Biography

Birth date: 18 February 1861
Birth place: United Kingdom: Scotland, Greenock
Death date: 18 May 1915
Death place: Ottoman Empire: Turkey, Gallipoli
Final rank: Major General
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Units:
  • 1 Division Headquarters
  • Australian Division
  • SPECIAL SERVICE OFFICERS
  • Staff
  • Army Corps Headquarters

William Throsby Bridges was born at Greenock, Scotland, on 18 February 1861. As a youth he moved to Canada, where he later entered the Royal Military College but failed to graduate. In 1879 Bridges moved to Australia and joined the civil service, working in Braidwood, Murrurundi, and Narrabri. He returned to military life in 1885, taking a permanent commission in the artillery, and that same year married his wife, Edith. For the next few years he held various positions at the School of Gunnery and attended several gunnery courses in England, passing them with distinction. Bridges served with the British army in South Africa from 1899 until he was evacuated with enteric fever in 1900. In January 1909 he became Australia's first chief of the general staff and the next year was tasked with founding Australia's first military college, the Royal Military College at Duntroon.

By the time the First World War had broken out Bridges had attained the rank of brigadier general and was given the task of raising an Australian contingent for service in Europe. He was promoted to major general in August 1914 and was appointed the commander of the new Australian Imperial Force. Bridges travelled to Egypt with the first contingent in October and started to record his experiences in a diary from early 1915. From this diary we can observe the evolution of planning for the Gallipoli campaign, including his meetings with commanders like Lieutenant General William Birdwood and General Sir Ian Hamilton and with various Australian commanders who would rise to prominence in the years to come.

Bridges' division was the first ashore at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915 and very soon after he argued for immediate evacuation, owing to what he saw as a hopeless situation. The force stayed and he began paying routine visits to the firing line, showing disregard for his own safety. On 15 May a sniper's bullet severed his femoral artery and he died three days later on board a hospital ship. He became the only Australian killed in the First World War to have his remains returned to Australia; he was buried at Duntroon.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Major General
  • Date of Death: 18 May 1915
  • Unit: 1 Division Headquarters
  • Rank: Major
  • Unit: SPECIAL SERVICE OFFICERS
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Date of embarkation: 21 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Unit: Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Army Corps Headquarters
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

Digitised Collection

Timeline

Date of birth 1861-02-18 Greenock, Scotland.
Other 1877 Entered Royal Military College at Kingston, Canada.
Other 1879 Came to Australia.
Other 1886 Applied for and obtained a comission in the New South Wales Permanent Artillery and was stationed at Middle Head, Sydney.
Date promoted 1890 Appointed captain and sent to England for training at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and the Royal School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness.
Date returned to Australia 1893 Appointed chief instructor at the School of Gunnery Middle Head, Sydney.
Other 1899 Volunteered for service in the Boer War, South Africa.
Date returned to Australia 1900-07 Resumed his position as chief instructor at the School of Gunnery Middle Head, Sydney.
Date promoted 1902-07 Promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Date promoted 1903 Appointed assistant quartermaster general, AIF Headquarters, Melbourne.
Date promoted 1904 Appointed chief of intelligence officer on Australia's first military board of administration.
Date promoted 1906-10 Promoted to colonel.
Date promoted 1909-01-01 Appointed chief of the Australian General Staff.
Other 1909-04-25 Relinquished the post of Chief of the General Staff and travelled to England to become the Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff.
Date of honour or award 1909-06-25 Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).
Date returned to Australia 1910 Appointed the first Commandant of the Royal Military College at Duntroon with the rank of brigadier general.
Date promoted 1914-05 Appointed inspector general of the Australian Army.
Date promoted 1914-08 Took command of the 1st Australian Imperial Force and was promoted to the rank of major general.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-21
Other 1914-11-30 1st Division arrived in Eygpt.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915
Other 1915-04-25 1st Division landed at Gallipoli.
Date wounded 1915-05-15 Shot by a sniper.
Date of honour or award 1915-05-17 Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).
Date of death 1915-05-18 Died of wounds. His body was brought back to Australia for burial on Mt Pleasant, Canberra.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-05-21
Date of honour or award 1915-08-05 Recieved a posthumous Mention in Despatches.