The AIF Project

William George PITT

Regimental number119
Place of birthPaddington, Sydney, New South Wales
SchoolPaddington Public School, Sydney, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Next of kinA Pitt, 95 Elizabeth Street, Paddington, New South Wales
Previous military service5th Field Company Engineers; Served in the 5th Field Company, Army Engineers (still serving at time of AIF enlistment).
Enlistment date19 August 1914
Rank on enlistmentSapper
Unit name1st Field Company Engineers
AWM Embarkation Roll number14/20/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board Transport A19 Afric on 18 October 1914
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Field Company Engineers
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Military Medal

'Conspicuous courage, devotion to duty and valuable services as runner.' (Near Ypres 20-21 September 1917).
Recommendation date: 3 October 1917

FateDied of wounds 4 October 1917
Place of death or woundingFrance
Age at death from cemetery records22
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 7), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Alfred Nathaniel and Sarah Eliza PITT. Native of Paddington, New South Wales.
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 1757 Pte Henry James PITT, 20th Bn, returned to Australia, 11 January 1918; one other, returned, cannot be further identified.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 3 March 1915.

Admitted to hospital, Gallipoli, 4 May 1915; transferred to 2nd Stationary Hospital, Lemnos Island, 5 May 1915 (rheumatism); to Convalescent Camp, Helouan, Egypt, 14 May 1915; discharged to duty at Base Details, Zeitoun, 5 June 1915. Admitted to 1st Australian General Hospital, Alexandria, 2 August 1915 (dysentery); transferred to New Zealand and Australian Convalescent hospital, 20 August 1915. Proceeded to rejoin unit at Gallipoli,, 19 October 1915. Disembarked Alexandria, 27 December 1915 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 21 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 28 March 1916.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 20 September 1917.

Army Corps Commander expressed appreciation of his gallant services rendered during recent operations: 1st Anzac Routine Norder No. 88.

Wounded in action, Belgium, 4 October 1917; subsequently reported wounded and missing in action. Court of Enquiry, 31 March 1918, determined fate as 'died of wounds'.

Statement by 16174 Sapper G.A. BURGE, 1st Field Company Engineers, Canterbury, England, 21 April 1918: 'L/Cpl W.G. PITT was wounded at Zonnebeke on the 4th October 1917. On that day I was in No. 5 section a little in rear of No. 3 Section to which Pitt belonged, and when a stretcher [was

passing us, someone said, "That is Billy Pitt on that stretcher". I did not hear any more about him for some weeks, when it was freely spoken in the Company that Pitt had died of wounds in England.' Statement by 2162 Pte R.J. DENNY, 1st Field Company Engineers, Sutton Veny, England, 6 February 1918: 'No. 119 L/Cpl Pitt W.G. !st F.C.E. was severely wounded on the 4.10.1917. He was carried back to the advance dressing station but I am unable to say what happened to him subsequently.'

Personal effects being returned to family on board 'Barunga' were lost when the ship was sunk.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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