Portion of William John Baulch's WWI service record, front page

In Memoriam: Private William John Baulch

Story

William John BAULCH William John BAULCH was born in 1879 in Nirranda, Victoria, Australia when his father Charles was 28 and his mother Elizabeth (nee BROWN) was 22 [1].

William's father, Charles BAULCH (1851-1928) was born in Longford, Tasmania, Australia, to Enoch BAULCH and Honor MEADE. William's mother, Elizabeth Mary BROWN (1857-1928) was born in Victoria. Together, Charles and Elizabeth had 10 children in 15 years.

William had 4 brothers and 5 sisters, including Charles Thomas (1875-1955), Elizabeth Honor (1877-1881), Joseph Enoch (1881-1944), Arthur Spendelow (1883-1940), Irena Mede (1885-1967), Ethel Louisa (1888-1980), Leslie James (1891-1974), Lilian Selina (1893-1904), and Evelyn Alice (1900-1994).

William John BAULCH was my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.


Events

Event Date Details (linked person, location, note)
Birth 1879 Nirranda, Victoria, Australia
Death 1916 1st ANZAC Main Dressing Station, France

Service in the Australian Imperial Force [2]

William enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 19 July 1915 at the age of 36 years and 2 months. At the time, William was a farmer. He indicated that his next-of-kin was his father, Charles, who was living on Ballarat Road, Lexton, Victoria. He was given his service number of 2566.


Oath taken by William - text follows

OATH TO BE TAKEN BY PERSON BEING ENLISTED

I, William John Baulch swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Australian Imperial Force from July 19th 1915 until the end of the War, and a further period of four months thereafter unless sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed, or removed therefrom; and that I will resist His Majestry's enemies and cause His Majesty's peace to be kept and maintained; and that I will in all matters appertaining to my service, faithfully discharge my duty according to the law. So Help Me, God. W J Baulch. Taken and subscribed at Melbourne in the State of Victoria this 19th day July of (sic) 1915...


William enlisted in Melbourne. At the time he enlisted, he was 5 feet 6-and-a-half inches tall, weighed 10 stone 6 ounces, his chest measurement was 35-37 inches. His complexion was noted as "Ruddy", his eyes brown, his hair brown, and his religious denomination was Methodist. It was also noted that he has a scar on his right wrist, and two moles, one on his neck and one on his middle back.

William passed his medical on 19 July 1915, and was posted to 98 Company Depot for training. On 12 October 1915, he was appointed to the 6th Brigade, 23rd Battalion.

According to the Australian War Memorial:

The 23rd Battalion was raised in Victoria in March 1915, and was the third batallion of the 6th Brigade. After initial training, it left Australia in March and arrived in Egypt, where it would complete its advanced training, in June. [3]

Zeitoun Training Base map - Courtesy Digger History

Zeitoun Training Base map - Courtesy Digger History [4]

Service abroad

William embarked upon the "HMAT Ulysses" (A38) on 27 October 1915, leaving Melbourne bound for Zeitoun training base in Egypt to join the 23rd [5].

On 23 February 1916, William was taken-on-strength by the 58th Battalion from the reinforcements 23rd Battalion at Tel el Kebir, Egypt.

According to the Australian War Memorial:

The 58th Battalion was raised in Egypt on 17 February 1916 as part of the expansion of the AIF. Roughly half of its recruits were Gallipoli veterans from the 6th Battalion, and the other half, fresh reinforcements from Australia. Reflecting the composition of the 6th, the 58th was predominantly composed of men from Victoria. The battalion became part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Australian Division. [6]

On 1 June 1916, William was taken aboard the 14th Field Ambulance at Ferry Post. He was then transferred to the 1st Stationary Hospital at Ismailia on 3 June with suspected tonsillitis. According to his record, he was then diagnosed with influenza. He rejoined his unit on 6 June.

On 17 June 1916, the 58th embarked the "HT Transylvania" at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. They disembarked on 23 June at Marseilles.

While at sea, on 21 June, William was charged with Absent from post while on sentry duty the day before. He was forfeited 7 days of pay.

Killed in action

Five months after disembarking in Marseilles, on 30 November 1916, William was in the field in France when he suffered a gunshot wound to the head. His service record originally stated that he was killed in action, then was amended to state that was wounded.

He was admitted to the 1st ANZAC Main Dressing Station on 1 December 1916. While at the dressing station, he died from his wounds.

William was buried at the Dartmoor Cemetery near Becordel-Becourt, 1.5 miles south-east of Albert, France, plot 2, row F, grave 20.

William's headstone is engraved with the following:

2566 PRIVATE
W.J. BAULCH
58TH BN. AUSTRALIAN INF.
1ST DECEMBER 1916
AGE 37
GOD GAVE AND HATH TAKEN AWAY. BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD. [7]

Contact with family

Letter from Elizabeth Baulch asking for a photograph of William's gravesite.

Letter from Elizabeth Baulch asking for a photograph of William's gravesite. [8]

There must have been some confusion over the information sent to the family on and after 30 November 1916. Several newspaper reports showed 1 December that William was killed in action, then on subsequent reports, it was reported that William was only wounded (see the article titled "A Fortunate Mistake" in the Gallery). Then, reports show that William died as a result of his wounds.

William's personal effects, including a purse, wallet, money belt, disc, a one franc note (damaged), 14 coins, wrist watch and cover, watch case, diary, photos, cards, comb, badges and a ring were sent to William's father, Charles, at Ballarat Road, Lexton, Victoria, in package D/S 11401, on 23 August 1917.

On 24 March 1920, William's mother, Elizabeth, wrote a letter to the Base Records Office at Melbourne asking them to send photos of William's grave, to "remind us of where he is".

A photo was sent from the Officer-in-charge of the Base Records on 17 June 1920, with a note stating that there was a discrepancy appearing on the temporary memorial, which will be rectified when the permanent headstone is erected.

It is unclear from the service record what the discrepancy was.

Last will and testament

A copy of William's will is attached to his AIF service record [9]. It reads:

THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me WILLIAM JOHN BAULCH of Lexton in the State of Victoria Farmer

I APPOINT THOMAS JAMES BROWN of Mt Rowan and LESLIE JAMES BAULCH of Beaufort Farmers Executors and Trustees of this my will.

Text follows

For God, King and Country. In Honor of the Boys of the Shirley School, who fought in the Great War. 1914-1919. William's photo is top-right. [10]

I DEVISE all my real estate and bequeath all my personal estate to the said Thomas James Brown and Leslie James Baulch (herinafter called my Trustees) UPON TRUST to carry on and work my Farm property at My Widderin Skipton and any farm property in which I may be interested in partnership with my brothers or any other person until the first day of April one thousand nine hundred and twenty three.

And I empower my Trustees to use and employ in the carrying on of my said farm property any portions of my estate and declare that they shall only be obliged to see to the preservation of my estate in the ordinary course of husbandry and shall not be answerable for any loss or injury which shall arise from the negligence.

And I direct my Trustees out of the profits arising from my farm property or my share in any such partnership as aforesaid to pay to my father and mother the sum of fifteen shillings each per week so long as they or either of them shall be living and to pay the rest residue and remainder of the income and profits arising from my estate unto my said brother Leslie James Baulch for this own absolute use and benefit until the said first day of April one thousand nine hundred and twenty three.

From and after the said First day of April one thousand nine hundred and twenty three I direct my said Trustees to sell and convert into money the whole of my estate and to set aside such sum as shall be sufficient to pay to my father and mother and the survivor of them the payment or sum hereinbefore mentioned and to divide the rest and residue of my estate between all my brothers and sisters in equal shares share and share alike.

AND I declare that if any brother or sister of mine shall die leaving issue then such issue shall take the parent's share and if more than one equally.

I revoke all other wills at any time heretofore made by me IN WITNESS I have hereunto set my hand this Twenty sixth day of July one thousand nine hundred and fifteen.

(SIGNED) WILLIAM JOHN BAULCH

Signed by the said Testator William John Baulch as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us present at the same time who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses.

(SIGNED) Henry Shaw - Solicitor Ballarat

(SIGNED) T.A. Selleck - Accountant to Cuthbert Morrow and Must Solicitors Ballarat

Certified to be a true copy of the will of the late No. 2566, Private John Baulch, 58th Battalion, taken from the Probate submitted to this Office.

Awards and medals

William was awarded the following awards and medals for his service:

  • 1914/15 Star (sent to his father, Charles on 22 October 1920);
  • British War Medal (sent to his father, Charles on 30 September 1921);
  • "Where the Australians Rest" pamphlet (sent to his father, Charles on 14 October 1921)
  • Memorial Scroll (sent to his father, Charles on 26 October 1921);
  • Memorial Plaque (sent to his father, Charles on 1 August 1922); and
  • Victory Medal (sent to his father, Charles on 6 February 1923).

In memoriam

Rising Sun Badge, third pattern

Private William John Baulch
Service number 2566
58th Battalion
Australian Imperial Force

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


Sources

Direct sources

  1. Ancestry.com.au, with thanks to ozbeader, robynnjorgensen, MarionBird20, clare_edaley, robertshepherd844, l_ghamilto, Ew264b and equiqueville.
  2. National Archives of Australia - NAA: B2455, BAULCH W J. Title: World War I Service Dossier, William John BAULCH 2566
  3. Australian War Memorial, 23rd Australian Infantry Battalion
  4. Digger History, Zeitoun Training Base
  5. Australian War Memorial, First World War Embarkation Rolls, William John BAULCH
  6. Australian War Memorial, 58th Australian Infantry Battalion
  7. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, BAULCH, William John
  8. NAA: B2455, BAULCH W J page 17
  9. NAA: B2455, BAULCH W J page 25
  10. Australian War Memorial Collection: P10759.002

Other/information sources

  1. Don't forget the Diggers
  2. "Where the Australians Rest" pamphlet, Museum Victoria Collections

Download a copy of the World War I Service Dossier (pdf, 7,439kB).


Page updates

  • 25 May 2016: Original article published.
  • 27 May 2016: Amended - William had 9 siblings, not 19 siblings. Added newspaper clippings. Added information about the confusion over William's death.

Created on Thursday 26 May 2016. Modified on Sunday 19 March 2017.