Anzac Centenary series: Missing soldier had been taken prisoner

William Howard was reported missing in action in France in 1917. He had been gassed and taken prisoner.

William Howard was reported missing in action in France in 1917. He had been gassed and taken prisoner.

The City of Greater Bendigo has created a website for next year's Anzac Day centenary celebrations. Today we continue a series showcasing the website...

William Donald Howard

Regimental Number 73, 14th Battalion, 4th Brigade, A Company, AIF.

Son of Robert and Catherine Howard, their address was Hallam Street, Quarry Hill.

Bill Howard was born on May 13, 1891; he was educated at Quarry Hill State School.

Employed as a driller at Thompsons Foundry, Bill enlisted in Bendigo on September 13, 1914.

He left Bendigo by train on September 17 for Broadmeadows Army Training Camp to join the Second Expeditionary Force on Saturday, September 18, 1914.

Bill served in Egypt and landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. 

He was wounded at Courtney’s Post on May 19, 1915, when he volunteered with Bendigo mates Steve De Araugo and Dick Poliness to assist Lance Corporal Albert Jacka in dispelling Turkish soldiers from the trenches (Albert was to be awarded the Victoria Cross in this action). 

Later invalided back to Australia and discharged from the army only to rejoin, Bill re-embarked on September 7, 1916, arrived in England and was sent to France on December 9. 

Bill was reported missing in action on April 11, 1917. 

He was gassed and captured by the Germans at Bullecourt and made a prisoner of war. Bill was released at the end of the war.

Extract from the diary of William Howard:

We left Lemnos Harbour on  April 25, 1915, at 9.30am. We are in hearing of the big guns now. There are about 20 battleships, 12 destroyers and three submarines including AEQ, one repair ship, numerous torpedo boats, about 12 minesweepers and 120 transport boats, that is troop ships. It is a good sight. We arrived at our landing place about 4pm the same day. 

It is now April 30, 1915. We are resting; it is very trying in the trenches waiting for the Turks to pop up their heads. We suffered very badly by the snipers.

Read more – Bill Howard’s diary is located at the Bendigo District RSL Soldiers Memorial Institute, Pall Mall

– Material supplied by Ms A & M Howard of Bendigo

Private Robert John Flack

Private Robert John Flack died in France on August 17, 1916. 

He is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France. 

Robert was born in 1892 at White Hills to John and Mary Flack, nee Conway. 

Robert enlisted on July 17, 1915. 

He was aged 23, and a labourer of Sandhurst, Bendigo. 

His next of kin was listed as his father, J. Flack, of Mulkland Road, Bendigo. 

Robert was issued Service No. 3035 and served with the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion. 

He embarked from Melbourne on September 26, 1915, with the 7th Infantry Battalion – 9 to 12 Reinforcements per RMS Osterley.

–  The Bendigonian, Thursday, August 22, 1918 

Family Notices For Freedom's Cause. IN MEMORIAM. FLACK. — In loving memory of our dear brother, Private R. J. (Bob) Flack, killed in action somewhere in France, August 17, 1916. 

Roses may wither, leaves fade and die, If others forget you, never shall we; He sleeps not in his native land, But under foreign skies; Far, far from those who love him, In a hero's grave he lies, R.I.P. — Inserted by his loving sisters, Annie, May and Julia.

Source: Mrs Bev Hanson

Read more on the Anzac Centenary website at www.anzaccentenarybendigo.com.au

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