William Frederick Brown
Serial No. 3551
18th Battalion, 54th Battalion & 59th Battalion
William Frederick Brown - Information
William Frederick Brown was born in Camden c1890. When he was 23, he enlisted in the AIF at Liverpool on the 31st of October 1914. He listed his sister, Perly Brown of Camden as his next of kin. However, just before Christmas, he was discharged from military service for overstaying his leave. In 1915, William was living in Narribri near Inverell and working as a labourer. He decided to try again, signing up on the 15th of October 1915 in Inverell. He commenced his training at Casula and was made a Private with the 8th Reinforcements, 18th Battalion. On the 20th of December 1915, William departed Sydney Harbour on the HMAT Aeneas for war service.
The Aeneas made berth in Egypt, and William was then taken on strength to the 54th Battalion in early April. However, he had difficulty adapting to military discipline. On the 28th of April, he was charged with being absent from a military parade. Then at Ferry Post in May, he was charged with being insolent to an officer. The following month, he was charged with being absent without leave at Moascar Camp. He then left Alexandria for Marseilles, France in mid June. The 54th Battalion, part of the 5th Division, was then moved into position to prevent German reserves reaching the Somme Battlefield. This culminated in the devastating Battle of Fromelles on the 19th of July, where half of their unit was lost in one day. After this, William went AWL from the field for four days. Towards the end of 1916, the troops on the Western Front endured the harshest winter of the war. Consequently, William reported sick with bronchitis in mid November. A few weeks later, he was evacuated to England and admitted to the 2nd Birmingham Hospital. Here, he then went AWL again, before he was shipped back to France via Folkestone in mid February 1917. After he reached France in late February, he was charged with smoking while on parade and insolence. In March, he left the Australian Divisional Base Depot to return to his unit. However, at the end of April he reported sick to Rouen until late May. Now with the 59th Battalion, William received a string of charges for military infractions. These included drunkenness on duty, going AWL and being absent from a parade. Consequently, William was brought before a Court Martial on the 6th of August. The charges specified that he went AWL from the 17th of July until he was apprehended on the 23rd of July. He was found guilty and was ordered to surrender 42 days pay. However, further infractions saw William before another Field General Court Martial on the 30th of August. He was charged with using insubordinate language to a superior officer and refusing a lawful command by a superior officer. He was found guilty and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment at hard labour. He was committed to 6 months imprisonment, at a Military Prison in France. In late February 1918, he left prison to rejoin his unit when his sentence expired. Not learning his lesson, in mid April, he was charged with drunkenness while on active service. He was then brought before yet another Field General Court Martial on the 12th of June 1918. While on active service, he went absent without leave from the 24th of April to the 3rd of May. He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment at hard labour. On the 10th of July, he was taken to the No. 1 Military Prison. In mid April 1919, his sentence was remitted and he was released. The following month, he was transported to England. He returned to Australia onboard the Bakara on the 24th of July. He was discharged in October 1919.
William returned to his previous life. At the time that William served overseas, his mother Lillian was being taken care of by his aunt in Glebe. To help take care of her, an allotment of William’s pay was sent home. Unfortunately, this allotment was halted throughout his many trials and imprisonment. William passed away in Canberra on the 28th of August 1945.