William Bland Clayton
Serial No. 19053
7th Field Artillery Brigade
William Bland Clayton - Information
William Bland was a son of Bland G. and Frances Eliza Clayton. The Claytons originally lived near Wagga Wagga, where William was born in 1881. William grew up there with his seven sisters. By the early 1900s, the family had relocated to the Campbelltown area, settling down on a property called Weerona in Minto. As the war was raging, William remained on the family property, working as a station overseer. When he was 34 years old, he enlisted in the AIF on the 17th of January in Marrickville. Upon signing up, he was made a Gunner with the 7th Field Artillery Brigade, 28th Battery in April. He then boarded the HMAT Argyllshire in Sydney, leaving for war service on the 11th of May 1916.
The Argyllshire reached Devonport, England on the 10th of July. He received subsequent training with the artillery. He was appointed Driver on the 1st of September 1916, before reverting to Gunner in early November. The following month, he left Southampton for the Western Front in France joining his unit during the bitter winter. William and his mates provided vital fire support for operations. Unfortunately for this reason, artillery units became prime targets. Using aerial reconnaissance and sound ranging, artillery units were targeted by enemy artillery fire. William experienced this during the lead up to the Battle of Messines in Belgium. Millions of shells were fired from both sides. Resultantly, William was classified as wounded in action on the 6th of June 1917 with shell shock. Despite his condition, he reported back to duty on the 11th of June. However, the affects of constant shell fire continued to take its toll. On the 25th of June, was taken out of the lines with shell shock until the 23rd of July. He again reported sick with debility and neurasthenia from the 15th of August until the 1st of October. However, he returned to duty with the 107th Howitzer Battery, where he was continually hounded by fire. A Court of Inquiry was held into William's condition. On the 27th of January 1918, he was invalided to hospital in England. The shell shock, continued to distress William's health. He remained in England, receiving treatment for most of 1918. Symptoms varied but often included stupor, paralysis, tremors and delusions. He was classed as medically unfit with neurasthenia and sent back to Australia on the 19th of October 1918. He returned to his family in Minto receiving his discharge. Sadly, his terrible war experience would remain with him for the rest of his life. William passed away in Sydney in 1965.