William Leonard FITZSIMONS

FITZSIMONS, William Leonard

Service Number: 1701
Enlisted: 1 April 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 7th Machine Gun Company
Born: Riverton, South Australia, 5 February 1895
Home Town: Mercunda, Karoonda East Murray, South Australia
Schooling: Sandy Flat School & Houghton School, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 5 November 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Cudlee Creek Millbrook Public School Roll of Honour, Gumeracha Our Fallen Heroes WW1 Honour Board, Mercunda Mantung Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

16 Aug 0016: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 1701, 7th Machine Gun Company
1 Apr 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick, South Australia
23 Jun 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, HMAT Kanowna A61
4 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, 1701, 27th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli,

embarkation_roll: roll_number: 15 embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Kanowna embarkation_ship_number: A61 public_note:

4 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, 1701, 27th Infantry Battalion
27 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, 1701, 7th Machine Gun Company, Battle for Pozières
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Surname: FITZSIMONS; Given Names: William Leonard; Date of Birth: 5 February 1895; Date of Enlistment: 1 April 1915; Trade or Calling: Farmer; Birth Location: Riverton; Address prior to enlistment: Sandale Farm Mercunda; Photograph sent by: Mrs G Doody
Source: State Records SA

Parents Mr Thomas  Francis Fitzsimons and Mrs Ellen Fitzsimons, Sandale Farm Mercunda near Kuranda Murray Mallee

Enlisting in April 1915, William Fitzsimons was allocated to the 2nd Reinforcements of the 27th Battalion.

He sailed with his reinforcement draft on 23 June 1915 disembarking in ALexandria.

After further ttraining he landed at Gallipoli with the Battalion on 4 September 1915, serving through until evacuation and eventual repatriation back to Alexandria on 10 January 1916.  He sailed for Marseille in March 1916.  The Battalion proceeded to the Armentieres sector known as 'The Nursery' where troops new to the Western Front were 'shown the ropes'.

The 27th Battlion and its sister unit the 28th were among the first Austrlaian troops to arrive in the Somme sector.  Immediately prior to the first commitment of troops to the capture of Pozieres, William Fitzsimons was transferred to the 7th Machine Gun Company.  He served through the Pozieres  / Mouquet Farm battles and then to Belgium in October.  The Brigade rreturned to the Somme and was engaged in the fighting near Flers in November 1916, amidst the worst winter north west Europe had experienced in living memory.

The 7th MG Company was engaed in a task supporting an attack on 5th November, when the coompany came under fire and a number of casualties were sustained.  William Fitzsimons was the only fatality.  He would have been buried in the field which it must be remembered at that time was a sea of near-frozen mud.  It is presumed that the ground was later subject to shelling and any markers on his grave would have been lost, consigning Wiliam to a memory engraved on a far off memorial with little tangible evidence of his passing back in Australia.

1914/15 Star  22958

British War Medal 15109

Victory Medal 15049  12 November 1920

Commemorative Medallion and scroll 321165 7 August 1922

Steve Larkins July 2014


Private W. L. Fitzsimmons, who was killed in action on November 6, was the younger son of Mr. and Mrs. T. F. Fitzsimons, ''Sandale Farm," Mercunda. He was educated at the Stanley Flat and Houghton schools, and worked on the home farm until he enlisted. He left Australia on June 24, 1915, with reinforcements to the 27th Battalion, but on gaining a first-class gunner's certificate he was transferred to the Machine Gun section. He served three months on Gallipoli, and had been in France since last March. Of fine physique and possessing a bright disposition, he was a typical Australian soldier. He spent his 21st birthday in Egypt and was 21 years and 9 months old on the day he was killed." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 30 Dec 1916 (nla.gov.au)