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William James Hilder


Serial No:
Serial No. 1939A

19th Battalion, 18th Battalion & 20th Battalion


William James Hilder - Information

In June 1915, William watched his brother, Thomas, enlist in the AIF and leave for war. William soon made up his mind to also sign up, enlisting in Liverpool on the 25th of June 1915, aged 21. He was living with his family at Milton Park in Ingleburn, where he supported himself as a farmer. William was another son of Thomas and Eliza Hilder, born in Picton in 1896. During training, William was posted as a Private to the 3rd Reinforcements, 19th Battalion. He was then sent abroad on the HMAT Runic, which sailed from Sydney on the 9th of August 1915.

The Runic sailed to Egypt, and before long, William was sent to Gallipoli on the 29th of September. Here, he was transferred to the 18th Battalion. After the Gallipoli Campaign was called off, the troops waited on Lemnos Island. He was shipped back to Alexandria in early January 1916, and a few days later, became a Signaller at Tel-el-Kebir. In mid March, he left Alexandria for the Port of Marseilles in France. William was then wounded in action on the 29th of September with a bomb blast injuring his left leg. He was evacuated to England onboard the Hospital Ship St David for treatment. Sadly, while he was convalescing, William was informed that his brother, Thomas, had died of illness in November. He was then taken to a Brigade Hospital in December with venereal disease. He was then stationed to Hurdcott in April, where he was transferred to the 63rd Battalion. From the 14th of June until the 28th of July, William attended Southern Command Signalling School in Weymouth, becoming qualified as an assistant instructor. Then on the 4th of August, he was on command at a Brigade School. In mid October, he was shipped back to the Western Front, now assigned to the 20th Battalion. He joined them in the muddy battlefield of Ypres in Belgium, and was then transferred to the 18th Battalion in late November. In March 1918, the Germans launched their Spring Offensive with Operation Michael. This was an attempt to crush the Allies before the bulk of American troops arrived in France. William and his unit experienced the fierce fighting that ensued. Consequently, he was wounded in action a second time on the 28th of May, when he was caught in a gas attack. Three days later, he finally reached hospital in Rouen. On the 3rd of June, he was invalided to England to Reading War Hospital. While in convalescence, he was granted a much needed furlough in July. However, by September he returned to hospital again. He finally rejoined his unit on the 9th of November, three days before the signing of the Armistice. He remained with the Battalion, transported back to England in April 1919. He then embarked Liverpool onboard the Nestor on the 20th of May. When he reached Australia, he underwent a medical exam. He stated that since he was gassed, he has had a recurrent cough. He was discharged in September, and returned to his civilian life in Ingleburn.