From the Western Mail, 5/7/1918 p. 26.

Private William Joseph Dwyer

St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour

Born: 1892 - Pakenham, Victoria

Enlisted: 24 January 1917 aged 25

Unit: 1st Battalion, 24th Reinforcement (SERN: 7233)

Served: Western Front

Died: 18 February 1955 - Penshurst, NSW

 

William was a younger brother of Thomas Dwyer. He also attended St Patrick’s School before the family moved to Perth. William was working as a coal lumper in Sydney when he enlisted in early 1917. Coal lumpers worked on Sydney Harbour moving coal from colliers to other vessels. Perhaps reflecting the desperate need by 1917 for reinforcements on the Western Front, William was quickly embarked for England, where he received further military training. He was then taken on strength with the 1st Battalion, AIF on the Western Front. There, on 27 May 1918, he was wounded in action (1). William may have been part of a patrol sent out that day to raid the German trenches near Strazeele as described in the 1st Battalion’s War Diary: "Patrol of 1 off[icer] and 14 O[ther] ranks left our lines at 11:40pm with the object of raiding enemy post ... Before reaching objective patrol was observed by enemy who opened fire. Post was eventually rushed and fight ensued in which patrol leader and 7 other ranks were wounded. Two men succeeded in entering post which enemy then vacated. Our party then withdrew and returned to our lines at 1:30am. One other rank who was wounded was reported missing" (2). William was sent to an Army hospital at Wimereux, near Boulogne, France (3). As this was just a couple of months after his brother was killed in action, his parents back in Perth must have been greatly relieved to learn that William was recovering from his injuries. Photographs of the two brothers appeared together in a special “Western Australian Heroes” feature in Perth’s Western Mail newspaper in July 1918 (4).

By the time William rejoined his unit, there was less than two months left in the War. William remained in Europe until July 1919, when he was repatriated to Australia. He was discharged from the Army in Perth in October 1919 (5). Later, William returned to NSW. In his last years, he was working as a market attendant in Sydney (6). He died in February 1955. 

Sources:

(1) (3) & (5) NAA B2455, DWYER, W J

(2) AWM 23/18/31 Unit War Diary for 1st Infantry Battalion May 1918 p. 15

(4) Western Mail (Perth) 5/7/1918, p. 26

(6) Information sourced from Ancestry.com.au

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