Diary of William Edward Peach, 1918-1919

Accession Number RCDIG0001560
Collection number PR00597
Collection type Digitised Collection
Record type File
Item count 1
Object type Diary
Physical description 43 Image/s captured
Maker Peach, William Edward
Place made France, United Kingdom
Date made 1918-1919
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
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Diary relating to the First World War service of 4272 Sergeant William Edward Peach, 7th Battalion. The entries in this diary span the period 8 May 1918 to 10 January 1919.

Peach begins by detailing his return to his France, entering a camp at Etaples in preparation for re-joining the 7th Battalion in the field. Returning to his battalion on 13 May, he writes of being placed in command of No. 2 Platoon. Just two days later, on the morning of 15 May, Peach describes being buried in rubble after the house in which he and several other soldiers were billeted collapsed after being hit by a German shell. Seriously injured but able to crawl out of the wreckage, he writes that standing in the doorway at the time of the collapse saved his life. The collapse would claim the lives of 1757 Lance Sergeant Andrew John Gray, Second Lieutenant Albert Frank Mettam and 3011 Sergeant Leslie James Gordon Clark.

Peach records his hospitalisation at No. 13 American General Hospital in Boulogne, writing that it was the worst hospital he had been in. Subsequently sent to No. 1 Australian Convalescent Camp at Le Havre, he writes of attending YMCA concerts, the beautiful countryside, and reaching his 22nd birthday on 19 July 1918.

After his discharge at the start of August, Peach returns to his battalion. He writes of the wounded streaming in at Vignacourt on 8 August, marking the first day of the Battle of Amiens and the wider offensive later known as the Hundred Days Offensive. Several days later Peach records the death of 4274 Private Frederick William ‘Fred’ Plunkett, a mate who he had left Australia with back in December 1915.

Peach records the capture the ridge of Chuignes on the south side of the River Somme on 23 August, as part of Second Battle of Albert. Several days later, he writes of a “whizz bang” (or German shell) injuring him in the back and right knee. Peach is once again hospitalised, first at No. 5 General Hospital in Rouen, which he considers a good hospital, and later at 2nd Southern Military Hospital in England. He writes of the news of the armistice from his hospital bed, his leg set in plaster from ankle to thigh. Peach is then sent to No. 3 Australian Auxiliary Hospital in early December where he continues to record the various Australians he meets.

After recording one final sightseeing trip to London, Peach’s entries in his diary conclude with his return to Australia aboard the troopship Kanowna in early January 1919.