William Rowland GREIG


GREIG, William Rowland

Service Number: 2169
Enlisted: 10 May 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Willowie, South Australia, 14 May 1893
Home Town: Willowie, Mount Remarkable, South Australia
Schooling: Willowie Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Died of wounds, France, 26 June 1918, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-sur-Somme
Plot 3, Row C, Grave 8, Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy St Pierre, Amiens, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Willowie Memorial Hall Stained Glass Window 1, Willowie Schools and District Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

10 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2169, Adelaide, South Australia
12 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2169, 48th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
12 Aug 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2169, 48th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Adelaide
24 Jun 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2169, 48th Infantry Battalion, German Spring Offensive 1918, Acting as a Quartermaster-Storeman, Bill was delivering rations to the front line when he was seriously wounded by a bomb dropped on the ration dump by a German plane. He suffered blast wounds to his arm and back and died on the 26 June 1918.
26 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2169, 48th Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"

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Biography contributed by Di Barrie

William (Bill) Rowland Greig was born 14 May 1893, at Willowie the ninth of ten children of David and Mary (nee Peake) GREIG, farmers of Willowie. He attended the Willowie School and farmed in partnership with two of his brothers, Sydney Campbell and Roy Stewart Clarence Greig after his parents retired to Adelaide in 1914.

He enlisted on 10 May 1916 in Adelaide, into the 48 Battalion 4 Reinforcements. His father had passed away in 1915 so he named his elder brother, Sydney Campbell GREIG, as next of kin. On his medical form he was 22 years 11 months, height 5’8” (172cm), weight 150lbs (68kg), with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. His occupation was listed as farmer and his religion as Methodist.

The unit embarked from Adelaide on board HMAT A70 ‘Ballarat’ on 12 August 1916. (AWM Embarkation Roll 23/65/3) and Bill was listed as a Private, 48 Battalion. He disembarked in Plymouth UK on the 30 September 1916.

The 48 Battalion was raised in Egypt in 1916 from Gallipoli veterans and reinforcements from Australia. Many of the men came from regional South Australia and Western Australia and it formed part of the 12 Brigade. William proceeded to France on the 29 December 1916 after training in England. On 18 February William received a gunshot wound to the chest and was transferred back to England for treatment of a Pneumothorax. On the 2 May 1917 he marched in to Weymouth Command Depot 2 for training until he returned to his unit on the 30 September 1917.

The 48 Battalion participated in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium and there was fierce and consistent fighting on the frontline where the 48 Battalion was in the thick of it most of the time. By December William had developed Trench Fever from the terrible conditions the soldiers were forced to endure and was hospitalised for 2 weeks. He re-joined his unit from the Field Hospital on the 27 December 1917. 

The 48 Battalion was then involved in holding their ground along the Somme Front, and William took on the duties of a Quartermaster-storeman, and during delivery of rations to the front line on the 24 June 1918, William was seriously wounded by a bomb dropped on the ration dump by a German plane. He suffered blast wounds to his arm and back and died on the 26 June 1918 from his wounds at the 5 Casualty Clearing Station. He is buried at the Crouy British Cemetery at Crouy-Sur-Somme, Plot 3, Row C, Grave No. 8. William’s mother Mary was presented with the British War Medal and his Victory Medal following his death.

William is commemorated on the:

  • Willowie School & Districts Honour Roll: Willowie Memorial Hall
  • Willowie Church Memorial Windows: Willowie Memorial Hall
  • The Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Panel 145,
  • The SA War Memorial North Tc Adelaide

On the 28th May 1918 Bill wrote a letter to his friend Clarry Schmidt detailing his experiences and noting some of the friends and neighbours he had met up with in France. His brother Roy had been keeping him in the news on local events. Bill was seriously injured and died just four weeks later.

Source: "Diggers From the Dust" Di Barrie & Andrew Barrie 2018.


28th May 1918

Dear Pal,

I received yours of March 3rd today and I got one written in November a week or two ago it was a long while on the road I could not make out why I had not heard from you thought you must be married but was glad to hear you had made progress in that direction. I hope to be back in time for the tin kettling but am afraid I will be too late. We have been kept pretty busy the last two months we came out of the line a week ago after being in for twenty-five days and we expect to go in again very soon.

 We have been in some lively stunts this year but so far, I have come through alright.

Birdwood presented a lot of our fellows with decorations a few days ago amongst them was Corporal Wilf Thomas with the D.C.M. Just what he got it for I don’t know but I saw him just after the stunt and he had bullet holes through both sleeves and one had cut his tunic right across the chest, so he evidently was in a warm corner, in fact most of us were on that occasion. We had lovely weather this last time in it, was quite a treat with no mud.

 There were 4 large towns just behind our line this time the civilians left in a hurry we were living flash in the trenches I can assure you with feather mattresses to lay on that we salvaged from the ruins The lads were often merry and bright as every other house in a French town is a boozer. We were right long side the froggies they hopped the bag with us in the stunt a night attack, I can’t describe what it was like though it was some fire-works it is rather an exciting experience climbing through barb wire in the dark with bullets whizzing past or cutting up the dirt at your feet or when Fritz fires a flare up and lights everything up like day and you get down in a hurry trying to hide in some small hole or behind a little bank that wouldn’t hide your tin hat leave alone yourself it is marvellous how so few get hit we did not have many casualties and we got seventy prisoners. We are having the time of our lives here now swimming in the Canal and in the Civilian Baths if we like they are holding a swimming sport here tomorrow

I saw West Bristow, Alex McMillan, and Mitch Brooks about a month ago they are all looking well haven’t altered much. I have just found out what Battalion Bob Tilbrook belonged too I went to dig him up and found out he had been killed. Stiff luck isn’t it after him being going such a long time. We have been in the same Division all the time here and I never happened to see him although we have often passed his battalion.

 I have got a non-combatant job now, Quartermaster Storeman so while I hang to this I won’t be going in the line. I have had a good spin of boxing on a bit of a cool off for a while will be a change.

Well I must close hoping this finds you all as well as it leaves me. Remember me to all my old tabs

Your Old Pal,


(Roy told me in his letter that F E is married it is just like old Stump to make up his mind one minute and do it the next. If he didn’t he would be sure to change his mind).

Contributed by the family of Clarrie Schmidt to whom the letter was written.