William Leonard Pacey was researched by local students in the Kenmore-Moggill RSL Sub-Branch schools program celebrating the Centenary of ANZAC in 2015 and the 100th Anniversary of the start of WWI.
William Leonard Pacey was born on 4 August, 1894 in Kenmore. He enlisted in the Australian Armed Forces on 8 August, 1914 in Brisbane at the tender age of 20. Prior to enlisting, William had been a farmer.
He embarked on his journey, to travel to the other side of the world to fight for his country, in August, 1914. After training in the Mena camp in Cairo, Egypt, he was sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Serving in the Australian Army, Service Number 1618, with the rank of Gunner in the 3rd AFA Brigade Australian Field Artillery during the First World War, William died on 25 August, 1915 on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, of wounds received in that campaign. After William’s death, his mother and father received a letter from a nurse, Ida L Burkett, aboard the SS Arcadia Hospital Ship. She wrote in the letter about William’s bravery and how much he cared for his family.
Nurse Burkett wrote: “The night before your son passed away, he asked me to write to you. He was very badly wounded, being hit in the shoulder and abdomen. His case was quite hopeless from the time we took him on board the hospital ship at Suvla Bay. I know you will be glad to hear he endured his sufferings with the greatest courage possible and through it all showed wonderful unselfishness and gentleness to those around him. I never heard him complain once, and we did all we could to ease his pain by continual injections of morphine. I do not think he realised how near the end he was, and during his last few hours of consciousness, he told me how beautiful Australia was, and was making plans for the future. He was looking forward to his 21st birthday cake you were sending him and to seeing England; we were on our way there. Then he asked me to write you, giving your address, and tell you how much more comfortable he was than when he was first wounded.
A few minutes later he became unconscious, and never spoke again, dying early in the morning. He was buried in the Mediterranean Sea,between Sicily and Malta. He was the bravest and kindest man I have ever met even amongst our many very brave, and his mother must be proud of him to the end of her days, for she was the last one his thoughts turned to at the close of his very short life.”
William’s sister later received a letter from his commanding officer, which read in part:
“Unfortunately I have to confirm the sad news of your brother’s death – Gunner W. L. Pacey. He was serving his gun with the detachments when an enemy shell burst over the gun pit and wounded him and some others. He was conveyed by stretcher to the beach, thence to the hospital ship. I wish to add my sincere sympathy and also that of your brother’s comrades goes out to you and the members of your family in your sad loss. It may afford you some slight satisfaction to know that as his commanding officer I have every reason to be satisfied with his services as a gunner in the battery. His conduct has always been most exemplary, and his services on the gun had been courageous and efficient. When the battery first came into action, your brother was in the detachments of the gun which I personally commanded, and in that first strenuous week, officers and men were drawn closer together than under ordinary circumstances. Living, eating, fighting and sleeping (when we did sleep) in the one gun pit developed a close comradeship amongst us all. You will then believe me when I tell you that I deplore your brother’s death and can only tender you my sincere condolence and assure you that your brother died as became a game and gallant gunner, and an Australian.”
Lest we forget.