The AIF Project


Regimental number4223
Place of birthEssendon, Victoria
SchoolSt Ambrose Catholic School, Brunswick, Victoria
ReligionRoman Catholic
Address166 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation24
Next of kinWife, Mrs S Brennan, 166 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date27 April 1915
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name2nd Field Ambulance, Reinforcement 8
AWM Embarkation Roll number26/45/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A68 Anchises on 26 August 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll50th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularName given on RoH circular as William Joseph BRENNAN.
FateKilled in Action 24 October 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death25
Age at death from cemetery records25
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), 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: Michael and Mary BRENNAN; husband of S. BRENNAN, 107 Argyle Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Proceeded to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, 19 October 1915. Taken on strength, 2nd Field Ambulance, Mudros, 26 October 1915. Found guilty of being absent from parade, 14 November 1915 (Anzac): awarded 3 days' Field Punishment No. 2. Found guilty, Mudros, of being absent from camp without permission, 7 am, 19 November, to 11.43 am, 22 November 1915: awarded 21 days' Field Punishment No. 2.

Disembarked Alexandria from Mudros, 3 December 1915. Found guilty, Tel el Kebir, 19 January 1916, of being absent from all parades on 18 January 1916: awarded 21 days' Field Punishment No. 2. Transferred to 14th Field Ambulance, 24 February 1916.

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 20 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 30 June 1916. Found guilty, 6 July 1916, of 'whilst on Active Service disobeying an order': awarded 7 days' Field Punishment No. 2.

Admitted to 14th Field Ambulance, 14 October 1916 (synovitis, knee); transferred to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, 15 October 1916; rejoined unit, 2 November 1916.

Found guilty of being absent whilst a patient, 9.30 pm to 9.45 pm, 27 October 1916: awarded 14 days' Field Punishment No. 2. Found guilty, 16 November 1916, of being absent without leave from 8 am, 5 November 1916, until apprehended by the MPs at Havre about 6.55 pm, 6 November 1916: awarded 28 days' Field Punishment No. 2 and forfeiture of 2 days' RW.

Found guilty by Field General Court Martial, 13 December 1916, of 'When on active service deserting His Majesty's Service in that he on 22-11-16 absented himself without leave from an Advance Dressing Station until apprehended by the MPs at Boulogne on 25-11-1916'. Pleaded Not Guilty. Sentenced to Death; sentence confirmed by GOC 4th Army, 23 December 1916, but varied to 5 years' Penal Servitude. Admitted to No. 1 Military Prison, Rouen, 13 December 1916. Sentence commuted to 2 years' Imprisonment with Hard Labour, 11 January 1917; C-in-C remitted 6 months of sentence, 6 February 1917. Released from prison, 17 July 1917, and remainder of sentence suspended.

Taken on strength, 30th Bn, 1 August 1917. Found guilty, 23 September 1917, of being absent without leave, 9.30 pm, 2 August 1917, to 2.30 pm, 17 August 1917: awarded 14 days' Field Punishment No. 2, and forfeiture of 30 days' pay.

Killed in action, 24 October 1917.

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

Print format