William Hurtle KLEEMAN

KLEEMAN, William Hurtle

Service Number: 4808
Enlisted: 24 August 1915, at Adelaide
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, September 1885
Home Town: Magill, Campbelltown, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: School teacher
Died: Kensington, South Australia, Australia, 19 December 1954, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, Murray Town Enlistments Memorial, Norwood Primary School Honour Board, South Australian Education Department Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

24 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4808, 10th Infantry Battalion, at Adelaide
9 Mar 1916: Involvement Private, 4808, 10th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: RMS Mongolia embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
9 Mar 1916: Embarked Private, 4808, 10th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mongolia, Adelaide

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Biography contributed by St Ignatius' College

William Hurtle Kleeman was born in Adelaide, South Australia in approximately September 1885. William was brought up by both of his parents in Adelaide.

William had blue eyes, Light brown hair and was 5’7 feet. This young man met a young woman and they eventually married, her name was Lillian Jane Kleeman. The two moved in together and lived at 13 Opie Street St Peters. (Possibly was re-named Elizabeth Street).

The benefit of William being so educated and interested in the education department gave him a great opportunity to become a teacher himself and share his skills. Surprisingly, becoming a public high school teacher wasn't his only passion. William had also been enrolled in the militia since the sprightly age of 13, roughly this means he would have joined in the year 1901. Possibly he would be following in his father's footsteps, maybe this was a passion of his own. 

The militia is commonly an army or other special forces fighting organisation of non-professional citizens or soldiers. These men and women who are involved in the militia can be called by military service in desperate times to call them into war to be full-time military personnel. These men would have included William.

In 1914, the First World War had broken out. This war would later be known as one of the worst events in history.

Australia's first significant action was the attack on Gallipoli in April 1915. The aim of Gallipoli was intended for Germany's ally, Turkey to get forced out of the War. This originally began as a naval campaign: British battleships were sent to attack Constantinople, now known as Istanbul. British battleships were unable to force their way through the Dardanelles. This failed attempt led to the intense fighting at Gallipoli.  

William enlisted on 24 August 1915, and trained in Australia for several months before embarking from Adelaide on the RMS Mongolia. This large transport ship would sail to Egypt (making a shortstop at Albany) for the disembarkation. Shortly afterwards, William continued to England. When William arrived in England and joined his unit it was the 9th of August 1916.  

On the 18th of March 1917 William moved units. Originally, he was in the 10th battalion, now he would be in the 21st machine gun battalion. Machine guns were self-powered machines which relied on the pull of a trigger. These machines were able to fire out 100's of bullets in a matter of seconds. Machine guns were targeted as they were so powerful and very important in defending the trenches. As part of the 21st Machine Gun Company, and from April 1918 the 1st Machine Gun Battalion (both part of the 1st AIF Division), William woud have taken part in the battles of Bullecourt in May 1917, Menin Road in September, Broodseinde in October, and Hazebrouck in April 1918.

William constantly kept in contact with his wife home in Australia. On the 17th May 1917, Lillian wrote a handwritten letter expressing her distress on her Husband as she hadn't heard from him for some time now. Everyone would have sympathy for Lillian. Lillian must have been afraid while her husband was at war. Putting his life on the line and not being able to have the comfort of an “I love you” in times of distress in her life. The reason why Lillian wasn’t receiving any letters is it was presumed his letters were getting lost due to the transfer between units. (10th battalion and Machine gun corps)

In mid-1918, William is selected to travel to England as a candidate for officer training. When the armistice took effect on 11 November 1918, he was currently situated in England. It would be a long and tiring two months before William would be commissioned to an officer. William decided to not reunite with his unit rather he be sent off to join the general reinforcement pool. This time at the reinforcement pool would have been a difficult and mentally draining for William as he would have no purpose. This is how most of the men would feel, I imagine, as they have just risked their lives at a war. The war has now ended yet they are still participating in cleaning up war material such as old rifles, helmets, equipment stockpiles, barbed wire and digging up and the process of re-burial of tens of thousands of bodies. This would remind them of the challenges they had to face, the friends they have lost and may contribute to shell shock.

During William's time at war, he proved himself to be valuable and contributed to everything, whether this meant pushing himself to the limits and putting his life on the line. For William's effort, he was rewarded the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) on the 17th of June 1918. This would have made William very distinctive as only a small handful of soldiers had the privilege to be wearing a medal ribbon on their tunic. Most medals were rewarded to the soldiers when the war was over, unless for gallantry or meritorious medals. Not only was he awarded the Meritorious service medal but on his return to Australia, William received the War medal and Victory medal. The war medal was awarded to those who had served 28 days of service. William was also appointed the Victory medal upon arrival to Australia as well. The victory medal was awarded to those for their service.

Whilst William was at War he was able to prove himself that he was dedicated to this life, this was proven as he excelled and eventually became a Sergeant and 2nd Lieutenant. 

On the 31st October 1919, William was discharged from the AIF. This long period of 19 years contributing to Australian service should be recognised and he should be applauded for all his efforts. 

Unfortunately, in December 1954 William Hurtle Kleeman passed away at the age of 68 from natural causes in his Kensington home. William was buried at Centennial Park in the south of Adelaide. His wife Lilian Jane Kleeman died on the 2nd of August 1971 and is buried right above William.