Bruno (William) Geary
Serial No. 4430
Bruno (William) Geary - Information
Bruno Geary, known as William, was a son of David and Bridget Geary. He was born in Camden in 1881. However, the Geary family soon broke up with the death of both David and Bridget. William was just a small baby, when he was placed in the foster system. When he was a few months old, William was luckily adopted. He grew up in the loving home of the Bugdens, and became quite close to his new step-sister Hannah. In the early 1900s, William and his adoptive mother, went to live with Hannah and her husband Harry Boon on Norwood St in Burwood. Here, William started working as a painter. He then decided to track down his true family. He found another Geary that he believed was his brother. Unfortunately, this Geary shut the door in William’s face when he went to see him, exclaiming that he was not welcome on his property. William was still residing with Harry and Hannah when he decided to join the war effort. At the age of 32, he enlisted in the AIF on the 31st of December 1915 in Casula. He shortly became a Private with the 11th Reinforcements, 18th Battalion in January 1916. He then said goodbye to his adoptive family, allotting some of his pay to Harry to help support them while he was gone. He boarded the HMAT Nestor in Sydney on the 9th of April 1916 for war service.
William disembarked in England for further training. He then proceeded overseas to France in early September 1916, joining the 18th Battalion in the field a few weeks later. At the time, the troops on the Western Front were hunkering down for the winter, the worst of the war. Heavy rain and snowfall, turned the frontline into a barren wasteland of mud. Consistently being immersed in this cold muddy water in the trenches, William developed trench foot. He reported sick on the 11th of November, and was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship Formosa, which left Havre a few days later. He was admitted to the 4th Southern General Hospital. William’s feet were in a terrible state. Exposure to such cold temperatures and liquid, causes diminished circulation to a body’s extremities. Subsequently, the body’s defences start to breakdown and infections can arise as the flesh starts to decay. To make matters worst, while he was receiving treatment for trench foot, he needed an appendectomy at Tidworth in August 1917. It wasn’t until September, that William was fit enough to return to duty, proceeding back to France in January 1918. In March, fierce fighting erupted following the launch of the German Spring Offensive. With the Germans breaking through the lines, the Australians were mustered to check their advance. However, in May, William began to feel rather unwell. He reported sick on the 19th of May to the Casualty Clearing Station with pain, a cough, weakness, and a general malaise. He was subsequently admitted to hospital in Rouen, and by the end of the month, was evacuated to England to the 1st Birmingham War Hospital with bronchitis. Since William had been in hospital in Plymouth for trench foot, his health had not been 100%. There, he developed a cough which had troubled him ever since. By August, William was also suffering with nephritis. He was then invalided back to Australia on the 24th of August.
When William reached Sydney, he was admitted to the 4th Australian General Hospital in Randwick. He was still very unwell, but was luckily visited by Harry and Hannah. He eventually got a reprieve from the hospital, and was taken home to Burwood, and was ‘very glad’ for the excursion. Harry soon returned William’s allotment money, so he could pay off some outstanding debts. Sadly, his health continued to decline, and he returned to Randwick Hospital. He passed away from uraemia and chronic nephritis at Randwick on the 25th of October 1918. The Boons buried him in Rookwood Necropolis Cemetery in Sydney. William was lucky to have the chance to say goodbye to his family. He was surely missed.