William Hilton SAUNDERS

William Hilton SAUNDERS

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4901), William Hilton Saunders was born at Goodooga, N.S.W. He gave his age as 21 years and 2 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as Grocer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 7 ½ inches tall, weight 9 stone 10 lbs., with a fair complexion, greenish grey eyes, and fair hair. His religious denomination was Anglican. He completed his medical on the 8th October 1915 at Gilgandra before the march began. He was attested at Stuart Town on the 19th October 1915. He claimed that he had no previous military service.

He was one of the thirteen men who stepped forward and gave his name, ‘either to march under Captain Nicholas, or to come after harvest’, when the Coo-ees recruited in Wongarbon on 14th October 1915.[1]

After completing the remainder of the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Wongarbon, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, E. J. Saunders, Wongarbon, N.S.W.

Private Saunders departed Sydney on the HMAT Star of England on the 8th of March 1916. He arrived in Egypt on the 11th of April 1916. On the 16th of April 1916 he transferred to the 4th Division Artillery at Telelkebir, and was taken on strength of the 10th Field Artillery Brigade. He was appointed Driver on 18th May 1916. On the 23rd of May 1916 he was taken on strength of the 4th Division Ammunition Column.

On the 6th June 1916 Driver Saunders left Alexandria aboard HMT Oriana, bound for France, arriving at Marseille on the 13th June 1916.

On the 17th August 1917 Driver Saunders was charged with, when on active service, being drunk in Calais about 9.15 pm. He was awarded 21 days Field Punishment Number Two.

On the 15th October 1917 Driver Saunders was wounded in action suffering a gunshot wound to his right foot. He was evacuated to the 3rd Field Ambulance. On the 16th October 1917 he was sent to the 35th General Hospital, and on the 19th October 1917 he boarded a ship for England. On 20th October 1917 he was admitted to the East Suffolk Hospital.

Driver Saunders was granted leave from Hospital on the 20th November 1917. On the 9th January 1918 Driver Saunders departed Southampton to return to France. He rejoined his unit on the 15th January 1918.

On the 2nd September 1918 Driver Saunders was admitted to the 13th Field Ambulance sick. On the 5th September 1918 he was transferred to the 41st Stationary Hospital. On the 6th September 1918 he was sent to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen. On the 12th September 1918 he went to the 11th Convalescent Depot. Driver Saunders rejoined his unit on the 28th September 1918.

On the 26th October 1918 Driver Saunders went on leave to the United Kingdom. On the 18th November 1918 Driver Saunders was charged with being Absent Without Leave from 6.00 am on the 12th November 1918 to 10.10 pm on the 16th November 1918.

Per his 1918 war diary, this period of absence was while he was celebrating the Armistice in London. His entry for the 16th November 1918 was: “Had a great day … Here I am pinched by the MPs & in Warwick Square quite forgot that my pass is overdue & I should have gone back. Oh yes days ago. Who cares”.[2]

He was awarded forfeiture 5 days pay on 18th November 1918, which was increased to a total forfeiture of 10 days pay on 2nd January 1919.

On the 12th May 1919 Driver Saunders departed England for return to Australia aboard the HT Port Napier. He arrived in Sydney on the 5th July 1919, and was discharged on the 19th August 1919.

[1] ‘The Route March’, The Farmer and Settler, 19 October 1915, p. 3.

[2] Saunders, William Hilton, personal diary, 1918.

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