Thursday, 30 April 2015

Y is for Ypres

William Alfred Fish (1890 - 1917), known as Bill, was the oldest of eight children of Alfred Fish and Rachel Fish née Young. He was my husband's first cousin twice removed.

Bill was born in Sale, Victoria, and educated at Sarsfield and Kalimna State Schools, Victoria.

On 24 February 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force.  His younger brother Leslie Charles Fish (1895 - 1988) had already enlisted, on 14 January 1916.

At the time of his enlistment Bill was a line repairer also described as a postal mechanic. He was 5 feet 6 3/4 inches tall, had brown eyes and brown hair.

William Fish was assigned to the 29th Battalion 7th reinforcements.  Leslie was assigned to the 108th Battery of the 23rd field Artillery Brigade.

W.A.Fish 3229 on left. L.C.Fish 22126 on right (brothers) retrieved from FindAGrave and reproduced with permission from a cousin who uploaded the picture.


Leslie sailed from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A7 Medic on 20 May 1916. He returned to Australia on 5 May 1919.

On 4 July 1916 Bill Fish sailed with his unit on HMAT A35 Berrima. Bill Fish and his unit disembarked at Devonport, Plymouth, on 22 August 1916. They trained at Larkhill, near Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain, until leaving for France in November.

Leslie Fish was also training at Larkhill, from July to December 1916. The photograph of the two brothers might have been taken while they were training in England.

In December 1916 Bill was hospitalised with mumps. He rejoined his unit on 6 January 1917.

In April 1917 Bill was punished for disobeying orders by eating his emergency rations. His punishment was 2 days Field Punishment number 2 and paying for replacement rations.

On 9 October 1917 Bill Fish was killed in action at Broodseinde, just under ten kilometers east of Ypres.

War Diary of the 29th Battalion: AWM4/Class 23/Sub class 46/AWM4 23/46/27 - October 1917 page 2

The file of the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau contains several descriptions of Bill's death.


Initially Fish was buried where he was killed, at Molenaarlens Hoek Broodseinde Ridge. After the war his body was exhumed and reinterred in the Oxford Road Cemetery. Oxford Road Cemetery is four kilometers north-east of Ypres. His grave is inscribed "Ever remembered", the phrase suggested by his father.


In 1918 a pension of 40 shillings per fortnight was granted to his mother Rachel.




Additional sources

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