No.4364 Private William Abraham Beamish
William Abraham Beamish was born in Werribee in 1887.
His parents, Henry Beamish * married Mary Ann Fitzgibbon at Victoria in 1873 (Cert.1873/165), and they had the following children:
- Elizabeth Beamish - born 1874 at Wyndham (1874/13105)
- Henry Thomas Beamish -born 1876 at Hotham (1876/10045)
- Margaret Jane Beamish - born 1878 at Wyndham (1878/20132)
- George Edward Beamish - born 1879 at Wyndham (1879/26754)
- Catherine Beamish - born 1882 at Wyndham (1882/6333)
- Herbert William Beamish - born 1884 at Neerim (1884/11686) (A.I.F. No.377)
- William Abraham Beamish - born 1886 at Werribee (1886/14719) (A.I.F. No.4364)
- Francis John Beamish - born 1888 at Neerim (1888/14021)
- Harold Hope Beamish - born 1890 at Neerim (1890/15705) (A.I.F. No.1730)
Prior to enlisting in the A.I.F., William Beamish worked as a coal miner in the Gippsland area of Victoria.
William Abraham Beamish married Mary Magdelen Zanker in Tasmania in 1905 (Cert No.1905/0613), and the couple moved to Victoria.
Ancestry.com – Australian Marriage Index, 1788-1950.
The 1909 Victorian Electoral Roll shows William as a Farmer living at Neerim, and Mary performing Home Duties. [On the roll for this year, the order of his Christian names is reversed].
Four years later, the 1913 Victorian Electoral Roll shows William as a Miner living at Korumburra, and Mary as Home Duties.
In the same year, Mary Magdelen Beamish died in Melbourne, aged 34 years,** and was buried in the Werribee Cemetery.
He enlisted in the Army on 25 January 1916 at the age of 29.
According to his service record, he was a coal miner by trade and despite his relative youth, was also a widower.
His next of kin is listed as his sister-in-law, Jeanette M. Beamish of Neerim, Gippsland, Victoria.
His younger brother, Private Harold Hope Beamish, 9th Battalion, AIF, had enlisted in Murwillumbah, NSW in January 1915.
The 22nd Battalion was a Victorian regiment formed at Broadmeadows Camp in March 1915.
Following basic training, he and his unit boarded the RMS Orontes in late March 1916 in Melbourne. There followed a period of intensive training in England before the 11th Reinforcements, 22nd Battalion was shipped to France in mid November.
The 22nd Battalion, which had participated in the Gallipoli campaign the previous year, had arrived in France to join the British Expeditionary Force in March 1916. Its first major action was at Pozieres as part of the Somme offensive in July.
By the time Private William Beamish arrived in France in November 1916, the Battalion was probably back in the Somme region following a brief stint at Ypres in Belgium. In 1917, the 22nd Battalion was sent back to Ypres and engaged in vicious trench warfare from Bullecourt to Broodseinde.
In February 1917, Private Beamish received an accidental bomb wound to his thigh. He returned to his unit after treatment and was wounded again in early May - this time receiving a severe gunshot wound to his right arm. He was evacuated to England for further treatment and returned to Australia in October 1917.
The 6th Brigade (of which Private Beamish was a member) were awarded “the King’s Honor”, for their work at Bullecourt. It conferred special privileges on its recipients.
Werribee Shire Banner, 28 March 1918, p.3.
Private William Abraham Beamish was medically discharged from the Army as a consequence of his wounds in June 1918.
William received a Werribee Gold Medal at a ceremony held on 21 March 1918, at the Werribee Mechanics Hall. The newspaper report of the presentation states “Private W.A. Beamish, wounded at Bullecourt, won King’s honors”.
Werribee Shire Banner, 28 March 1918, p.3.
He held an eight acre Soldier Settlement Block at Werribee South, after the war. Allotment 8, Sect 17, parish of Mambourin. The lease was cancelled in October 1922.
In June 1923, his War Service Medals were sent to him at Neerim South.
William Abraham Beamish died at Korumburra, Victoria, in 1946, at the age of 59 years. His death notice said that he was survived by his wife Jean, and children William, Albert, Lucy, Alma, Ivy Clarice and Gordon.
The Argus, 3 May 1946, p.2.
In May 1946, his brother, Harold Hope Beamish (a farmer at Korumburra) applied for probate on William’s estate. It was reserved, on Alma Jean Beamish (then Alma Jean Prentice***) making a claim.
The Argus, 13 May 1946, p.15.
* Henry Beamish (his father) was initially nominated as his next of kin. This was later amended to his sister in Law – Mrs Jeanette M Beamish of Fumina, via Neerim, Victoria.
** Death Certificate No.6161/1913. Father – Robert Zankar, Mother – Jane Mallard
*** Alma Jean Beamish married Harry Ernest Prentice in Victoria in 1945 (No.10286/1945)
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: “BEAMISH, W. A.”
The name “Beamish, W.A., from Werribee” first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 24 February 1916, p.1.Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal - No.38802
- Victory Medal - No.38368
NAA: B2455, BEAMISH W A
http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11209.asp - 22nd Battalion history
Unit War Diary
Victorian Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Victorian Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Victorian Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Victorian Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Victorian Marriage Index 1921-1942