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William Wright Casterton MM

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William Wright Casterton MM
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Personal Information
Date of Birth c1892
Place of Birth Basford, Nottinghamshire, England
Death May 1987
Place of Death Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Age at Enlistment 23 years, 7 months
Description 5'10¼" (1.78m) tall ; 151 lbs
68.492 kg
; fresh complexion ; blue eyes ; fair hair
Occupation Police Constable
Religion Baptist
Address Armadale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr James Casterton (in UK)
Military Information
Reg Number 2315
Date of Enlistment 19 Jun 1916
Rank Lance Sergeant
Unit/Formation 44th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement /11th Brigade, 4th Division
Date of Embarkation 13 Oct 1916 ‒ 12 Dec 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A39 Port Macquarie Fremantle to Plymouth
Date of Return 12 Dec 1918 ‒ 18 Jan 1919
Ship Returned On HMAT A71 Nestor
Fate Wounded in Action 8 Jun 1917 at Messines
Wounded in Action 4 Jul 1918 at Hamel
Returned to Australia
Monument Armadale War Memorial (West Armadale panel)
Armadale and Districts Roll of Honour
Medals Military Medal
British War Medal
Victory Medal



War Service

William entered Blackboy Hill camp on 19 Jun 1916 and was allocated to the 74th Depot Company. On 22 Jul 1916 he was transferred to the 4th reinforcement draft for the 44th Battalion and travelled with them to England. In England he was sent to the 11th Training Battalion at Codford camp to prepare for service on the Western Front. William embarked on the HMT Invicta for France in Folkestone Harbour on 4 Feb 1917, and via the 3rd Division's Base Depot in Étaples, he joined his front line unit, the 44th Battalion, on 8 Feb 1917. They were in the line near Armentières, but were relieved the following day.

Early in the morning of 8 Jun 1917 at Ploegsteert, the battalion took part in an attack on German positions on the Messines Ridge. They had achieved their objective by 4:00am, suffering very slight casualties. However, hanging on to the ground gained was not easy and by the time they were relieved they had suffered approx. 300 casualties. William was one of these, gassed as a result of artillery shells. After treatment by the 9th Field Ambulance and the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, he was admitted to 7th General Hospital at St Omer the same day. He was then transferred to the 7th Convalescent Depot in Boulogne on 18 Jun 1917. On 21 Jun 1917 he was transferred to the 10th Convalescent Depot which moved during his time with them from Ecault, south of Boulogne to Tronville near Le Havre. Having recovered, he was returned to his battalion on 1 Sep 1917, and on 27 Sep 1917 he was appointed Lance Corporal.

William was promoted Corporal on 1 Apr 1918 and then to Lance Sergeant on 27 Jun 1918. On 4 Jul 1918 during the attack on Hamel, he was wounded a second time, receiving GSWs to his right shoulder, leg, wrist & head. Initial treatment was provided by 4th Australian Field Ambulance which transferred him on 5 Jul 1918 to the 5th Casualty Clearing Station. They in turn placed him on Ambulance Train No.15 on 5 Jul 1918 for the 9th General Hospital in Rouen who admitted him on 6 Sep 1918. Stabilised, he was prepared for boarding HMHS St Patrick and was evacuated to England on 8 Jul 1918 where he was admitted to the Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow, Buckinghamshire on 9 Jul 1918.

On the road to recovery, he was then transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, in Dartford on 26 Aug 1918. William was well enough to be granted leave 18 Sep until 2 Oct 1918 after which he reported to the No. 2 Command Depot in Weymouth where he prepared for a return to Australia.

He was discharged by the 5th Military District on 5 March 1919.

The 320th Casualty List contains Williams name as one who was wounded in action at Messines and the 420th Casualty List advises of his wounding in the battle for Hamel.

On 17 Jun 1919, he joined the Special AIF with Regimental Number 86065 as a Private and accompanied deportees on HMT Ypiranga from Sydney 12 Aug 1919, to the UK, arriving 12 Oct 1919. While in England he was AWOL for three days, forfeiting 6 days pay.

He returned to Australia via SS Cape Verde, leaving the UK on 5 Jan 1920, and arriving in Sydney on 29 Feb 1920. Discharged a second time at 2nd Military District in Sydney on 14 Mar 1920.

Mentioned in the 1917 Feb-Mar edition of "The Drill of the Foot-Hills", but no detail


Award Commentary

Military Medal

"Obtained valuable information while on patrol work, displaying great courage and endurance."[1][2][3](At the Maze and Le Barque on 12-28 February 1917)

The AWM website also has a recommendation for an honour in July 1918.

"On the 4th July 1918, during the attack on the enemy trenches East of Hamel, Lance Sergeant CASTERTON located an enemy Machine Gun enfilading their position. Without hesitation CASTERTON dashed forward with his Section, and by means of well directed fire put the gun out of action and captured the complete crew of 1 N.C.O. and 9 men. His excellent leadership and initiative put great confidence in the men.[4] A handwritten endorsement awards the Military Medal for these exploits.

It is not apparent if he was meant to be awarded a second Military Medal, or if the published comments in the Gazettes are in error with the correct ones in line with the events mentioned above.

Post War

The West Australian 10 Jul 1919 page 7 announces that he is to receive his Military Medal at a parade on the Esplanade on the 19 Jul 1919. However, his address is unknown to the organisers, and while he doesn't appear on Australian Electoral Rolls after 1916, he is in Sydney in 1920 taking his discharge from the Special AIF.

Electoral Roll entry-1916 - Central Police Station, Police Constable. No further entries for Australia so it would appear he returned to the UK after a period in Sydney


Notes

  1. Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 23 Date: 12 February 1919, page 272, position 87;
  2. AIF List 401 22 Sep 1918;
  3. London Gazette 21 October 1918, page 12421, position 16.
  4. https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/awm-media/collection/RCDIG1068633/document/5511251.PDF

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