William Day
Service number 1672

Private William Day landed on the Gallipoli peninsula towards the end of the ill-fated campaign, almost two months after the Australians had launched their last major offensive against the Turks.

A carpenter, William, 25, of Beaudesert, enlisted on May 26, 1915, and was among the 2nd reinforcements of the 25th Battalion. Comprising mostly Queenslanders, the battalion had been raised at Enoggera in Brisbane two months earlier.

William left Brisbane on the HMAT Shropshire on August 17 and landed at Gallipoli on October 2, joining other members of the 25th Battalion who had arrived in September.

Official histories claim that the 25th Battalion had a “relatively quiet time” at Gallipoli after landing on the peninsula following the failed August campaign that had been turned back by the Turks. Until the battalion was evacuated from the peninsula on December 18, its major role was holding its position.

In the days following the evacuation on December 18, William Day was treated for jaundice, firstly at Lemnos Island and then Mudros. When the battalion returned to Egypt, he was hospitalised in Alexandria with jaundice and rheumatism.

Having been transferred to the 15th Training Battalion, William left Alexandria for England on June 11, 1916, and after arriving on June 29 went to Lark Hill, on Salisbury Plain, for further training.

William embarked for France on August 9 and rejoined the 25th Battalion on August 24, after it had suffered 785 casualties at the Battle of Pozieres that month. In November, William was made a temporary Corporal, after Corporal Leslie Giles was evacuated wounded, with the promotion becoming permanent.

Troops billeted near Bullecourt, France, May 1917.

(Image: Australian War Memorial; Public Domain)

“Served at Gallipoli and the Western Front.”

Detached for workshop duty with the Sussex Royal Engineers.

After a brief respite in Belgium, the 25th returned to the Somme Valley in October. It fought two battles at Flers, where the mud was perhaps as much an enemy as the German Army.

The battalion also played a supporting role at the second battle of Bullecourt from May 3 to 17, 1917. Although the village had little strategic importance, a fortnight of fighting proved costly, with three Australian divisions suffering a total of 7482 casualties.

On July 15, William was detached for duty with the Sussex Royal Engineers Technical Corps. He was still with corps workshops a year later.

Although the 25th Battalion was disbanded in October, 1918, and its men used to reinforce other battalions, William now nominally part of the 26th Battalion, remained on detachment to the 2nd Field Company Engineers while he continued to serve.

In January 1919, suffering jaundice, William was transferred from France to England where he was admitted to the Graylingwell War Hospital in Chichester.

He boarded the Wandilla at Southampton on March 31 to return to Australia and arrived in Brisbane on May 25, four years after enlisting in the AIF. On July 17, William was discharged as medically unfit with catarrhal jaundice.

Almost 50 years later, when the Gallipoli Medallion was instituted in 1967, William Day, then living at Duringan Street, Currumbin, applied for the medal and lapel badge to which he was entitled.

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