William Herbert Wright
Service number 2276
Private. Initially L Coy 45th Battalion, then 4th reinforcements 53rd Battalion at embarkation
Enlisted 3 March 1916 at Bathurst, medical at Sydney Town Hall Recruiting Depot
Embarked 11 July 1916 HMAT Vest(r)alia
Arrived in France 21 November 1916
Transferred to 1st Battalion 9 March 1917
Wounded in action 5-8 May 1917 (shot) Bullecourt
Admitted 3 Casualty Clearing Station, transported by 9th Ambulance train to 3 GH (Le Treport – British) then to 3 Convalescent Depot
Rejoined battalion in the field 27 August 1917
Severely wounded in left leg 12 October 1917—battalion had just seen action at Passchendaele Ridge. Sent to 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol (England)
Returned to Australia per HMAT Somali 10 December 1918
Place of birth Victoria, Australia
Pre-war lived at Coota Park near Cowra
Occupation farmer and grazier
Appearance 5’8”, brown eyes, brown hair
Age 27 at enlistment
Service commemorated at Cowra and District War Memorial Honor Roll (101 Brisbane St, Cowra)
In France William was gassed and had a bullet through his leg. The bullet left a hole in his leg—it is said you could poke a small stick through the hole. (He died when I was one year old so I can’t vouch for that statement). He was invalided to England and recovered enough to go back to France. I am told that as a result of the gas he had nasty stomach pains for the rest of his life and his injured leg was always cold.
He did not really talk about it—he only spoke with old soldier mates about it and would not let his daughters hear them talk about it.
William’s family had moved from Yarraberb in Victoria to Coota Park near Cowra in NSW in 1897. The journey by bullock cart took 31 days.
William was one of seven children, three boys and four girls. As far as is known, William is the only one to have joined up.
I found it interesting that my grandfather’s mother (Margaret Bill) was from a German family from Eaglehawk in Victoria. We do not know how she felt about her son going to fight Germans and we don’t know of any ill-feeling against her during WWI. She was very lady-like, quietly spoken and worked as a teacher for a time (apparently she exerted instant control without raising her voice).
After the war Grandpa returned to the property (Coota Park) which he co-managed. He married but his wife (and their baby) died in childbirth. He subsequently married my grandmother and they had two daughters. My grandmother died of cancer in 1945, at only 45 years of age.
At some point Grandpa left Coota Park and moved into Cowra. He then lived at Robertson and had a job managing a garage, then he moved to Sydney and had various jobs—and sometimes none at all. At one stage he invested and managed eucalyptus trees with a view to selling the oil, but drought wrecked that plan. He ultimately got a job with retailer Marcus Clark and was basically a travelling salesman. He worked in that job up until 2 weeks before his death at age 74 in 1963.