Staff Sergeant Henry Leslie Williams

Service number 26090
Ranks Held Gunner, Staff Sergeant
Birth Date 26 February 1889
Birth Place Australia: South Australia, Adelaide, Kent Town
Death Date 03 September 1921
Death Place Australia: Victoria, Glenferrie
Final Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit 1st Australian Field Artillery Brigade
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918

Henry Leslie (Bluey) Williams was born on 26 February 1889 at Kent Town, South Australia, to parents Samuel Henry Williams and Jeannie Somerville Williams (née Young). Williams was the only son and had four sisters. Little is known about his early life but his parents were living in Broken Hill, New South Wales in 1913; Henry’s occupation was recorded as shop assistant in the 1913 census. It appears Williams may have later worked for the South Australian Railways (SAR), or the Silverton Tramway Company as an ironmonger in Broken Hill. At the time of his enlistment his name was on an honour board for SAR employees at Adelaide railway station; ironmonger was the occupation recorded on his enlistment form. His enlistment record also shows service for 18 months as a Senior Cadet in the Australian Cadet Corps.

Williams enlisted at Adelaide on 6 August 1915 and was allocated to the 4th Reinforcements for the 15th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) as a gunner. In April 1916 Williams was promoted to corporal, and in July 1916 to acting sergeant. He embarked from Melbourne in August 1916 aboard the troopship Orsova and disembarked at Plymouth, England, on 14 September. In December Williams was sent to France, and was taken on strength in the 1st FAB in February 1917. During early March, Williams was admitted to No. 11 Stationary Hospital at Rouen, France, with rheumatic fever; following his release from hospital, he was assigned to the Australian General Base Depot until September.

In September 1917 Williams was attached to the 1st Anzac Headquarters for duty with the concert party, which began his time as a regular member with the Anzac Coves. Concert programs in the AWM’s collection record Williams as providing bass and baritone accompanimentfor the concert party from December 1917 until at least August 1918; he also took part in their pantomime “Dick Whittington and his Cat”. Williams was promoted to staff sergeant in February 1919. He continued to serve in France until April 1919, when he returned to Australia aboard the troopship Main. He disembarked in October and was discharged on 21 November 1919.

Williams married Alma Myrtle Graham in 1921 and the couple had three children.

There are few records of William’s activities after the war, although Australian electoral rolls show his occupation as a commercial traveller living in Camberwell, Victoria, between 1925 and 1936, and as a manager living in Auburn, Victoria, between 1943 and 1954.

Henry Leslie Williams died at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Victoria on 9 May 1960 aged 71. Alma Williams died at Heidelberg, Victoria in 1972 at the age of 81.



Date of birth 26 February 1889
Date of enlistment 20 August 1915
Date of embarkation 01 August 1916
Date returned to Australia 23 July 1919
Date of death 03 September 1921