leah moved the family back to Brisbane to be near family.  He joined the family in Brisbane and was given a soldier’s grant for an orchard at Applethorpre however when that failed he tried tomatoes which was successful and they were sent to the Brisbane markets.  After some time, the family moved to Stanthorpe where Sonny returned to his trade as a saddler.  When work in that area became scarce the family moved to Dalkeith where Sonny did tin mining for a time.  In 1932 the family moved back to Stanthorpe and then later to Brisbane, initially living at Windsor but eventually settling at Mitchelton.  Sonny set up a leather goods business under the house and every one of his grandchildren received a handcrafted, engraved, leather school bag made especially for them by Sonny.  

When war broke out again Sonny enlisted in the AIF at Enoggera on the 30th September 1940 aged 53.  His service number was Q61066, his unit was the 1st Australian Auxiliary Horse Transport Company, based at the Enoggera Camp, in which he served initially as a waggon erector and then in March 1941 was reclassified to a saddler.  In August 1941 he had 2 weeks leave and then just before Christmas he spent 6 days at the Army Camp at Cabarlah, a suburb of Toowoomba.  On the 22nd April 1942, while at Enoggera, he was promoted to Acting Corporal and 2 weeks later marched out for duty to “D Section” Toowoomba.  He was there for 20 months before rejoining his unit in January 1944.  Two months later he was discharged on the 31st March 1944, returning to his wife Leah at the family home at Mitchelton where they lived for the remainder of their days.  Leah passed away in April 1960 aged 68 and Sonny on the 11th March 1963 aged 75.  They are both buried in the Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane QLD.

My thanks goes to my friend Karen, Sonny’s granddaughter, who provided me with much of the personal information in this biography. 

William Henry Deller was awarded for service in WW1 and WW2:

Medals WW1

British War Medal  Victory Medal 

Medals WW2         

Australia Service Medal     Australia Defence Medal     War Medal


Respectfully submitted by Sue Smith June 2020