William Charles GOLDFINCH

GOLDFINCH, William Charles

Service Number: 3110
Enlisted: 1 July 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Vincent, South Australia, 1 January 1897
Home Town: Curramulka, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: Curramulka, Public School, Curramulka, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Mouquet Farm, Pozieres, France, 16 August 1916, aged 19 years
Cemetery: Serre Road Cemetery No.2 Beaumont Hamel, France
Plot XV, Row F, Grave 14., Serre Road Cemetery No 2, Beaumont Hamel, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Curramulka Uniting Church WW1 Pictorial Roll of Honor , Meningie War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

1 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
14 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3110, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Ballarat embarkation_ship_number: A70 public_note: ''
14 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 3110, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Adelaide
16 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3110, 50th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 3110 awm_unit: 50 Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1916-08-16

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Checked on AWM website including Roll of Honour Circular. William is commemorated on the Meningie memorial as his parents were living in Meningie at the time of his enlistment as was William.

William's body was not recovered until 1927 and was then laid to rest quite some distance from Mouquet Farm at Serre Rd Number 2.

His family had moved to Naracoorte but when he was deemed to be missing his Mother returned to live in Meningie in case he returned to Australia and was not able to find them. Sadly she died before his remains were discovered, so she lived the rest of her days in false hope.


Biography contributed

Contributed by St Paul's College


On December 26th 1896 William Charles Goldfinch was born in the town of Port Vincent, South Australia, to the parents William and Bessie Goldfinch. William was later to become the eldest of three children. In his youth, William’s family lived in the town of Curramulka on the Yorke Peninsula which was also the place of much of his early education. He was taught by a Mr Griffiths through an entirely private educational program until 1912 when his family moved to the town of Meningie and his studies continued although through a mail course instead. Whilst in Meningie his father had establish a sheep farm which soon became the place where William worked as a farmer during his spare time (Australian War Memorial, n.d.). 

In 1914 when World War 1 begun William instantly wanted to enlist, however at that time he was only 17 years of age making it mandatory that he received parental permission to join (National Archives of Australia, n.d.). Seeking the approval and support of his father in his decision to enlist was futile as William’s father did not consent for him to join the war. William’s father had hoped as his eldest son he would continue the family name and family business for the years to come therefore dismissed William’s wishes to enlist in the armed forces. Furthermore, religious factors contributed to his father’s decision as the Goldfinch family were of Methodist affiliations therefore upholding the belief “Do no harm” so his father was led to strongly stand by this (Resource UMC, n.d.). Despite William’s father’s strong discouragement in July, the following year William was finally given the opportunity to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force from Adelaide, as having turned 18 he was no longer required to gain parental consent.

Although William was only 18 years when he enlisted to the forces, he displayed much determination and courage evident by his willingness to go against his father’s wishes and sacrifice his life as a farmer, in order to represent his country Australia. William then undertook training across Australia before deploying from Adelaide for services overseas in September of 1915 alongside the reinforcements of the 10th Battalion.

Following his departure, William was sent to Egypt on the HMAT A48 Seang Bee to be alongside the 10th Battalion troops which had just prior been evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula (Connecting Spirits, n.d.). For several months he continued training and throughout this time the Australian Imperial Force undertook an expansion and reorganizational period which later situated William officially as part of the newly established 50th Battalion (Australian War Memorial, n.d.).

In the following year, June 1916, the 50th Battalion travelled to France on the Arcadia for their first expedition to fight on the Western Front in France specifically in the First Battle of Somme. This battle encompassed two main objectives; the first of which was to relieve the French troops in Verdun by forming an offensive and the second was to inflict heavy losses against the German armies therefore weakening their forces and creating an advantage (HISTORIC UK, 2021).


Nonetheless, upon the first months of the Battalions arrival, all that was experienced in battle was constant artillery bombardment resulting in immense casualties and an unrestrained and relentless slaughter (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2023). During the month of August, the 50th Battalion undertook their first major operation as they entered the frontline of the battle near the French village of Pozieres which later posted the troops at a fortified farmstead, Mouquet Farm. During this battle extreme fatalities resulted due to the constant shell fire, which was directly attributed to the lack of artillery at the Anzac troops disposal because of ordinance trades (Australian War Memorial, 2022).

Two days on from the battle at Mouquet Farm, the 50th Battalion had experienced high fatalities and were therefore relieved from the front line. When the redeployment was completed, William was not with the Battalion and consequently posted as a missing person. Four months after the declaration of his unknown whereabouts a court of inquiry was conducted to determine his fate. As a witness, Sergeant Annis expressed that on August 16 William was seen sitting in the trenches with severe facial wounds. Later another soldier recounted sighting William and touching his body as he passed by him, William was said to have fallen over which likely indicated he was dead, with the possibility that he had been for a while (Australia War Memorial, n.d.).

It was later declared that during the night of the 15/16th of August William had been hit by a shell attack and therefore killed at the age of 19. Some reports of the death state that he was wounded and could not move, whilst others state that his head had been blown off entirely.

Nevertheless, following the official announcement on June 1st 1917 that William Charles Goldfinch had been killed in action, his body was buried in a shallow unmarked grave. It was not until 1928 that his body was recovered and reburied permanently in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 near Beaumont-Hamel (Connecting Spirits, n.d.).



5 things you need to know about the first World War, n.d. First World War. Available at: https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-first-world-war (Accessed: 27 May 2023).


First battle of the Somme (2023) Encyclopædia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/event/First-Battle-of-the-Somme (Accessed: 01 June 2023).


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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3110) Private William Charles Goldfinch, 50th Battalion, AIF, First World War., n.d. World War 1. Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2695111 (Accessed: 30 May 2023).


The technology of World War I, n.d. Homepage. Available at: https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/technology-world-war- i#:~:text=Heavy%20artillery%2C%20machine%20guns%2C%20tanks,that%20reshaped%20tw entieth%20century%20warfare. (Accessed: 27 May 2023).


Tibbitts, C., 2021. Acknowledgement of traditional custodians, Australian War Memorial. Available at: https://www.awm.gov.au/wartime/article2#:~:text=It%20is%20generally%20accepted%20that,p ermanently%20disabled%20in%20some%20way (Accessed: 27 May 2023).


View Digital Image, n.d. View digital copy. Available at: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=4770592 (Accessed: 01 June 2023).


What does Anzac Day mean to our kids? guest post from Lynda Ward (2013) Traces Magazine.

Available at: https://tracesmagazine.com.au/2013/04/what-does-anzac-day-mean-to-our-kids- guest-post-from-lynda-ward/ (Accessed: 01 June 2023).


William Goldfinch, n.d. Soldiers. Available at: https://www.connectingspirits.com.au/pages/soldiers/2006-soldiers/william- goldfinch.php#:~:text=During%20the%20night%20of%20the,buried%20in%20an%20unmarked %20grave (Accessed: 01 June 2023).


World War 1, n.d. World War I. Available at: https://www.naa.gov.au/learn/learning- resources/learning-resource-themes/war/world-war-i (Accessed: 28 May 2023).