William George BUCK

Badge Number: SA11167, Sub Branch: State

BUCK, William George

Service Number: 5055
Enlisted: 3 December 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Wentworth, New South Wales, Australia, 29 December 1894
Home Town: Brompton, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Natural causes, Adelaide, South Australia, 23 February 1979, aged 84 years
Cemetery: Cheltenham Cemetery, S.A.
Lawn Section. Drive D, Row 2, Site no 21C Burial
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World War 1 Service

3 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5055, Adelaide, South Australia
25 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5055, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5055, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Adelaide
20 Sep 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 27th Infantry Battalion
5 Nov 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 5055, 27th Infantry Battalion, Flers/Gueudecourt
26 Jan 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 27th Infantry Battalion
7 Mar 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 27th Infantry Battalion
22 Mar 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 5055, 27th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, 2nd occasion - GSW (left shoulder)
10 Jul 1920: Discharged AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 5055, 27th Infantry Battalion

William George Buck A Lad from Wentworht

William George Buck
WW1 service # 5055 10th and 27th Battalions AIF 1915-1920
Researched by his grandson Leigh Thompson (contact leighanne111@gmail.com)

In compiling the following record of Bill's 5 years of overseas service in the AIF I have referred to his official war records acquired from the Australian War Memorial and cross referenced them, where possible, to the history of his battalions, the 10th and 27th AIF. For the 10th battalion these were "History of the 10th Battalion AIF, Egypt, Gallipoli, France, Belgium 1914-1918" part of the Ferguson Collection National Library of Canberra and for the 27th batallion, "The Blue and Brown Diamond , A History of the 27th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force 1915-1919" by Lieut-Col W. Dolman V.D. and Sgt H. M. Skinner M.M. Other sources of information came from other contributions already compiled on the Virtual War Memorial and Australian War Memorial websites. The information has been compiled as a reference for family members to give some idea of Bill's experiences, contributions and bravery during the Great War and by no means claim to be 100% accurate but as near as can be interpreted from the above sources. Two books, "Stealth Raiders, A Few Daring Men in 1918", Lucas Jordan, Penguin Random House Australia, Vintage Books, first published 1917 and "There and back with a Dinkum" by William Russell Goodwin Colman also provided much background to the movements, activities and engagement that took place on the front line in Belgium and France. I have also referred to two letters Bill wrote to his cousin George Packer from Fovant Army Base in November 1918, the transcripts of which I have posted on the Virtual War Memorial website. I have pieced together Bill's progress from notes taken in my research and on occasions have used direct quotations from source material.

An interesting aspect is the number of places that the digger visited and travelled through on what would now be referred to as his "tour of duty". I have included the names of places Bill must have moved through with his battalions to give a spatial impression of where Bill served. It will also provide an opportunity for future generations of the family to map or visit Bill's placements on the western front.

William George Buck, WW1 Service Number 5055, Born 29/12/1894 Died 23/02/1979.
Honours obtained were the 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Bill was a member of 10th Battalion and then 7th Brigade which consisted of 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th Battalions. Bill was born in Wentworth New South Wales and lived on the family sheep station aptly named "Log Hut", nestled alongside the Darling River. Prior to enlisting he laboured on the sheep station driving bullock wagons loaded with wool to the boat docks so the paddle steamers could ply their trade down the river. He lived at a time when Australia was "riding on the sheep's back", at times running thousands of sheep on a massive spread of Australia's outback. He would have been used to roughing it outback, facing and surviving in a harsh environment and in the process developing the qualities which no doubt enabled him to survive on the dreaded WW1 battlefields of France and Belgium.

Bill enlisted on 3rd Dec 1915 and joined the 16th Reinforcements 10th Battalion. He later transferred to the 27th Battalion B Company where he served for the majority of the war but was also on occasions part of the 5th Training Battalion based in England. He embarked from Adelaide on March 26th 1916 arriving in Egypt at Tel El Kebir on the May 2nd 1916. Upon arrival Bill was admitted to hospital. What should have been a training placement of several weeks turned into a three month stay in Egypt as his service record indicates he arrived in Perham Downs Training Camp (nicknamed Perishing Downs) near Salisbury England on August 9th 1916. Perham Downs was one of four Australian command depots in the UK dealing with soldiers who had been discharged from hospital and needed training before being sent back to France. Command Depot No.1, capable of accommodating 4,000 men, was established at Perham Downs in the summer of 1916 before moving to Sutton Veny in October 1917. Records do not indicate what Bill might have contracted on the ship to Egypt but it was sufficient to keep him for some time in hospital. This was to be the first of several hospitalisations for Bill over the course of the war.

Bill arrives in France to start his war on the Front Line
On August 11th 1916 Bill marched into Etaples (Principal Depot, transit camp, training facility and hospital complex in France) from Perham Downs. Bill's war records indicate he joined the 10th Battalion "in the field" on August 23rd 1916. He had spent 2 weeks acclimatising in Etaples before moving to the front. An extract from the Virtual War Memorial entry for William Russell Goodwin Colman the author of "There and back with a Dinkum" writing about the 27th Battalion could apply equally for Bill in the 10th Battalion Reinforcements.
"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" where 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."

From August 19th to 23rd 1916 the 10th Battalion was at Mouquet Farm near Pozieres and had participated in the fighting at Pozieres. Bill's war records have an entry dated August 23rd 1916, the last date of battle at Pozieres, "joined 10th Btn from Rfts." It would appear that Bill joined the 10th on the Front line as part of these reinforcements. He would have been transferred to the 27th while at Steenvoorde probably as a part of redistributing reinforcements to reduced battalions. (War record entry dated September 19th 1916, Trans. to 27th Inf. Btn from 10th Btn "In the Field"). It is highly likely Bill arrived after the battle had concluded. He would have missed the first wave of the attack when most casualties occurred.

The following extract taken from the History of the 10th Battalion A. Limb Pg 33 I believe refers to Bill's introduction to the 10th Battalion.
"On the night 22-23 (August) the battalion was relieved by the 21st battalion and entrained shortly afterwards at Doullens for Belgium. The brief spell following, and the quiet sector some what similar to Sailly, worked wonders in the battalion, and the constant arrival of large batches of reinforcements quickly filled the gaps made vacant by the wasting operations of the Somme".

The 28th Battalion was also a part of the 7th Brigade and were in Steenvoorde at the same time as the 27th. "The rain during this period was incessant and the training ground reduced to a quagmire – which was rather fitting for what was to come. But the period was peaceful and a welcome respite – there was even a full sports programme with the 28th victorious in the football. During off duty hours the men were free to roam around Steenvoorde that the relationships with the local inhabitants were very cordial and it was a common sight to see the men of the brigade working in the fields, in the absence of the local men who had all been conscripted". Neville Browning, "The Blue and White Diamond – History of the 28th Battalion AIF 1915-1919" pp146-47

Bill spent 27 days with the 10th Battalion after the battle at Pozieres. This time seems relatively quiet as the battalion recovered and were reinforced after Pozieres.
"After Pozières in August, the 7th Brigade moved north to Flanders and spent most of September billeted at Steenvoorde, behind the lines near Ypres, training and refitting with a large batch of reinforcements and men returned from hospital. There were many promotions to replace the officers and NCOs lost in action during Pozières". "History of the 10th Battalion" pg 33
Indeed the next date referred to in the History of the 10th Battalion is the 9th of October by which time Bill had already been transferred into the 27th. The 27th consisting of A, B, C and D companies spent October alternating on the front line or behind the lines having been relieved on the front by those designated to be on relief. While no serious offensive took place in this period the 27th (and in all probability Bill) were involved in some skirmishes in late September through to mid October 1916. So it appears Bill would have stayed behind the lines in Ypres from 5th to 16th of October with some front line duties. From the 16th to the 27th October the 27th moved throughout the Belgian countryside to end up in Dernancourt where they were billetted. It was very wet and cold and the whole of the Somme was one huge quagmire in unprecedented winter conditions.

The Conditions Bill endured as part of his introduction to The Great War
Bill's introduction to the war in Belgium took place in appalling conditions. The winter of 1916/17 proved to be one of the worst on record and Bill would have been only too familiar with the sterotypic desolated landscape pictures of the Somme we are all familiar with.
An extract from page 34 of "The History of the 10th Battalion" describes the conditions at the time.
"On the 9th October the battalion, in conjunction with the brigade, began a four days’ route march, stopping at nights at Steenvoorde, Oosthouck, Mouille, and Tournehem respectively, and after three days rest and training at the last-mentioned place, entrained at Audruicq for the South. Detraining at Pont Remy (near Abbeville), the battalion began working up by motor bus and route march to the Somme area again. Up to now the weather, which had been fairly fine, began to break, and as the battalion moved up into areas only too familiar, they found that the rain and constant traffic had turned the churned earth into mud. As railways were just being laid, most of the supplies had to be transported by the roads, which were taxed to their uttermost day and night. Guns, lorries, wagons, ambulances, cars, in strings of many miles blocked the roads holding up the traffic for hours on end. For travelling distances of a few kilometres it became necessary to leave at daybreak to get back before dark. The march from Fricourt to Bernafay Wood, a distance of about five kilometres, started at 10 a.m. was not completed till about half-past four in the afternoon, and when the camp was finally reached, the men, drenched to the skin by pouring rain, covered with mud from head to foot, had to bivouac in shallow dugouts in places inches deep in water. The constant rain had soaked the sides of the trenches until both parapet and parados collapsed, falling into the already deep mud and making the whole an impassable bog."

A similar extract from pages 152-154 Neville Browning " The Blue and White Diamond, History of the 28th Battalion AIF 1915-1919", also a part of the 7th Brigade, tells a similar story. "In October the 28th AIF moved to Ypres, which was derelict due to two years of almost constant bombardment, and from there into the front line. The ‘weather was becoming wintry and the terrain and trenches were waterlogged due to the abundance of rain that fell with monotonous frequency’. It was here that the 28th experienced the largest rats they had ever seen. “These unpleasant rodents, the size of well-grown kittens, infested dugouts and shelters and tunnelled into the earthworks…. One even had the temerity to bite the Regimental Sergeant Major’s nose one day when he was snatching forty winks!" (H.K. Kahan, The 28th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force : a record of war service) . The Battalion then moved back to the Somme, to the front line at Dernacourt near Albert, which caused some resentment, as the survivors of Pozières were not keen to return to the Somme believing that countless lives had been needlessly thrown away there for such little gain. The general feeling running through the AIF was that the Australians had done more than their share of fighting and dying. The weather was still dreadful and the condition of the trenches appalling. Mud oozed from the trench walls and communication trenches were reduced to canals."

Bill was first wounded at Gueudecourt on November 5th 1916
Gueudecourt, a village on the Somme battlefield in northern France, became the scene of two attacks by Australian troops in November 1916. These were made in conditions rated as the most difficult ever faced by the AIF. The British offensive of this front in September (during which 1 Anzac Corps was resting in the Ypres sector after its losses at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm) had advanced the line into a valley below the Bapaume heights. Here the onset of autumn rains turned the ground into a quagmire, and attacks against the German lines by the British Fourth and Fifth Armies during October all failed totally with heavy losses.

At the end of October 1916 the 27th and 28th Battalions moved towards Gueudecourt to attack a trench system known as The Maze. The attack was to take place in some of the worst conditions experienced on the Somme. The date of Bill's wounding in his war records indicate he must have participated in this attack.

" B. company of the 27th Battalion, upon reporting to Colonel Walker, C.O. of 25th Battalion, shortly before 8:00am, received orders to attack and clean up the Maze. At 9.10am on Sunday November 5th, our boys, tired but determined to test the fighting qualities of the enemy, made their advance under the very lightest of artillery barrages, meeting immediately with a withering fire from the enemy strong points. As the advance took place during daylight the enemy gunners and snipers were able to use their weapons with deadly effect, the close range adding to their advantage. Large gaps were cut in the lines of advancing troops who however would not be denied and gallantly rushing forward, small parties were able to reach Bayonet Trench and The Maze." "History of the 27th Battalion" Pg 72

" The sniping qualities of the enemy proved, in some instances, fearful, many of the boys so effectively covered as to necessitate their remaining in shell-holes until nightfall. On the left, the party of "B" company, with two Lewis guns, one of which was out of action, held grimly to the captured trench, breaking up every determined effort of the enemy to retake the position, bombing with enemy ammunition as well as their own. Many daring and heroic deeds were performed by the gallant party during the 27 hours it held the position, the work of privates Royals and Prosser being particularly worthy of mention. When darkness set in many of the boys, some of whom were slightly wounded, made their way back to our lines, and despite the consistency of the enemy machine gun fire, the work of rescuing our wounded was carried on until dawn. The next morning our casualties were found to be extremely heavy, only three company officers remaining. Casualties were 5 officers killed and 5 wounded, other ranks 72 killed, 136 wounded, 75 missing. Total killed 77, wounded 141, missing 75." "The Blue and Brown Diamond" pg74

Other accounts of the advance on the Maze trench system exist and give an idea of the conditions and enemy defence that Bill would have encountered as part of his advance with the 27th Battalion.
Captain Charles Bean, Australian Official War Correspondent, wrote the following account of the battle of Gueudecourt in reference to the 28th Battalion attacking to one side of the 27th.
"But the conditions were appalling. The mud caused havoc for the attack, preventing the men exploiting the creeping artillery barrage that preceded the attack and was supposed to cover the advance across no mans land. There was a gale, which preventing reconnaissance by air. Leading to poor execution of the barrage, with plenty of time for the Germans to emerge from their dug outs and face on the oncoming assault. The 28th, struggling through the mud, were decimated by the German machine guns, pinned down in no mans land, some for many days, in what we now see as typical of the First World War. The mud hampered the evacuation of the casualties and of the remaining men, most of them suffered from trench foot – 90% of the 27th Battalion (Browning, pp157-9; Bean, Ch XXV, pp 917-920) The 28th’s Battalion War Diary for November 1916 typically records the horror of this period in its tragically understated way."

Bill's war records indicate a gunshot wound to the left thumb on November 5th 1916 requiring evacuation by amblance train to Camiers and then Etaples where there were several field hospitals. I suspect Bill was part of the 9.10am attack involved in the taking of the trench and could possibly have been assisting privates Royals and Prosser mentioned above. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and Corporal upon returning to the battalion, perhaps in recognition of his efforts attacking the "Maze" trench. A part of the Battalion reached the trench where presumably hand to hand combat took place.
"Lieut W Dickens, with “B” Company, entered the enemy trench at the Maze, and fought the occupants to a standstill. Included in this party were several 26th Battalion troops, whose magnificent efforts proved of invaluable assistance to our boys." Pg 72 '"The Blue and Brown Diamond "

A Possible Cause for the Gueudecourt Wounding
One could surmise that a hand wound could have been received in this close quarter fighting, a bullet wound to the hand perhaps being caused by a person raising their left hand to a shot being fired in their direction or on being on top of the rifle in a bayonet lunge may have received a wound as a German rifle was discharged in defence as guns or bayonets met. Then again Bill may have been lucky crossing No Man's Land as a bullet took his thumb rather than another part of his body. Without further evidence we will never know apart from the fact that Bill once told me (his grandson) that he fought in enemy trenches.
That he was fighting in trenches against the Germans is in do doubt as later in 1918 he was most certainly taking part in what became known as Australian Peaceful Penetration tactics, commando raiding by small parties of non commissioned officers with 5 or 6 soldiers on the German trench system in response to the huge losses of the more direct trench warfare of the previous years.

During hospitalisation Bill may have been fortunate to not have been on the front line as conditions worsened in the three weeks he was invalided. On November 18th the 27th Battalion was relieved by the 17th battalion:
" This relief is usually referred to, by those who took part, as the “retreat from Flers,” it being the most trying time ever experienced by the Battalion in similar operations. The long march of over seven miles to Fricourt Camp, through showers of rain and slush, the main roads connecting Longueval, Montauban, and Fricourt being ankle deep in mud, was one that will ever be remembered. " pg 75 "The Blue and Brown Diamond"
Luck undoubtedly played its part enabling Bill to survive on the front, this being one example where on this occasion he avoided the most appalling conditions.

Bill Rejoins the Battalion Christmas 1916
Bill rejoined the Battalion from Etaples on November 27th 1916 and for the next four weeks spent time behind the lines training, doing repairs and laying cables while the weather continued to be extremely severe with many men succumbing to pneumonia and evacuated to hospital. The 27th was in the Ancre Valley and they were moving between the towns of Buire, Vignacourt and Montauban in the vicinity of Amiens. Nissan huts provided more comfortable accommodation in places and a Christmas dinner of straight tea, bully and biscuits was supplied to all.
"On the 24th we marched to Montauban, or, some might say, we waded there. The mud had greatly increased since our last occupation, and the camp was now a huge quagmire; one step off the duck boards meant a re-appearance with the next heavy rain. On Christmas Day, 1916, the Battalion carried out fatigue duties in the forward areas, our Christmas dinner consisting of tea “straight,” bully, and biscuits, while at the Montauban camp the Battalion Band strafed Battalion Headquarters with a few Christmas carols."
"The Blue and Brown Diamond " pg 79
Early in January 1917 the 27th moved back to the Gueudecourt area eventually being billetted at Dernancourt.
"On January 15th we were relieved by the 5th Brigade, and marching to Montauban quarries entrained for Meaulte, from which place we marched to Dernancourt and billeted there for the night. The following day we moved to Buiresur-Ancre. Our boys were now quite accustomed to this quiet little village, and it was pleasing to note the great eagerness with which the inhabitants of these villages of the Ancre Valley looked forward to the divisional reliefs." "The Blue and Brown Diamond" pg 81
Over the final two weeks of January 1917 the 27th batallion trained in all forms of warfare but by January 31st "B" Company was once again on the front line.
"The attitude in general on the Fourth Army front still remained of an aggressive nature, despite the adverse weather conditions, the main intention being to effect a line conforming to the main Arras-Bapaume-Peronne road, the right flank, in the vicinity of Gueudecourt, being already established. Early morning mists considerably hampered the work of ground and aerial observers, and the enemy artillery was par ticularly active, shelling our support and reserve areas the whole time." "The Blue and Brown Diamond " pg 81

Bill Fought in the Battle of Warlencourt and survived
During the first week of February 1917 several men were killed in the general area including the severe wounding of the Battalion Intelligence Officer Leiutenant Maughn. Engaging the ememy was ever present and men would have been on hight alert at all times. On February 14 "A" and "B" Companies took over the forward posts immediately facing the famous Butte-de-Warlencourt. This was a very serious engagement mostly fought by the British with assistance from the Australians in the 27th. Again Bill was fighting on the front line trench system.
"The Butte, at this time practically in No Man’s Land, afforded an excellent aiming point for the enemy’s and our artillery, and the ground surrounding it was a series of deep shell holes almost full of water. Owing to our intended advance very little was done in consolidation. On February 16th "C" and D" Coys, relieved "A" and "B" Coys, in the line. The artillery on both sides was extremely active during our occupation, but fortunately no serious casualties resulted." "The Blue and Brown Diamond " pg 82
This resulted in the enemy evacuating Warlencourt Village and their front line trenches. The Australian advance at Warlencourt began in earnest on February 26th and there followed some dramatic fighting in the trenches with heavy casualties.

The following passage from "The Blue and Brown Diamond" pg 85 emphasises the conditions Bill confronted at Warlencourt and the gravity of the casualty list. The 27th Battalion experienced nearly three weeks of trench warfare in deplorable conditions and heavy resistance.
"The Battle.
At 3 a.m. our barrage was put down upon the objective, lifting beyond it seven minutes later. Our boys then attacked in great style, gaining the first 130 yards in quick time. Lieut. Botten, whilst most courageously leading his men, was killed, and Captain Julge severely wounded. The enemy now partially succeeded in flanking the movements of our troops on the left of "D" Company, who were forced to return to Loupart road for more bombs. All available men in Warlencourt were organised and sent forward by Capt Devonshire to retrieve the situation. After connection with the right of the 26th Battalion had become established the party under Lieuts. Davies and Lampard moved along Malt Trench to the right to assist in the connection with the 5th Brigade. Meanwhile Lieuts. Caldwell and Lucas were killed by a shell in Loupart road. A thick mist had now settled over the position, and the party moving along the trench garrisoned the strong points as they were captured, and after some heroic and splendid bombing by Cpl. Duggan and his party, connection with the 5th Brigade was eventually established. Owing to the mist bombs were exchanged between the connecting parties, but Cpl. Duggan becoming suspicious, gallantly moved forward to investigate, and thereby prevented unnecessary casualties.
Under cover of the mist a trench 500 yards long and 6 feet deep was dug unseen by the enemy, who were in occupation of the Grevillers line. During the engagement 22 prisoners were captured and about 60 of the enemy killed, our casualties being 3 officers and 22 other ranks killed, 1 officer and 95 other ranks wounded. As in the previous Somme battles, our men fought and behaved splendidly, and despite the intensely cold weather and the difficult nature of the ground they had to traverse, the stretcher bearers toiled hard to effect the immediate relief of the wounded. On March 4th we were relieved by the 25th Battalion, and moving back became support battalion, being disposed as follows: Battalion Headquarters, Le Sars; C and D Companies, Scotland Trench; A and B Companies, Flers (support). Two days later we were again relieved by the 25th Battalion, and became reserve battalion, with Battalion Headquarters at 26th Avenue, C and D Companies, 26th Avenue, A and B Companies, Gunpit Road.
On March 7th the enemy heavily shelled A and B Companies’ position, killing two men and wounding four. The following day we relieved the 26th Battalion at Le Sars, again constituting support battalion, and disposed as on the previous occasion, with the exception of D Coy., which occupied positions in Aqueduct road.
On the night of March 10th we were relieved by the 17th Battalion, and marched back to Becourt camp, situated a mile and a half east of Albert. From the 11th to the 18th the Battalion was engaged in re-organising its companies and training in mobile warfare. While thus occupied a report reached us that the enemy had evacuated the Grevillers Line, and was retiring through Bapaume. A few days later we received the official report of the fall of Bapaume, and the Australians’ advance 1,000 yards east of the town."

Wounded again. Bill, a Stealth Raider!
Bill was wounded again on March 22nd 1917 about three months after returning to the 27th Battalion from Etaples field hospital. The war records indicate Bill was wounded on the 22nd March and if this is the case it is possible he was shot from the air by enemy aircraft. "The History of the 27th Battalion" recalls a famous enemy air ace was shot down during this engagement and was a real coup for the allied forces. It seems more likely however that Bill was wounded on the following day, March 23rd 1917. On this occasion some members of "B" Company, of which Bill was a member, engaged the enemy in trench warfare during which several prisoners were taken but there were several casualties from "B" company including 5 wounded. As a teenager I saw Bill's gunshot wound on his back which left enormous scar tissue. While I am not sure of the scar tissue from a rifle shot, whatever caused the scar on his back must have been a high calibre weapon as the scarring was very jagged and was easily the size of a hand with spread fingers. Perhaps a plane machine gun, who knows! If the war records are correct it was an aircraft wound but if a day later the latter would seem more probable. Adding credence to the day later wounding was that the action wounding the B Company soldiers appears to have been what has since been attributed to the AIF's "Peaceful Penetration" tactics and more latterly as a "Stealth Raid". These raids generally occurred at night and conducted by a handful of men taking the initiative against front line German observation posts. Their objective was a surprise attack attempting to take captive a German soldier who would give some indication of the German divisions making up the front line. This would convey to Battalion Headquarters information about the strength of the enemy line and the nature of the divisions occupying it. Such a stealth raid could divert an outright attack en mass to gain similar information and avert the greater casualties which would inevitably occur. It would be possible therefore that Bill was wounded at night on March 22nd but that the raid would be attributed to March 23rd when the raiding party may have returned early in the morning.

"On March 23rd one of our "B" Coy’s posts completely surprised some of the enemy, killing three and wounding several others, our casualties being one killed and five wounded. A projected attack by the 7th Brigade upon Lagnicourt and Noreuil, to take place on the 23rd, was postponed. During the night Sgt. Teesdale (scout sergeant) was accidentally shot whilst returning from patrol work. Well known and much esteemed throughout the whole brigade, his death was keenly felt by all." "The Blue and Brown Diamond" pg 89

This means Sgt. Teesdale would have been killed on the night of the 22nd/23rd when B Company soldiers were wounded. Sgt. Teesdale belonged to C Company but he could have joined the patrol/night raid with the B Company soldiers, one of whom could have been Bill Buck. Sgt Teesdale mentioned here appears to be Sgt. Herbert James Teesdale service # 703. His war archive records state that he was killed in action on March 21st, a discrepancy to that stated above and calling into question the accuracy of the records as stated in "The Blue and Brown Diamond". It appears that Sgt. Teesdale was quite a character as he was reprimanded on different occasions for disobeying orders yet was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant. He, like Bill, was wounded on two occasions. It would appear he was the type of character that described many of the Stealth Raiders depicted by Lucas Jordan in his book "Stealth Raiders, A Few Daring Men in 1918", Penguin Random House Australia, Vintage Books, first published 1917. The 27th had trained a group of raiders to carry out such attacks. Herbert James Teesdale was probably one of these as his character fitted the mould of such a soldier. Given the disrepancy of his date of death it is also very possible that Bill was wounded at the same time Teesdale was killed in action and others in the Battalion were wounded. This would suggest that Bill also took part in random attacks on the German front line as was the tactic of the Stealth Raiders and was trained as a raider in the 27th Battalion. Lucas Jordan suggests that the front line Australian infantryman was disillusioned with the tactics of the General Command where soldiers stormed "over the top" to on many occasions a barrage of machine gun fire resulting in the needless casualties experienced during the war. Bill by this time had experienced the worst of the Somme in 1916/17 and would have been a war hardened soldier not unlike Herbert Teesdale by the time of his second wounding. He was also of a rural bush background again fitting the character of the stealth raider referred to by Jordan. The evidence would point to the fact that Bill was taking part in stealth raids but of course without primary evidence it is hard to say this accurately.

Another discrepancy in Bill's official war record is reference to the wound he received with one entry on 25th March 1917 suggesting a bayonet wound to the left arm yet an entry on April 15th 1917 refers to his admission to 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth with a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. As a teenager I certainly saw a wound to Bill's left shoulder! Given the number of casualties over the two days in question and the pressure upon officers given that some officers were amongst the casualties I would think that fatigue, workload and the shock of the trenches which were under constant shelling at the time may all have contributed to a wrong date and confused information on a how a wounded soldier was injured.

What would have been disappointing to Bill was that his wounding was to no avail as 12 months later he was again in the same vicinity but this time the front line was in the position of the resting stations in 1917, the Germans having recaptured ground lost during their retreat from Bapaume and the Battle of Warlencourt.

Admitted to hospital, Rouen France
Following his wounding Bill spent 3 weeks in France recovering. He was transported by hospital train on the 25th March 1917 to 10th General Hospital Rouen being admitted on the 27th March. Five days had elapsed since his wounding and I can only surmise that he was in some degree of pain and discomfort for that period given the nature of his wound. Rouen was also the place where soldiers were sent for venereal disease treatment and a brothel had been established in the town. Not all the men in the hospitals were battle casualties – sexually transmitted diseases took a toll of soldiers in France and a "Client for Rouen" was Army slang for a 'venereal' case. Bill contracted VD and was treated in England after he had recovered from his gunshot wound. No doubt he was no different from the majority of soldiers in WW1 who visited brothels but there is a chance that he could have contracted VD through infection in the hospital, for example the passing on of crab lice from infected sheets or towels. Given he was at Rouen Hospital famous for the treatment of VD and given his health and the conditions at the time it is possible this is the way he contracted VD. His war records do not indicate what form of VD he contracted. His length of time in hospital suggested gonorrhea. He departed for England from Le Havre on the HMAT Warilda on the 13th April 1917. Bill was admitted to the 3rd General Hospital Wandsworth on the 15th April 1917 after a 2 day journey from Le Havre. It must be said that the HMAT Warilda was torpedoed on the 3rd August 1918 with the loss of 123 lives. Another luck factor perhaps.

Bill was admitted to 3rd London General Hospital on 15th April 1917 and checked out on furlough on May 10th 1917, a total of 26 days. He had 10 days furlough and then reported to Perham Downs on 25th May 1917. He stayed at Perham Downs until the June 17th 1917 when he was admitted to the Australian Dermatological Hospital in Bulford with V.D. His treatment lasted for a period of 48 days until 2nd November 1917 when he proceeded overseas to France enroute to the Overseas Training Brigade.

Bill rejoins the Battalion November 1917
For a third time Bill joined the 27th Battalion on 8th November 1917. Bill had been away from the front for 241 days. During that time the 27th Battalion would have changed a great deal. Colman in his story of the 27th "There and Back with a Dinkum" suggested that by late 1917 and 1918 battalions had been reduced to possibly 250 active servicemen on the front line. The 27th Battalion had started with 1000 men consisting of 4 companies of approximately 250 men each. Numbers of active servicemen had dropped by 75%. Bill's company would have been reduced to approximately 70 men by the time he had returned and a large number of these would have been newly introduced reinforcements with much less experience than Bill.

The war had changed and Bill returned to the same area where he had fought 12 months previously. He was to survive the trenches yet again, this time without being wounded. On arrival in France the 27th marched to Ouderdom, then on to Steenvoorde and to a camp 2 miles north west of the town. There was a great deal of rain and so Bill was once again facing the possibility of another bleak winter on the western front. A week later, Nov 16th 1917, they arrived at Berthen and the next day at the village of Neuve-Eglise, 15 kms from Ypres in West Flanders, where the troops were billeted. While they were out of the range of the big guns the camps did experience air raids. A series of football games were also played for recreation and the local villages gave eggs, coffee and potatoes. At this time a group of soldiers formed the 27th Raiders and were very carefully trained. As one of the more experienced troops and having previously engaged in trench warfare Bill was a good candidate for this training but again there is no primary evidence that he did so. On December 12th 1917 ten hostile bombing and fighter planes inflicted serious casualties on the surrounding camps. Three days later the 27th Battalion left the village of Neuve-Eglise. The 27th came to occupy 1000 yards of the front line along the River Lys, 80 yards from the bank. They came under attack from trench mortars and also experienced large calibre gas shells. Over his three years at the front Bill certainly experienced the full repertoire of attacks and weapons in the German arsenal. On Christmas Eve 1917 the 27th Battalion was relieved by the 25th Battalion. They marched through Ploegsteert to Romarin Camp on the Belgian French border.

It was during 1918 that Bill spent many months about the front lines. He was by this time a veteran of the Western Front and in all probability a trained raider, a corporal in charge of a small number of men many of whom would have had far less experience at the front. He marched for miles over the French countryside, was billeted in numerous villages, experienced a massive enemy offensive and returned to areas where 12 months previously they had gained ground only to find themselves pushed backwards after having sacrificed so many lives. Bill had returned from many months recovering in England and such losses must have been disheartening. It was at this point according to Jordan Lucas in his book "Stealth Raiders" that the non commissioned officers took matters into their own hands and conducted raids on the enemy trenches. While casualties at this time did not match those of the winter of 1916/17 there were still deaths and casualties amongst the AIF and the 27th Battalion. It is hard to imagine that your loving and peaceful grandfather who stood tall in his family and community had by this time also killed numerous men and endured such horrible atrocities. His and other diggers' resolve to carry on, succeed and take responsibility to rally against the massive spring German offensive taking the allies to the point of victory is all the more impressive against such a demoralising background. Bill also during this time particpated in a third major battle, the Battle of Moulancourt, this time avoiding injury and successfully holding the ground gained.

During January 1918 it became very cold and the ground froze. Front line troops had to be relieved every 24 hours. Trench feet once again became a concern but no soldier was affected this time, the army having learned from the previous winter. On January 29th 1918 the 7th Brigade were relieved from the Loire area by the 2nd Brigade and moved to the Henneveux Sub-Area. They travelled by road via Bailleul, Strazeele, Hazebrouck, Renescure, Lombres and Escoeuilles. These areas consisted of beautiful scenery and the troops were experiencing fine spring weather. From here they moved to Lottingham and then marched to Cremarest and Bellebrune. The 7th Brigade made their headquarters at Alington and the 27th Brigade were billetted at Bellebrune in France. Bill's "B" company was billetted at Cremarest one kilometre to the south.

A Happy February 1918 and a visit to Paris
At this time most took leave. Bill's war records state that from 05/02/18 to 13/02/18 Bill took leave and went to Paris. On one occasion late one evening in his West Croydon Rosetta Street house I recall him telling us he had watched the Can Can danced in Paris. He had a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye as he remembered the occasion. Others in the 27th took leave in Boulogne on the coast. Diggers also went to Desvres south east of Cremarest on the coast. Nearby at Wimereux a WAAC (Womens Army Auxillary Corps) camp attracted troops as well. Bill may have visited these places as well as his return from Paris was on the 13th February and the 27th moved out from Cremarest on 8th March 1918. Apparently they moved out of Cremarest at 2:00am moving through Desvres at 4:00am with the Army band playing and moving south east out of Cremarest. I suspect the month of February and early March 1918 was one of Bill's more pleasant times in the army.

The 27th moved to Steenwerck in France near Marmentieres and then marched to No.1 Camp Kortepyp-Frelinghiem. Bill was once again near the front line with working parties sent there to attend to repairs. On March 10th one party came under shellfire with 3 killed and 9 wounded, a stark reminder the war was not over as the revelry marching out of Desvres two days previous was quickly forgotten. Enemy long range guns at this time were proving a problem and produced several casualties. On the 20th and 21st March the 27th Battalion moved to the front line. March 21st 1918 is the start date of the enemy spring offensive. The heaviest shelling took place along the Bapaume-Cambrai Road. The old Bullecourt Lagnicourt road front crumbled away under the bombardment. The 27th during this time did not receive much enemy activity but the 28th and 29th Battalions suffered 4 killed. The bombardment must have been heavy as on April 3 the 27th Battalion were relieved by the 3rd Worcesters. They moved back to No.1 camp at Kortepyp where they managed to get a bath and change of clothes.

The 27th moved through Fletre, Codewaersvelde, St Roch, Amiens and then to Allonville where they were billeted. On April 6 1918 the 27th took over the sector extending from Aubigny to Hamelet and Corbie inclusive relieving the 18th and 17th Lancashire Fusiliers. They were billeted in Corbie in evacuated houses. The French Mission congratulated them for leaving houses and valuables intact. Bill was a very honest man and would have seen to it that nothing was disturbed. The 27th was now back in the same area as the battles of Pozieres and Flers a year previously but now previous resting places behind the front lines had become front line positions having lost ground to the enemy in their offensive. "The history of the Blue and Brown Diamond" says the Australian snipers took a heavy toll on the enemy. (I wonder if Bill was a sniper! In Adelaide Bill owned a sport 22 hunting rifle with scope and loved hunting at Bindara Station and Log Hut.) In the meantime the rain and mud had returned which accompanied more heavy shelling.

April 1918 was a month of heavy German advance on the Western Front. Successes at Messines, Neuve-Eglise and east of Mont-Kemmel saw the inevitable withdrawal of allied troops from Passchendale Ridge. This was the second time since March 21 1918 the enemy completely nullified the successes which had cost the Australians many casualties to attain. On April 16 the 27th moved back to the front line. B and C comapanies became supports and reserves. During this time night raids salvaged much valuable material from the partially ruined Edgehill Dressing Station. It was daring extreme work and reflected great credit upon all ranks. Iron bedsteads, sheets, socks, shorts etc and a piano were carried over a hill (but only at night) to a quarry 1200 yards to the rear of the front line so it could be picked up by transport. It was a dangerous and difficult task. Raids saw some prisoners taken but there were casualties amongst the signallers running out wires to the front line. C Company lost its commander Major K.H. Friederecks to shellfire. April was a month of front line engagement, a lot of shelling from both sides and developed into a stalemate.

From April 30th to May 1st 1918 the 7th Brigade and the 27th Battalion marched to Bavelincourt where they billeted for the night. Next day they moved via Behencourt to Pont-Noyelles, where they were billeted overnight and the following day moved to Querrieu. At Rivery they were billeted in Hospice St Victor. On May 26th the 6th Brigade took Ville Sur Ancre and B company took up the front line on the western edge of Buirre. They were now in the vicinity of Ribemont where they had played football 12 months previously. Excitement came on May 27th when the enemy air ace Hermann Wolfe was shot down in flames near Ribemont. The pilot and observer both died and were buried that day. In reprisal from May 31 to June 1 enemy planes bombed 28th Battaliion causing many casualties.

The Battle of Morlancourt June 10th 1918 Trench fighting and Bill went over the top
The 27th experienced heavy shelling and engagement during June and July 1918 and they had great success advancing on enemy trenches with the use of the bayonet. William Russell Goodwin Colman won the Military Cross for his leadership .

On June 9th to 10th "B" company moved to take up a central line position for the upcoming attack. The Battle of Morlancourt was to be a big offensive and the 27th was to go over the top in the first wave of the attack. The 27th had 5 killed at Morlancourt. Bill's "B" Company commander Captain Beddome was wounded in the "Jumping Off" trench to be replaced by Captain Arthur Roland Burton. The attack took place at night, June 10th 1918 at 9:45pm supported by machine guns, artillery and the medium and light trench mortar batteries. They moved forward quickly and met stubborn resistance in the trenches necessitating the use of the bayonet. Lieut J. Blackett was killed and Lieut Wood mortally wounded. Victory and consolidation took place during the night. The Battalion Aid Post received heavy enemy shelling keeping the stretcher bearers busy but saving many lives. Private B. Butler DCM and Sergeant Young disposed of 17 enemy alone as all ranks showed daring and indomitable spirit. Lieut Blackett's death was unfortunate, shot point blank and killed by a German Officer prisoner who he was trying to protect. He was buried with Lieut Wood at Franvillers Cemetry.

The 7th Brigade and the 27th Battalion were relieved on June 15 1918 and finally got some sleep after being subjected to heavy enemy shelling for three days. They moved to the Allonville area where troops bivouacked in the woods under tents and trench shelters. A confidence boost came when the Americans reinforced the front and obtained victory. The 27th were about to move on to Villers Brettonneux and on June 26th crossed the River Somme to Blangy Tronville as enemy artillery pumped high velocity and gas shells into Villers-Bretonneux village.
"The 27th Battalion Headquarters was situated on the northern side of the main Villers-Bretonneux road, about 250 yards west of the railway bridge on the western edge of the village. Consequent upon the recent success at Hamel, the Corps front line receded in a south-westerly direction at an angle of 45 degrees, and the enemy field artillery pumped high velocity and gas shells into the south-eastern edge of Villers-Bretonneux at an alarming rate. However, the demand from the Corps Commander to debouch from the edge of the village and conform to the line in general was welcomed by General Rosenthal, who, in carrying out the operation openly, gave scope to the style of warfare that suits the temperament of the Australian Infantryman, and what he jocularly refers to as “peaceful penetration.” Armed with rifle, bayonet, and Mills’ bombs, with the inner armour of self-initiative and confidence, he reaches his objective by what has been described by the German Higher Command as sheer audacity." "The Blue and Brown Diamond" pg 157

Bill was to serve in the 27th until the 12th July 1918 when he disembarked in Folkestone and reported to the Administration Headquarters London. On the 14th July 1918 he transferred to the 5th Training Battalion. On the 29th July 1918 Bill was taken on commission at the School of Instruction Devonport Garrison Gymnasium. He stayed here until 2nd October 1918 when he was taken on command to Aldershot PT and BT Course (Physical Training and Bayonet Training). Bill's youngest daughter Betty thought that Bill had been a physical training instructor. It seems he undertook bayonet training or perhaps gave instruction. He had seen action in the trenches and by this time could be considered a veteran of the front line. Being an instructor would support the notion that Bill was engaged in the stealth raids and raiding parties conducted by the 27th. It seems from war records that Bill attended these sessions but does not mention that he was an instructor. I can't imagine such experience being ignored in these training sessions!

Bill attended 50 Course Physical and Bayonet Training at Aldershot from September 30th to October 25th 1918. From his letters home to his cousin George Packer we know that he was on leave from 2nd to 16th November 1918 when his first letter was written on base at Fovant. He spent those two weeks in Scotland and appears to have celebrated the Armistice in Scotland. There is no evidence in his war records of being on leave during this period. The week prior to him taking leave appears to have been spent in Aldershot. Bill mentions in his first letter that he had met a "lovely English girl". A month later they married.
Betty, Bill's youngest daughter told of Bill meeting Lucy at Aldershot which matches his war records placement. What is not mentioned in his letters is being with Lucy while on leave in Scotland and from the solitary description of his time in Scotland it would appear she did not accompany him.

Bill's second letter was written on the 29th November 1918 after the Armistice. He talks of rumours suggesting the 27th might be sent back to France but doubts this would happen due to the cost of logistics. The next entry in Bill's official war record was that he was departing from Southampton for France on the 29th January 1919. He arrived at Le Havre France on the 30th January 1919. So the rumours he heard were indeed correct. Over the next week he moved through France to join the 27th Battalion for a fourth time in Belgium on the 8th February 1919. He then spent until 26th March 1919 in Belgium and France as he disembarked at Weymouth in England on that date. According to the Battalion history "The Blue and Brown Diamond" the 27th spent much of this time in the village of Mont-Sur-Marchienne visiting surrounding villages or attending various corps sporting events. How different to the 1916 winter on the Somme when Bill experienced some of the worst conditions of the Western Front!

War records indicate that No. 1 Company Depot received Bill upon his return to England. At this time he was married to Lucy. For three months he must have stayed in Weymouth Camp as he was granted two months leave from June 19th to August 21st 1919. As Lucy was living at 15 Cavendish Road Aldershot at the time of her marriage and Bill left for France a short time after they were married it is possible Bill lived with Lucy at the same address during his leave from Weymouth. Upon his return to England Bill undertook an education course in wool classing on 21st June 1919 hoping no doubt to return to his beloved sheep station "Log Hut" on the Darling River near Menindie. He was paid while attending. He returned to Australia via New Zealand on the "Zealandic", presumably with his new wife Lucy. An official letter in his war records dated February 17th 1920 stated that he embarked for Australia. It is unclear what role he played in England up until this time. He was discharged from the army on July 10th 1920 having enlisted in December 1915.

Two witnesses at Bill and Lucy's wedding were Eric Carnegie Alexander and Albert Victor Philpott. Eric has an entry on the Virtual War Memorial and after accessing his war records from the national archive it would appear he and Bill shared many experiences both in battle and while staying in England at the various army camps. Eric was promoted to Sergeant and survived the whole war from the very first days of Gallipoli. His brother Harold was not so lucky having died beside Eric in a trench collapse at Pozieres.

Bill and Lucy eventually settled in West Croydon Adelaide. Their house was named "Ramillies" which was a district in Belgium not far from Cambrai. Bill spent a great deal of time at Bapaume over the course of the war and probably marched the Bapaume-Cambrai road several times. Heavy enemy shelling took place in this vicinity when Bill was there in March 1918. Some memory of Ramillies must have influenced him to name his house. Unfortunately we don't know what it was- out of respect, out of victory, out of valour, a happy memory. A reminder of something worthy by the front door entrance forever!

Bill had survived the war
During this year of the Corona Virus, Covid19, it is worth noting that Bill survived the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic over 100 years earlier. He was indeed a very fortunate Australian "Digger" or perhaps he was made of the stern stuff that made the Australian outback pioneer, born in Wentworth, raised on the River Darling, herding sheep and driving bullock teams for a living and this enabled him to survive. Bill's exploits during The Great Depression, his devotion to Lucy and his love for his family are a story for another time but given his survival of The Great War in the battles and conditions described above it is little wonder he took the trials and tribulations of the 1930's in his stride.
Commanding Officer of the 27th Battalion Lt Col W Dollman, author of "The Blue and Brown Diamond" sums up the "Digger" of the AIF:
"During my tenure of command from Pozieres to Passchendaele my admiration for the "Digger" developed until it became a reverence, and, whatever faults he has, the "Digger" will always remain to me the personification of chivalry and valour."

My Grandfather William (Poppy, Bill) George Buck service # 5055 10th & 27th AIF 1915-1920


Letter no.2 from Fovant Army base November 1918

Letter written by William George Buck, 27th AIF, Service no. 5055, to his cousin George Packer living on the family property of Log Hut on the Darling River N.S.W.from Fovant Army base England.

Letter written to Poppy's cousing George Packer 13 days after the first letter transcribed by William's grandson Leigh Thompson. Letter no.2


Dear Old George
Just a line or two to let you know I am Ok. Hoping you are the same. Well old son I have set down here to write this letter tonight to tell you not to write any more letters after you get it. As I expect old kid to be on my way home by the time you get it. However if I am not I won't have time to get a reply back. There is some great commenting going on here now regarding us going back. Some say we are going in three weeks. Fuck it. Some say we are going to France but I hardly think that as it will cost them to much to send us over there then back here again. I dont care how soon I get back old son. I am just dying to clasp your hand again and to see my dear old home. I often wonder if it as changed much. I dont suppose i will know anything or anybody when I do and as for standing up a team of bullocks guess it will make you laugh. Billie Hughes gave some Australians a speech in London the other day. Said we would all be home in nine months if we wanted too. Thats all we know about it. They never tell you what you are going to do here. I suppose the first thing we will know about going back is that we weill be put on a boat before we know where we are and get told that we are on our way to Australia as they are frightened that a lot will run off if they know the are going back. Some of them took a lot of coaxing over here and its going to be just the same to get them back as there is no doubt about England its a fine place George and its the place for life but with me there is no place like home. Dont forget to come in the motor for me will you. I often wonder what it will be like to get my freedom back again. I am going to go mad for about a week so be prepared for a few days of fun in Adelaide when we meet. Ask the Mrs for three days leave. You know old kid i cant think of you as married yet but dont worry i will love Maggie the same as you. I am thinking very seriously of doing the trick myself George. Dont know how it happened. Perhaps you do you have had the experience.
Love to yourself and Maggie. Also Sis
From Loving Bro Bill. Hoping to be with you soon God Speed. Let it be soon.


Letter no.1 from Fovant Army base England 1918 to cousin in Australia

Letter written by William George Buck, 27th AIF, Service no. 5055, to his cousin George Packer living on the family property of Log Hut on the Darling River N.S.W.from Fovant Army base England.

A letter to George Packer, Poppy's cousin back in Australia, Nov 16 1918. Letter no.1
Where ?? difficult to decipher cursive writing on original 102 year old paper in pen and ink.
Transcribed from original letter written 1918 by William's grandson Leigh Thompson. Spelling and grammar as deciphered from letter.

Fovant (WW1 Military Camp 9 miles west of Salisbury in Southwest Wiltshire)
Dear George,
Hulloa old kid how are you getting on. Hope you are still keeping th old flag flying. I have just arrived back from Scotland off 14 days leave so did not get your letters until tonight. Had a splendid time up there (some place) Scotland. Well old kid the Bloody War has ended at last. Isn't it grand.
All the people have gone mad over here about it especially in London. They are like lunatics going about the streets. They have to stop all traffic at night there as God knows what would happen.
I can't really explain how they are carrying on by letter. The clearerest I can get to it is they are all the world like a lot of school children when they get their Christmas stockings at Xmas time and the noise would alomst send you deaf. They have got anything from a penny whistle to a violion and this is how they get their fun with dancing intermixed with it. Glasgow is just as bad. I was walking along the street there the day the Armistice was signed and three fellows came up and kissed me and said good old Australia and carried me shoulder high throught he crowd don't forget forget the old Aussie is getting his cut. In London he is having the best. I did not like leaving it to come back to camp but thank Jesus its not going to be very much longer now. I will soon be back to my Beloved (home) never to leave it again for any length of time. But I say George I have been captured at last but she is the best little girl in the world. If I take her back with me what will happen. I am asking you this because I want to know. You know old chap He like ??? this with me. I can't very well take a wife home to stay there at Log Hut but I want to know if you thought there was any chance of the poor old Dad giving me a start later on. You need not say anything to the others about it because I have not got engaged yet but its almost a certainty I will before I leave England and I would like to know if it would make any difference to us. I never thougt I would fall in love so badly as this one over here but you have had the experience haven't you and I am sure every one of you will love her. She is such a bonny little kid. Just like yours. I got the money you sent all right and thanks awfully George. I did not like sending for it but I was skint so could not have gone on leave without it. The schools I had to go to took all the money I had saved up. I got good grades at Aldershot that is just about as high as you can get. I would have got that only I got a little bit excited in the exam and made a mighty mistake. However that dint (didn't) make much differenece. I don't know if Harry has gone home or not. I have not heard from him for a fortnight so think he mus have gone. I hope it wont be very much longer now before I follow. I may have to go back to France again now Peace is declared to rejoin the Battalion. I hope I don't because the 1st, 2nd, 4th & 5th Division are going to march to the Rhine and its me that wants to be with them for that. If I don't there is a big chance that I will have to stay here until the last of the Australians leaves London. That means I will be one of the last to leave England for Australia. I have not seen anything of Fred Warren for ages but think he is still in England and just while I think of it I went to a surprise party while I was on leave in Glasgow and had a Bouga time. Learnt all the new dances and what do you think at the winding up they pulled me up and made me give a speech and of course i gave one and got carried shoulder high again and then they all crossed hands and formed a cirlce around me and sang Auld Lang Syne. But what do you think of me giving a speach. True speach you bet I got a fiew views while there and sent to you so hope you get them all right. They are mostly views of Lock Lomond.
Well old chap I was pleased to hear you are still having a good time very good seasons out there yet and hope you continue to have until i get back. That will be next year sometime perhaps for next shearing No chance for this one you have finished. Did old Triffles come up and see you while he was shearing at hyeot. I thought you and Miels was in together. How did you manage to get your wool away. Have any trouble. Of course you have the Menindie Railway now so allowing you did not get a river you would be able to get the wool away. By Gee the stations have been changing hands a bit since I left out there. Albena ?? Charlie ?? braught a great piece and also Maidenville/ Abaidenville ??. Say kid you are some letter writer but you know you want to be careful over three pages. Over your limit you know. How is the tanks going George. Have they filled up very much. They will just about want cleaning up when i get back won't they. Don't forget about coming down to Adelaide in the motor for us but i say don't get stuck in the mud with us. Guess you have been getting bogged a bit by your letters old chap. Their rotten things aren't they.
I can't make it out why you have not got my letters old chap but it was very hard to get letters away about that time. You were waiting so long for a letter from me. You know the Germans looked like if were going to take everything before them. So unless our letters had very little in them they would not send them so I have found out since so that accounts for you not getting any.
Rather a surprise to hear you are going to be short of meat over there George. We don't see any meat over here you can't get what you like either you have got to take what you can get and must have a meat coupon for that and they have two meatless days a week. Sugar is out of the question. Also Jam you can't buy it at any price. I am just dying to get home to get a good feed. Glad to hear you liked your dive in the Anabranch. Was it cold and did anything get wet besides yourself. I thought King?? would have lost all their silly bloody rabbits. I say I wish I had not sent those photos to all those people now but it can't be helped now. Young Jack Warren must be a ------ now. Fancy him not likeing college. By Gee George I wish I had have taken the chance that you offered a few years ago. I would have got on a lot better in this war if I had But am satisfied. I think I will have to be closing now old son. There is a lot I will tell you when I get back so just look after poor old Boss and Mater (facetious Brit word for mother??) until I get back and I know you will look after your beloved one and Maggie. So cheers old kid until we meet at Port Adelaide. With love to all
Your Loving Bill

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