William Albert Gee
Serial No. 3241
30th Battalion & 56th Battalion
William Albert Gee - Information
William Albert was born near Webbs Creek in Hawkesbury c1897 to James and Alice Gee. The Gees then settled in Ingleburn. William completed a 2 year apprenticeship and became a motor mechanic. Shortly after he turned 18 years old, he decided to enlist in the AIF. He signed up in Casula on the 14th of February 1916. During training, William was made a Private with the 7th Reinforcements, 30th Battalion. He then boarded the HMAT Hororata in Sydney for war service on the 2nd of May 1916.
William landed in Suez, Egypt on the 9th of June. He then proceeded to England and was marched into the 8th Training Battalion at Larkhill, joining the 30th Battalion. After this, he was shipped to the Western Front in mid November. At the beginning of December, he left the 5th Australian Division Base Depot to be taken on strength to the 56th Battalion. At the time, operations were winding down for the winter. In March 1917, William was detached to the 8th Field Company Engineers. However, the bitter weather, affected William's health, bringing him to hospital in April. He rejoined his unit on the 4th of May. Later in the year, the 56th Battalion participated in operations during the Third Battle of Ypres, fighting at Polygon Wood. After months of endless combat in the mud, the Anzacs were utterly exhausted. By the end of the year, they were resting out of the lines. In March 1918, the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. The Allies were now in dire trouble; the German Army broke through the lines, causing a massive retreat. The 5th Australian Division were mustered and moved to Corbie in defence. The 56th Battalion helped to halt the German onslaught at Villers-Bretonneux, saving the village. Then using tactics of peaceful penetration, the Australian Corps were able to nibble away at the German's recent gains. They made significant progress following an Allied Offensive in August. Capturing Peronne in September, the 56th Battalion then headed towards St Quentin Canal. During the attack at Peronne on the 1st of September, William was working as a Company Signaller. He then also volunteered for duty as a Company Runner, and was pivotal in sending messages back and forth from Headquarters. Carrying these communiqués in exposed positions, he was constantly hounded by artillery and machine gunfire. His heroic actions and volunteering for dangerous duty inspired those around him and he was recommended for the Military Medal, and mentioned in despatches. William was luckily taken to England for leave from the 18th of October until the 6th of November. William's unit was on relief when the war ended on the 11th of November. He remained with them until he was sent back to Australia on the 23rd of June 1919.