The AIF Project

William Herbert WISE

Regimental number2169
Place of birthAllandale, Victoria
SchoolState School, Victoria
ReligionMethodist
OccupationLabourer
Address118 Mile Gate, Dumbleyung, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation23
Height5' 8"
Weight148 lbs
Next of kinSister, Mrs Eliza A. Andrews, 'Kiaora', Kent Road, Denmark, Western Australia
Previous military serviceNil (previously rejected for military service due to flat feet)
Enlistment date2 May 1916
Place of enlistmentBelmont, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name44th Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/61/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on 10 October 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll44th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Age at death from cemetery records24
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
139
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Stephen and Mary Louisa WISE
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Fremantle, 10 October 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 2 December 1916, and marched into 3rd Training Bn the same day.

Proceeded overseas to France from 11th Training Bn, 4 February 1917, and marched into 3rd Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples, the same day.

Proceeded to unit, 6 February 1917; taken on strength of 44th Bn, in the field, 8 February 1917.

Wounded in action by a shell, 6 March 1917, and remained on duty; admitted to No 9 Australian Field Ambulance, 19 April 1917 (foreign body in forehead); transferred to No 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, 19 April 1917; discharged, 3 May 1917; rejoined unit, 6 May 1917.

On leave to United Kingdom, 8 February 1918; rejoined unit, 24 February 1918.

Killed in action, 4 July 1918.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Statement, Red Cross File No 3000505D, 2099 Pte W.T. HOLWILL, B Company, 44th Bn, 19 February 1919: 'I saw him killed by a shell instantly advancing on the support line at Hamel, was wounded myself by a piece of the same shell[;] do not know where buried ...'

Second statement, 400 Sergeant W.C. CLARK, B company, 44th Bn, 1 May 1919: 'I didn't see [7492 Pte E.R.] Kelly and wise (both of B. Co) killed by shell during the Hamel stunt and quite near the objective abt. 7 a.m. Grace was killed at the same time. It was on the left of Acroches Hill[.] I don't know where they were hit. They were buried near Vaux-sur-Somme.'

Third statement, 1629 Lance Sergeant A.Q. BOLAND,44th Bn, 1 September 1919: 'I was told by my pals that Wise had been killed at Hamel by a shell while he was working on his Lewis Gun. Afterwards I went along and saw his grave at Hamel, the cross was erected. I have a photo of the grave which I have shown to your searcher E.L. Myers.'

Fourth statement, 6145 Driver H.W. LARTER, 44th Bn, 7 April 1919: 'Just after the hop over at Hamel he was hit by a shell and killed outright. This information was received by Witness from those who were present at the time, and about a week later he saw the grave in the open on the side of a hill about ½ mile from Hamel. A few others had been buried at the same spot and a wooden Cross was erected over Wise.'

Note on Red Cross File, 14 July 1919: 'Buried about 400 yds E of Hamel. 200 yds N of Road. 600 yds S.W. of Wood'.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, WISE William Herbert
Red Cross File No 3000505D

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