Monday, April 23, 2012

His luck ran out

This post was prepared for the ANZAC Day Blog Challenge organised by Auckland City Libraries. 

William James Gowans enlisted on 17 August 1914  and set sail from Sydney on 20 October 1914 on HMAT Euripides.

His war service file at The National Archives of Australia indicates that Private William James Gowans wrenched his knee while carrying ammunition at Gallipoli on 25/4/1915.  It appears as though Gowans must have carried on with his soldiering activities as he is reported as receiving a bullet wound to the head on 27/4/1915.

A Sydney Morning Herald article  "Heroes of the Dardanelles" on 18/5/1915 reported:

William James Gowans
PRIVATE W. J. GOWANS (Petersham).



Private W. J. Gowans, of B. Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, who has been reported wounded, is 24 years or age. He is an engineer by trade, and is a son of Mr. W. P. Gowans, St. Leonards, 188 Albany-road, Petersham.

In a medical report dated 19/11/1915 the following treatment was ordered "Major Wade suggests one month's fun then treatment".

William, my husband's great-uncle, was 23 years and 10 months when he joined the AIF on the 24th September 1914. He was discharged to Australia on 16th October 1915 on the Beltana and discharged as unfit for service on 13th August 1916. No doubt William felt fortunate in having survived the carnage at Gallipoli.  William received a pension of three pounds per fortnight from the government from 14/8/1916 ; I do not know if he was able to return to his work as an engineer.

William can be counted among the lucky ones who returned to Australia. His luck, however, was shortlived; this notice appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald of 12/5/1919:

GOWANS.-May 10, 1919, in his 29th year. William
James Gowans, late 4th Batt., A.I.F., eldest son of  
William P and Eliza Ann Gowans, of Mena, Eu-
rella-street. Burwood.

Older family members have indicated that William was a victim of the flu epidemic of 1919. William is buried in the Old Presbyterian Section of Rookwood Cemetery. His untended grave surrounded by rubbish is deteriorating; I took my photographs about ten years ago before we cleaned away the undergrowth. 


Fi said...

It's a miracle any of them survived the landing at Gallipoli. Such a sad ending for him. Thanks for sharing his story.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Ironic isn't it, that he succumbed to the flu epdidemic, yet others who survived Gallipol and the Western Front went on to live to great old age. Very sad for his family and for him.


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