|Service number||11272, 4272|
|Ranks Held||Corporal, Private, Sergeant|
|Birth Place||Australia: Victoria, Beechworth|
|Death Place||Australia: Victoria, Melbourne|
|Service||Australian Imperial Force|
Published in London Gazette in 1918-01-28
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1918-06-27
Sergeant William Edward Peach
William Edward Peach was born on 19 July 1896 at Beechworth, Victoria, one of ten children born to William Peach and Jane Adelaide Peach (née McGeehan). He was working as a postal assistant when he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on his 19th birthday, which required his parents’ written permission. He was allotted to the 7th Battalion as a private, service number 4272. Peach was promoted to lance corporal as he and other reinforcements left Melbourne on 29 December 1915 aboard HMAT Demosthenes.
In Egypt, the Australian infantry trained for the Western Front. In late March, the battalion sailed for France. Peach joined it in the line on 10 July 1916, two weeks before the battle of Pozières. In August he was confirmed as a lance corporal. In late September he was hospitalised in England with synovitis of the knee. He spent two months at the Norfolk War Hospital while his battalion endured winter on the Somme; in February 1917 he was released to duty.
The battalion’s first major action of 1917 was at Bullecourt in May, and Peach was promoted to corporal soon after. The battalion took part in the Ypres offensive, fighting at Menin Road in September and Broodseinde in October. Peach was awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Broodseinde, for taking charge of his platoon after its commander became a casualty, and displaying “conspicuous courage and initiative”. He would not know the reason for his award until he enquired in 1954.
In January 1918, Peach was gassed in action and was hospitalised in England. Returning to his unit in early May, he was wounded a week later by an artillery shell. He returned to his battalion on 11 August and was soon wounded in action for a third time with a gunshot wound to the right knee. Peach was invalided to England in early October, then sent back to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on 7 March 1919. In 1921 he married Lily Alice Daisy Mansfield, with whom he had four daughters. William Edward Peach died on 7 December 1966 at Melbourne, aged 70.