William Joseph Armstrong

June 16, 2015

ARMSTRONG, William Joseph- – – – SPC 1905-1906

DoB:- – 1890, East Ballarat, VIC

Father:– – William Richard Armstrong, postal official

Mother:– Nellie (Helena), nee Duffy

William Armstrong was a music student and while at St Patrick’s College became a proficient violinist, a well regarded member of the College orchestra and a gifted soloist. After he left SPC he embarked on a musical career, and gave his profession as Musician on his attestation papers.

Service No:– 1795

Rank:- – Private

Unit:– – 29th Battalion, later 14th Battalion

William Armstrong enlisted on 22 July 1915 when he was 25 years and one month old. His attestation papers note that he had a sallow complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. He was five feet, seven and a half inches tall.

In the months after enlisting he was based at Broadmeadows training camp. He left Australia for active service overseas, proceeding to Egypt, where he was appointed to the 14th Battalion in March 1916. It seems that for the entire time of his service, in Egypt and later in France, he was plagued with venereal disease. He spent 42 days at the venereal hospital at Tel-el-Kebir in March 1916, and from September to December 1917 spent several occasions while in France in the VD hospital at Havre.

The College Annual of 1916-17 noted that –

-‘Pte W J Armstrong, of the 14th Battalion, 4th Brigade, AIF, has sent to his father (Mr W R Armstrong) some very interesting letters, giving an account of Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Cairo and other places of interest. He tells how his Bible history lessons had been revised by seeing the spot where Moses was found in the bull-rushes, the mountain where he was handed the Commandments, etc. Willie is now in France, and has been through a lot of trench life. He stated that though the times on the battlefield were strenuous, and the dangers many, yet the Australians were cheerful, healthy and happy’.

In December 1917 Private Armstrong was transferred to England from hospital in Havre, France. By the 10 January 1918 he was aboard the Corinthe bound for Australia for a change to help heal his -‘neurosis’.

William Armstrong married in 1932, aged 42, to Elsie Myra Davies in Melbourne. They lived in Warrandyte, Victoria and had no children. Elsie pre-deceased her husband, who himself died at the relatively young age of 58 years on 17 July 1948. His occupation was given as surgical dresser so, sadly, he had not continued with his music career after returning from the war.

He was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton, Victoria.