No.2914 Private William John Green
William John Green was born in 1890 to John William Green and Elizabeth Ann Armstead at Birregurra in Victoria. His parents had married at Chilwell in Victoria in 1889. His siblings were:
- Alfred Ernest Green - born 1893 at Winchelsea (AIF)
- Hannah Ada Ann Green - born 1894 at Winchelsea
- Ethel May Green - born 1896 at Winchelsea
- Isabel Sarah Green - born 1898 at Winchelsea
- Joseph Henry Green - born 1900 at Winchelsea
- Charles Herbert Green - born 1901 at Winchelsea
- Roy Henry Green - born 1909 at Winchelsea
- Francis Allen Green - born 1910 at Winchelsea
Between 1912 and 1915, William's parents were living at Bambra, near Birregurra, in Victoria. His father was a mail contractor, and his mother was the local postmistress. William John Green was listed on the electoral roll from 1913 as a labourer, and living at the same location.
The electoral roll for 1916 shows that the family had moved to Little River. John William Green had become a farmer, Elizabeth Ann Green (his wife) was home duties. Others with them were:
- Alfred Ernest Green (labourer),
- Frederick Leslie (labourer),
- Hannah Ada Ann Green (home duties) and
- William John Green (labourer)
William John Green applied to enlist in the A.I.F. at Melbourne, and took the Oath on 8 January 1916. At this time, he was 25 years old, and he stated that he was working as a farm manager at Little River. The electoral roll listed him as a labourer.
He was first sent to "B" Company, 22nd Depot Battalion at the Broadmeadows Training Camp. Then followed three weeks at the A.I.F. Signal School, and he completed his training on 1 April, 1916, when he was appointed as a Private with 6th Reinforcements for the 29th Battalion.
[The 29th Battalion had previously been formed at Broadmeadows in August 1915, and by this time had already seen action at Gallipoli.]
Just three days after finishing his training, Private Green embarked from Melbourne on 4 April 1916 per HMAT Euripides A14, with the 8th Infantry Brigade, 29th Battalion, 6th Reinforcements, and sailed to Egypt to join his Battalion.
[In April 1916, the 29th Battalion were stationed at Ferry Post on the banks of the Suez Canal, undergoing training and exercises. They remained there until 29 May 1916, when they relocated to Moascar. The battalion remained there until 15 June 1916, when they embarked at Alexandria per HMAT Tunisian, and sailed to Marseilles.]
Rather than sailing to France with the 29th Battalion, Private Green was posted to England for further training. He embarked from Alexandria on 6 June 1916 per HMT Franconia and disembarked at Plymouth ten days later. Three months after that voyage, the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat near Malta.
After arriving in England Private Green marched-in to the 8th Training Battalion at Lark Hill on 16 June 1916. The camp was designated as the School of Instruction for Royal Horse and Field Artillery. (In 1916 the A.I.F. decided to form Training Battalions in England, which could be used as a pool of men, available to be posted on to the Australian Divisions in France. One of those was at Lark Hill.)
On 16 September 1916, Private Green marched-out from the 8th Training Battalion, and proceeded overseas to France. He travelled via the 5th ADBD (Australian Divisional Base Depot) at Etaples in France, and was taken on strength with the 29th Battalion on 1 October 1916. They were located in billets at Armentieres. Apart from spending periods in the front line, they didn’t take part in any major offensive for the remainder of 1916.
After just one week back with his unit, Private Green reported to hospital as "sick". He was diagnosed as suffering with measles and bronchitis, and was treated by the following units: the 39th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS); the 8th Australian Field Ambulance (AFA); the 1st A.C.C.S. (Australian Casualty Clearing Station) at Estaires; and finally, the 7th General Hospital at Saint-Omer (in France), where he was admitted as "Seriously ill" with measles and bronchial pneumonia.
The news of his illness was reported in the Weekly Times, 11 November 1916, p.32 which carried a report that Private Green, W.J. of Little River, was "Dangerously ill."
As part of his convalescence, Private Green was transferred to the No 14 Stationary Hospital at Boulogne on 4 November 1916, but he needed further treatment. He was evacuated back to England on 14 November 1916, per the Hospital Ship St. Denis, classified as “debility after measles”.
After arriving in England he was admitted to the 3rd Southern Hospital at Oxford for one month’s treatment, and was then sent to the 1st Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield on 13 December 1916. He remained there until 18 December 1916, when he was discharged to the No 4 Command Depot at Wareham.
On 23 March 1917, Private Green was taken on strength with the 65th Battalion at Wareham, and he remained with them for six months until he was transferred back to the 29th Battalion on 19 September 1917. This meant he would return to France, and he embarked via Southampton on 14 October 1917.
After travelling through the Australian Division Base Depot (ADBD) at Le Havre, Private Green re-joined the 29th Battalion on 26 October 1917. They were then in the front line at Westhoek Ridge (in Belgium), under heavy enemy fire. On the following day they were relieved, and rested in the area around Ypres.
During November and December 1917, the Battalion were in support at Wulverghem and were rotated into the line around Gapaard.
January 1918 was spent resting near Desvres, and there was a lot of snow on the ground. On 31 January 1918, the Battalion relieved the 9th Australian Battalion in the line along the Oosta Verne sector, near Veuve Eglise. Conditions there were cold, damp and muddy, and this resulted in Private Green going to hospital, sick with bronchitis. After a week's treatment he was able to return to duty.
The 29th Battalion didn’t have a big involvement in the German Spring Offensive of 1918. On 29 July 1918, they were part of the attack on Morlancourt, and in August and September they were part of the Great Allied Advance, following the successful Battle of Amiens.
Apart from the first few days of that battle, Private Green was not able to be part of this final phase of the war, which began on 8 August 1918 at Corbie. (This was the first time that all five Australian Divisions went into battle together, under an Australian General). When the attack began, the 29th Battalion were positioned at Villers-Bretonneux. The entry in the Unit’s Diary for 9 August 1918 states that "Great bravery was exhibited by all ranks in advancing against extremely heavy enemy machine gun fire, and ultimately silencing all opposition." Three officers and fourteen other ranks were killed, and 78 men were wounded at Villers-Bretonneux.
On 12 August 1918, while the General Officer Commanding (GOC) addressed the Battalion, and thanked them for their excellent work over the previous days, Private Green was admitted to the 8th Australian Field Ambulance as "sick" with dysentery. He was then treated by the 55th Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.), the 16th General Hospital, and then the 52nd Stationary Hospital at Le Havre.
Private Green was discharged to the 1st Australian Convalescent Depot at Le Havre on 29 August 1918, and was fully recovered by 21 September 1918. He was then able to re-join his unit at Roisel on 3 October 1918.
The 29th Battalion relocated to Ramburelles on 9 October 1918, for rest and reorganisation. On 11 October, their Commanding Officer announced that the 29th Battalion would now be amalgamated with the 32nd Battalion, owing to the Brigade having to be placed on a 3 Battalion basis. All of the men were then transferred to the 32nd Battalion.
There were many other amalgamations of battalions at this time, and they were strongly resented. Because of pride and comradery that had been built up in them, some units refused the directive to amalgamate, and remained in their camps. Refusal of the directives to amalgamate was considered as a mutiny. *
The Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. Private Green was on leave in England at that time, and would have been able to join in the festivities there, before having to return to France.
His new battalion, the 32nd, were then relocating from Ramburelles to Busigny. The following months were spent in training, sporting competitions, and relocating to various camps, while the men waited for an opportunity to return home.
Private Green left France on 9 April 1919 and marched-in to the No 5 Group at Weymouth on the following day.
Less than two weeks later, on 23 April 1919, William John Green married Mildred May Broome, at Cowley in England.
On 9 June 1919, Private Green marched out from No 5 Group on leave, and then ordered to report to No 2 Group at Sutton Veny.
Private Green and his wife embarked on 12 July 1919 per S.S. Indarra, bound for Australia. This was a 'family ship', and carried many married couples home. The Green’s disembarked at Melbourne on 6 September 1919.
A few weeks after arriving home, Private Green was discharged from the A.I.F., from the 3rd Military District in Melbourne.
The Electoral Rolls between for 1921 and 1924 record that William John Green and his wife Mildred May Green had returned to the Birregurra area. They were living at Armytage, and he was working as a labourer.
Between 1925 and 1934 they lived at Rickett's Marsh (near Birregurra) and William continued working as a labourer. Rickett's Marsh was the site of a Soldier Settlement area.
Then in about 1936 they relocated to 38 Swinbourne Street in North Geelong, and William became unemployed. They remained living there for the remainder of their lives.
On 30 May 1958, Mrs Mildred Green applied to the Department of Social Services for an Age Pension. She would have then been 52 years old.
William John Green died at North Geelong on 12 January 1971, aged 80 years, and was buried at the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.
His wife, Mildred May Green died in the following year, on 9 October 1972, and was also buried in the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.
A photo of their joint headstone is at https://billiongraves.com/grave/MILDRED-MAY-GREEN/8827771#/
Medals & Entitlements:
- British War Medal – received June 1921
- Victory Medal – received 11 September 1922
The name "Green W" appears on the Werribee Shire Oak Board.
The name "Green, W. J." of Little River first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 April 1916, p.1.
The name "Sig (Signaller) W. Green" appears on the Little River Honour Board.
* “The Last Fifty Miles” by Adam Wakeling, pages 149 and 189. (Penguin/Viking)
Embarkation List https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1876990/
Lark Hill Camp
Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888 CD
Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index Victoria 1902-1913 CD
Australian Death Index, 1787-1985