William Henry Brigden
Serial No. 4638
18th Battalion & 3rd Machine Gun Battalion
William Henry Brigden - Information
William was born in Waterloo in 1894 to George and Emma Brigden. He later lived in Orangeville near Camden with his brother Albert, and supported himself as a farmer. When he was 21, he decided to enlist in the AIF, as many of his friends and family had already gone. He signed up in Casula on the 19th of January 1916, and was assigned to the 11th Reinforcements, 18th Battalion. Before his was shipped out, the locals gave William and other boys from the area a farewell at The Oaks in February. Speeches were given in which the boys were congratulated for serving the Allies’ cause. He departed Sydney on the 9th of April 1916 upon the HMAT Nestor.
William set down in England for further training. In early September, he proceeded to the Western Front, joining the 18th Battalion on the 23rd in Belgium. In October, they came south again to the Somme battlefield, which was plagued by heavy winter rains. William reported sick on the 23rd of November. He was in hospital for a few days before being detached for duty on Camp Details. He returned to his unit on the 17th of January 1917. Life in the trenches was miserable, and sanitary conditions were quite poor. As a result, William reported to hospital in Rouen in late May with trench fever. He was then evacuated to England to the Southwark Military Hospital in Dulwich. He needed some rest and he was released later in the year. He was then transferred to the Machine Gun Corps in Grantham for training. After mastering this form of rapid fire, he returned to France in April 1918. He was marched out to the Machine Gun Base Depot in Camiers. He was then taken on strength to the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion on the 17th. Arriving in the nick of time, his skills were sorely needed. The Germans had broken through the Allied lines with their Spring Offensive, causing a general retreat. It was up to the Australian Corps to help halt the advance. Saving the rail junction at Amiens, the Allies began to push back, launching their own offensive in August, and eventually smashed through the Hindenburg Line. Throughout these battles, William provided superb fire support. William survived the war and was sent back to Australia on the Themistocles on the 12th of June 1919.