Soldier’s Letters: Written by Signaller/Sergeant W. H. Pethard, 7th Battalion, between 1914 and 1917

Signaller W. H. Pethard, 7th Battalion, 24 May 1915

Soldier Identified: Signaller William Henry Pethard, Service No: 811, 7th Battalion, 1st Australian Overseas Expeditionary Force, A.I.F. Returned to Australia, 19 December 1918.

Originally published: The Herald (Melbourne) 3 July 1915

Hailed by his comrades as one risen from the dead — for it was reported that he had lost his life on the battlefield — Signaller W. H. Pethard, in a letter dated May 24, tells his Bendigo friends of the incident.

“I had rather an exciting few minutes,” he says, “when I visited the 4th Light Horse to say good-bye to a few Bendigo boys. They had been informed definitely of my death on the battlefield, so you can just imagine the looks of astonishment that greeted me when I went up to them. Why, they could hardly believe their own eyes. The news was given to them on such good authority that several had written to Bendigo announcing my death.”

In an earlier letter Signaller Pethard says,

“The Turks are great cowards, and are driven on by their German officers, but the Australians shrink at nothing. Bloodshed is bound to be enormous. Our boys fight with out any officers If it so happens, and willingly and with a firm resolve not to give in until our purpose is accomplished and the enemy is defeated and crushed. Many of our lads will be maimed for life, and many will lose their lives, but we do not murmur as we are fighting, we believe, for a righteous cause, and are willing to pay the price, whatever it be.”

Signaller Pethard was hit on the jaw, and after being under the X-rays, he was operated on and the bullet removed from the inside of the mouth. He also received a shrapnel wound below the temple, which, he says, is healing.

Men of the 7th Battalion Behind Mud Ramparts at Cape Helles, Prior to the 2nd Brigade Attack Under General M’Cay. (Courtesy: Australian War Memorial)

Sources:

  1. Back from the Dead (1915, July 3). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), p. 1. 
  2. Men of the 7th Battalion Behind Mud Ramparts at Cape Helles, Prior to the 2nd Brigade Attack Under General M’Cay. Australian War Memorial

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