William Lionel Stalker
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||c1893|
|Place of Birth||Annandale, Sydney, New South Wales|
|Death||22 Jan 1917|
|Place of Death||Armentieres, France|
|Age at Enlistment||22 years, 10 months|
5'5" (1.65m) tall ; 112lbs|
50.802 kg; dark complexion ; blue eyes ; dark brown hair
|Religion||Church of England|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Dugald Stalker|
|Unit/Formation||36th Battalion, A Company|
|Date of Embarkation||13 May 1916 ‒ 9 Jul 1916|
|Ship Embarked On||HMAT A72 Beltana Sydney to Devonport|
|Fate||KIA 22 Jan 1917 Armentières|
Gosnells War Memorial |
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
St Georges Cathedral, Perth
Australian War Memorial
British War Medal |
12 months experience with the Militia reserve.
Enlisted in Sydney, and on 24 Feb 1916 was posted to the 36th Battalion's A Company. No other records of his time in Australia and England are available, but he would have undertaken about 10 weeks basic training prior to boarding a ship for England. On arrival he and his battalion, as part of the 3rd Division under John Monash undertook another 3 months training before embarking for France. They proceeded overseas to France from Southampton on 22 Nov 1916 to le Havre in France aboard HMT Caeserea. After two days in the Division's Base they entrained for Bailleul, and then Armentières.
By late December they were in the front lines near Houplines on the eastern outskirts of Armentières, but they were able to spend Christmas in billets in Armentières. Early January 1917 saw the battalion providing working parties just behind the front line and then on 19 Jan 1917 the battalion's next turn in the front line came on 19 Jan 1917, and on 22 Jan 1917 they were raided by German troops. The 36th Battalion's War Diary gives us a snapshot view of the action:
22-1-17 "Enemy started light shelling at 10 a.m. At 2 p.m. Locality 16 & 17 was heavily bombarded, also Locality 14, which ended in a box barrage being put on at 4:10 p.m. and an attack by the enemy from the pimple salient. They entered our trenches but were only in 10 minutes. Our casualties 11 killed, 36 wounded, 4 missing. It is quite possible the 4 missing have been buried by minnies."
William was one of those reported as missing. The Red Cross file held in the AWM provides some detail of what befell him and one other. A subsequent Court of Enquiry on 17 Feb 1917 declared William to have been Killed in action on 22 Jan 1917.
"On the 22nd January 1917 at Houplines, Armentieres the Germans bombarded our trenches heavily before raiding them. Stalker and another (Williams 1706) were missing for several days after the bombardment. We found their bodies buried in a shelter and frozen in the ground and up to the time of my being wounded on the 6th February their bodies had not been dug out owing to the frost. There can be no doubt at all as to the identity of these men. I am surprised they have not been reported killed" Pte O.N. Smith A Coy 36th Battalion.
" I know Stalker and Williams were buried alive during an attack by the Prussian Guard. The dug out fell in. By the time the Prussians retired (with several of our men as prisoners) the dug out was so frozen that we could not get to the men in time to save them. I was one of those who tried to dig them out. This was at Armentieres about January 22nd 1917. 84 Pte K.Finlayson 2 Pl A Coy 36th Battalion. (same platoon as Stalker). 
Following William's death his mother Mrs Christina Stalker was awarded a pension on 10/- fortnightly
Parents had been living in Gosnells, but moved to Walcott street Highgate in about 1917.
Commemorated (with a bronze plaque) in St George's Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia: 'Members of the Cathedral Choir who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918. The stop on the Great Organ Lieblick Gedacht is given by fellow choristers and friends Anzac Day 1931.' Parents: Dugald and Christena STALKER, 100 Walcott Street, Perth, Western Australia
Williams records are the barest possible, lacking in detail
- "Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files - William Lionel Stalker". Australian War Memorial. 2018. Retrieved 28 Aug 2018.