William ‘Bill’ Francis Xavier Hanlon

June 24, 2015

HANLON, William Francis Xavier- – – – SPC 1908-1911

DoB:– – 1898, Ballarat, VIC

Father:– – Christopher Hanlon

Mother:– – Bedelia (Bridget) Mary, nee Hynes

The College Annual of 1916-1917 wrote a paragraph about William’s war service in France:

-‘-¦ Pte Wm F Hanlon volunteered July 1915, transferred later in AMC. Sailed for the front early in March in company with Bert and Roy Lyons. Spent some time around Suez; subsequently was sent to France. After a short spell behind the lines, sent to region about Ypres, where Belgian and French life was found much to their liking. Later, they were sent to the Somme, and saw some of the -‘big things’. -Billy- says that one of the things he remembers best was a twenty-mile route march. The last letters from the party describes them as once more in Belgium -¦’

Service No:– 9635

Rank:- – Lance Corporal

Unit:– – 12 Field Ambulance

William -‘Bill’ Hanlon enlisted on 10 July 1915 as a single man, 18 years and seven months of age. He was five feet, five inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. His occupation was chemist’s assistant.

He embarked from Australia and was assigned to the 12 Field Ambulance at Serapeum, Egypt on 20 April 1916. Two months later he embarked from Alexandria for Marseilles. By November 1916 he has been admitted to hospital at Rouen, France to be treated for gonorrhoea. In total, he was in the venereal hospital for 53 days.

On 26 January 1917 Bill rejoined his unit. He was Absent Without Leave from 9.30pm on 19 May to 10pm on 20 May 1917, and for this crime had to forfeit seven days’ pay. After facing court, he again rejoined his unit in the field. In December 1917, he was granted leave in UK. Back in the field again, he was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal in March 1918.

On 3 April 1918, Lance Corporal Hanlon was wounded in action, sustaining a wound to his right thigh, resulting in a compound fracture. He was evacuated to the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, France, but died of his wounds.

The Australian Red Cross Enquiry file reveals some eye witness accounts of what happened to Bill Hanlon:

– -‘-¦ He received his injuries in the following manner. On the 2.4.18 he was with 3 others -¦ engaged in carrying a wounded man from the lane, nr Albert, towards the rear. During this trip a shell burst close to them with the result that 2 of the squad were killed outright and the others, including Hanlon were very badly wounded. He was rescued by some others of the unit and carried in, and later on was evacuated to the 3rd Can Stat Hospital- -¦ where he died on 3.4.18. and as far as I understand was buried there -¦’

– -‘-¦ Our informant stated that Pte Hanlon and Pte Vernum -¦ were carrying a patient to the Regimental Aid Post -¦ when a shell fell underneath the stretcher killing Pte Vernum and two other bearers outright. Pte Hanlon died later at Doullen from the effect of his wounds -¦

-¦ he had picked up Pte Hanlon an hour after he had been badly wounded in the thigh by a shell -¦ he was removed to the dressing station and later down to the base Hospital where he died -¦’

-‘-¦ He was always a popular member of the unit, and all were deeply grieved indeed to learn of his death -¦’

-‘-¦ regarding the personal effects of the above-named deceased soldier his kit bag was not deposited in this store, but the following articles, comprising the whole of his belongings received here from the field were despatched on 20th June last to his mother, Mrs B Hanlon, 504 Lydiard Street, Ballarat, Victoria –

– 2 discs, letters, cards, photos, wallet (damaged), unit colours, 4 numerials, 2 badges, purse, 2 combs, YMCA Wallet cover, Prayer book, note book, gloves, 2 metal watches (1 damaged).

– I very much regret to add, however, that the vessel (the -‘Barunga’), conveying this consignment was lost at sea through enemy action and nothing whatever was recovered -¦’

So Billy’s mother did not receive anything of her son who had gone to war.

William Francis Xavier Hanlon was buried at Doullens Communal Cemetery, Extension No 1.