William Frederick NAIRN


NAIRN, William Frederick

Service Numbers: 3563, 3563A
Enlisted: 24 August 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Mallala, South Australia, 4 August 1897
Home Town: Mallala, Mallala, South Australia
Schooling: Grace Plains School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Sepsis Cardiac Weakness, Grafenwöhr, Bavaria, Germany, 21 September 1916, aged 19 years
Cemetery: Niederzwehren Cemetery
IV. H. 10.
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Goolwa Soldiers Memorial Gardens WW1 Memorial, Mallala District of Grace WW1 Roll of Honor, Mallala District of Grace WW1 Roll of Honor, Mallala Grace Plains School Honor Roll, Mallala Grace Plains Sunday School Pictorial Honour Board, Mallala War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

24 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, SN 3563, Adelaide, South Australia
12 Jan 1916: Embarked Private, SN 3563, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Adelaide
12 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3563, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
28 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 10th Infantry Battalion
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3563A, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
21 Aug 1916: Imprisoned Battle for Pozières
21 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 3563A, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , Left Thigh

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Private William Frederick Nairn:

William Frederick Nairn was born on August the 4th 1897 in Mallala, South Australia. He was the son James and Emma Caroline Nairn who were a predominant farming family within the region of Mallala. For his schooling William Nairn attended the Grace Plains School until he was 14 and had finished 7th grade. After this he returned to his family farm and began to work as a farmer.

Eager to join up, he patiently waited until he turned 18 years old on the 4th of August, 1915, before enlisting on the 10th of August, 1915. After several letters home to his mother in Mallala to confirm his age he was placed in the 27th Battalion, consisting mainly of South Australians.

On the 11th of January 1916 he boarded H.M.A.T. Borda (A30) in Adelaide with the rest of the 27th Battalion bound for Egypt where he underwent training. On the 28th of February, 1916, when still in Egypt, he was transferred to the 10th Battalion. Again this battalion was mainly made up of South Australians troops. On the 27th of March, 1916 William Fred Nairn embarked at Alexandria and sailed with the rest of the 10th Battalion to France. He disembarked at Marseille, on the 3rd of April, 1916.

Moved north to train, William Nairn was later posted to the ‘nursery’ or the quiet Armentières section of the Western Front for several months where he was introduced to trench warfare. However, he and the 10th Battalion were moved south to the Somme region as a reserve unit in the Somme Offensive to begin on the 1st of July 1916.

During the Somme Offensive the 10th Battalion was moved to the front line and saw extensive action during the Battle of Pozières and again in the Battle of Mouquet Farm. Somewhere between the 19th and 23rd of August, 1916, during the Battle of Pozières (or more particuloarly the Mouquet Farm phase of the fighting) Private William Fred Nairn was shot in the left upper thigh and began to lose an extensive amount of blood due to this injury. He was reported ‘Missing in Action’ on the 23rd of August.

On the 23rd of August, William Nairn was taken prisoner by German Forces and moved to the Prisoner of War Hospital at Grafenwohr north-east of Nuremberg in Germany. He was admitted into the hospital on the 12th of September with severe weakness (as an artery had been hit in his thigh) and a broken left leg. By this time his leg had already been in a plaster for some time without the wound having even been treated. On the 15th of September it was decided to amputate his left leg and William Nairn seemed to improve for some time. Then on the 20th of September his condition worsened, before William Nairn died on the 21st of September, 1916 at 3:30am. He officially died of sepsis cardiac weakness, not his wounds, and was buried at the Grafenwohr Prisoner of War Cemetery nearby. He was aged 19.

In 1924 his body was exhumed from the cemetery and reburied at the Niederzwehren Cemetery, Germany. The cemetery contains many allied POW’s that died of wounds or illness during the war.

Sometimes known as James or Jim for short, he was remembered by many as very young soldier.  

British War Medal: 29983

Victory Medal: 29801.


Nathan Rohrlach, 2013.