No.5718 Private William Charles Samuel Mansell
William Charles Samuel Mansell was born at Hawthorn in 1891 to Charles Mansell and Mary Ann James. His parents married at Monmouth in Victoria in 1890, and had six children:
- William Charles Samuel Mansell - born1891 at Hawthorn
- Alfred Joseph Mansell - born 1892 at Hawthorn
- Minnie Elizabeth L Mansell - born 1894 at Winchelsea
- Jessie Ethel Cel Mansell - born 1898 at Deans Marsh
- Ada Ursula Gladys Mansell - born 1901 at Deans Marsh
- Dora Emily Mansell - born 1896 at Deans Marsh
William Charles Samuel Mansell was working for the Victorian Railways at Werribee when he applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 January 1916. This was just after the troops had withdrawn from Gallipoli, and new men were urgently needed as reinforcements.
William swore his oath at Melbourne on 25 January 1916, and went to the Military Camp at Broadmeadows for initial training. This was completed on 28 March 1916, and he was sent to "A" Company of the 22 Battalion at Royal Park Camp until the 27 April 1916. He was then appointed as a reinforcement to the 7th Battalion. *
The Werribee Lodge of A.F. and A. Masons of Victoria held a farewell evening on Saturday 28 April 1916, to say good bye to their Brothers – Corporal McKeown, and Privates Mansell, Morrow, Shaw and Rowan.
Werribee Shire Banner, 4 May 1916, p.3.
The function was held in the Parish Hall, and Private Mansell was also presented with an emblem of the order.
At the age of 24 years, Private William Mansell embarked per H.M.A.T, Ayrshire A33 with the 18th Reinforcements for the 7th Battalion at Melbourne on 3 July 1916. With him for the voyage was No.5722, Private John Thomas Morrow, a former carpenter from Werribee.
They sailed to England, and disembarked at Plymouth on 2 September 1916. The reinforcements went to the 2nd Training Battalion at Perham Downs where they continued their training. On 16 November Private Mansell sailed to France, and was taken on strength with the 7th Battalion on 23 December 1916. His unit was then fighting in the mud around Ypres.
On the night of 23/24 February 1917, the 7th Battalion went into the front at Flers Line. Over the next few days the enemy artillery and machine guns were very active, and as a consequence Private Mansell received a gunshot wound to his hip on 25 February 1917.
After being treated by the 45th Casualty Clearing Station and the 7th Canadian General Hospital, he was evacuated to England on 3 March 1917. On arrival, he was admitted to the General Military Hospital at Colchester, and remained there until he had recovered.
William was discharged from hospital on 26 March 1917, and after two weeks leave, he marched in to the No 1 Commonwealth Depot at Perham Downs. They received troops who were fit enough to return to their units on the front line.
On 26 April 1917, Private Mansell was transferred to the 66th Training Battalion at Windmill Hill for five months, and was promoted to the rank of Temporary Driver. At the end of that duty, he was transferred to Overseas Training Brigade at Longbridge Deverell, prior to returning to his unit on the front line.
Private Mansell left England on 19 March 1918, and was taken back on strength with the 7th Battalion one week later. They had just re-entered the front line and occupied adjacent sectors at the Hollebeke Cross Roads, Roozebeek, Rose Wood and Deny's Wood.
Between March and April 1918, the 7th Battalion were part of the force which helped to stop the German Spring Offensive in France. On 8 August 1918 they participated in the Battle of Amiens, which was the first phase of the allied offensive, and which ultimately led to Germany’s defeat.
There is no mention in the unit's war diary of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, or how it was celebrated. The men simply spent the day on a route march from Baziuel to Favril, where they occupied new billets.
After the Armistice the 7th Battalion began to demobilise, and in March 1919 they merged with the 6th Battalion.
On 1 February 1919, Private Mansell was admitted to the French Hospital at Joinrville-le-Pont (outside Paris), suffering with Influenza. The battalion were positioned at Couillet, and the weather was bitterly cold. It snowed on most days, and the roads were frozen. Influenza had become a major problem at this time.
One month later he was able to re-join his unit, which was still located at Couillet in Belgium. There had been further amalgamations of Battalions, and the 6th and 7th then became “A” Battalion. Its new No.1 Company comprised of former 6th Battalion men, and No.2 Company were former 7th Battalion men.
In April 1919, the 5th, 6th 7th and 8th Battalions merged to become the 2nd Australian Infantry Brigade, at Couilet, in Belgium. They continued with a routine of daily parades and sporting events, while they waited for their repatriation orders.
Private Mansell embarked from Plymouth England for Australia on 12 June 1919, per H.T. Port Darwin. The ship brought 1,050 men home, and after travelling via Capetown, the Victorian men disembarked at Melbourne on 27 July 1919. William Mansell was discharged from the 3rd Military District on 10 September 1919, and returned to a normal life.
William Mansell was living at Birregurra when he received his British War Medal, on 3 June 1921. The Victorian Electoral Rolls then show that he became a farmer at Deepdene, where he remained of the rest his working life.
From 1936 onwards he was joined on the farm by his elder brother Alfred, who worked with him as a farm labourer.
William Mansell married Laura Ann Daffy in 1939, and the couple remained on the farm until he died in 1953 at the young age of 62 years. He was buried in the Colac Cemetery on 14 August 1953.
In 1954, his widow Laura Ann Mansell wrote to the Defence Department from 109 Mitchell Street, Maidstone, asking for details of her late husband's war service. She needed the documents in order to apply for a War Service Home.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: "Mansell, W.C."
The name "Mansell, W.C.S. from Werribee" first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 10 February 1916. p.1. It was then omitted from all editions after 1 June 1916.
There is a studio portrait of Private W C S Mansell of the 7th Battalion (taken prior to embarking) on the Australian War Memorial site.
* 7th Battalion was recruited from Victoria, and was part of the 2nd Brigade. It was formed by Lieut Col Pompey Elliott, and took part in the second wave of landings at Gallipoli.
Unit War Diary
Letter from his wife, in his service file.
Pioneer Index Victoria 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index Victoria 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index Victoria 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index Victoria 1921-1942