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Francis Edward Williams


Serial No:
Serial No. 6204

19th Battalion & 17th Battalion

St Andrews

Francis Edward Williams - Information

When Francis decided to enlist in the AIF, he was living on Bonny St in Sans Souci with his family. Francis was born in St Andrews c1898. When he was older, he served 12 months in the militia and found work as a driver. At the age of 18, he signed up to the AIF at the Royal Showground Camp on the 9th of August 1916. Training at Cootamundra and at Liverpool, he was assigned to the 7th Reinforcements, 19th Battalion as a Private. He was then shipped out for war service, departing Sydney on the 25th of October 1916 onboard the HMAT Ascanius.

Francis landed in Devonport at the end of December. He was then marched into the 5th Training Battalion in Rollestone. After further exercises, he left Southampton for France on the 22nd of May. The following month, he was taken on strength to the 19th Battalion. Francis and his unit then participated in operations during the Third Battle of Ypres. Fighting here was miserable. Heavy rainfall turned the battlefield into a sodden quagmire of mud, where one slip could mean death by drowning. After a bitter winter, fierce fighting erupted following the German Spring Offensive in March 1918. The 19th Battalion hit the Germans at Hangard Wood in early April, helping to slow the German advance. In July, wanting a break from the destruction, he went absent without leave for three days and was subsequently fined 19 days pay. Successfully thwarting the German offensive, the Allies developed their own campaign with the Battle of Amiens and Mont St Quentin in August. However, Francis remained desperate to escape the battlefield. Having disciplinary problems, he was transferred to the 17th Battalion on the 11th of October. He was then brought before a Field General Court Martial just ten days later. He was charged with going AWL while on active service for a few hours on the 2nd of that month. Despite the fact that he had turned himself in at Peronne, he was found guilty and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment at hard labour. This was luckily commuted to 6 months. On the 7th of December, even though the war had ended, Francis was taken to Prison. In April 1919, his sentence was remitted, and he returned to duty in England. Francis arrived back in Australia on the 22nd of June 1920.