William COLVIN


COLVIN, William

Service Number: 860
Enlisted: 18 August 1914, Broadmeadows, Victoria
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 8th Infantry Battalion
Born: Rutherglen, Victoria, Australia, 1893
Home Town: Rutherglen, Indigo, Victoria
Schooling: Melbourne High School, Victoria
Occupation: School Teacher
Died: Killed in Action, Pozières, France age 23, 25 July 1916
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Colvin Sons, Eldorado War Memorial, Rutherglen War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

18 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Broadmeadows, Victoria
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 860, 8th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 860, 8th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Melbourne
25 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 8th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

William Colvin

William Colvin was born in 1893, the son of James and Elizabeth (Yates) Colvin of Norong Central, near Rutherglen in rural Victoria, Australia. He attended Melbourne High School in 1909-10 and completed the Manual Arts program at the Melbourne Teachers College in 1911-13. He worked as a woodwork teacher at Leongatha and Warragul.

William enlisted in the army on 18 August 1914 shortly after the declaration of war, joining the 8th Battalion as a Private, and was promoted to Corporal on 17 September 1914. He embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Benalla (A24) on 19 October 1914 and arrived in Egypt on 2 December 1914 where he was promoted to Sergeant on 13 December 1914. The 8th Battalion took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second wave, and in August fought at the battle of Lone Pine. The battalion served at Anzac until the evacuation in December.

In a letter to his mother dated 16 August 1915 published in the Rutherglen Sun and Chiltern Valley Advertiser, William describes the events of the first Sunday at Gallipoli, including being wounded three times. He was struck on the back by shrapnel which left him with lumps on either side his spine and bruising, while lying down a bullet passed over his nose and cut him over his chest, but it was not until Monday that he later realised that a bullet had entered his back and travelled under the surface about a foot. The bullet was not removed until Thursday. The tone of the letter reveals a typical attitude of Aussie larrikinism and an absence of any ill-will towards his Turkish opponents. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt where William was appointed Temporary Company Sergeant Major on 10 February 1916 and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 20 February 1916.

In March 1916, the battalion sailed for France and the Western Front. The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozières in the Somme valley. William was wounded on 25 July 1916 before the reaching the final objective but was carried on to Pozieres where he died almost immediately. He is recorded as being buried about 500 yards north of Pozieres. William has no known grave and is commemorated at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France.

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"...860 Corporal (later 2nd Lieutenant) William Colvin, 8th Battalion of Rutherglen, Victoria. A school teacher prior to enlisting, he embarked from Melbourne aboard HMAT Benalla (A24) on 19 October 1914. On 25 July 1916, he was killed in action at Pozieres, France, aged 23. He has no known grave and is remembered with honour on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)



Lieut. Wm. Colvin, son of Mr. and Mrs Jas. Colvin, of Norong Central, has been killed in action in France. Word to this effect was received in Rutheglen on Monday. Lieut. Colvin was only 23 years of age, and was a very promising young man." - from the Wangaratta Chronicle 19 Aug 1916 (nla.gov.au)