The Lost Diggers of Fromelles

A Project by St Mary's Cathedral College

Albert Williamson - Regimental number 4249 - 54th Battalion

Born in the NSW town of Canowindra , Albert Williamson was the tenth child of Joseph and Cecilia Williamson. A 22 year-old labourer he was living at Rose Villa with his mother, his father having passed away, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Cootamundra in August 1915.

Originally assigned to the 2nd battalion he was transferred to the newly created 54th battalion when he arrived in Egypt , moving to the Suez Canal and proceeding to undertake further training. After moving with his battalion to France in June onboard the Caledonian he proceeded to billets in Northern France .

The 54th took part in the allied attacks on Fromelles as one of the attacking battalions of the 14th brigade. Albert, having reached the German lines was killed during the night, his body recovered by the Germans and buried in the mass grave at Pheasant Wood.

 

Private Williamson’s Service Record gives no details of his death except that he was reported missing on 21st July 1916 and a Court of Inquiry nearly twelve months later resulted in an entry officially listing him as killed in action on 20th July 1916. Importantly Private Williamson’s Service Record does contain the original German ‘death voucher’ which was completed by the German Army when Private Williamson was buried and was returned with his identification tags to the Australian Army via the German Red Cross. A photograph of the original document can be seen in the Service Record of Private Albert Williamson available on line at the National Archives of Australia.

 

The newspaper clipping above was printed in the Sydney Mail on 20th August 1919. In the feature Mrs Cecilia Williamson, 3 years after the Battle of Fromelles, is seeking to find more information on how her son, the 10th of her 13 children, had died. It is not known if she received any further details from any other soldiers.

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Ian I recently went out to the family gravesite at Canowindra. I came across graves that depicted your last name. Emma Wilcox who passed away 31.3.14 aged 24 months, Frederick Brown who passed away 20.5.1892, Leo Roy Brown who passed away 25.5.1895, Valdis Guy Brown who passed away 9.9.1899, Thomas Christopher Brown Born 7.5.1864 and died 18.2.1932 and Clara Ellen Brown died 1.12.1933 aged 49. Are these people direct descendants of yours?

Hi Jane

Hope you enjoyed Canowindra, it is a great little town, we are regularly there, as the farm is still in the family. EmmaWilcox is my cousin Allen's daughter who tragically died this year aged 24years. I have not checked the family tree for the names you mentioned but this is certainly a brown Williamson wilcox cemetery. Our email address is ipwilcox@bigpond.com if you need to contact us

Cheers Philippa for Ian

It is good to finally meet someone that is related to me. I am so excited. Can you tell me if the homestead Rose Villa is still standing? I spoke to my Aunty and she said that she remembers her Dad, Clarence William Williamson, my grandfather saying that he use to play on Narang Mountain. He wasn't living out there for very long as his Dad passed away when my grandfather was young. Thanks for your email address, my email is janie_hallows@hotmail.com. 

To give you a little background on my family ties, my maiden name is Williamson, My grandfather (as noted above) was the son of Joseph Harold Williamson who married Clarissa Susan Copson. Joseph Harold's father was Joseph Williamson who married Cecilia Brown. The picture shown below is my direct family. I have other photo's which once downloaded will send them to you. Please stay in touch, where abouts do you live? I am currently living near Gosford (on the Central Coast) of NSW.

Hi, I've tried to reply a couple of times before, maybe it will work this time.

I’m a distant Williamson cousin. I was brought up near Templepatrick in County Antrim where the family lived for several generations. My brothers and sister still live in County Antrim, but I moved to England when I married, and we have made our home in the West Country.
 
My Great, Great Grandfather John Williamson was a brother of Andrew and William who emigrated to New South Wales, and Thomas, who emigrated to Oregon, USA. Albert was a grandson of William, so I don't know what that makes my relationship, other than a distant cousin interested in Family History!
Out of curiosity, when I was in the Old Presbyterian Church in Templepatrick, where the family used to worship, there was a John Williamson listed on the war memorial as having served in the Australian Army in WW1. I haven’t managed to track down his history yet, I really need a day or two in the records office next time I’m in Northern Ireland.
We have visited some of the battlefields where my Grandfather served from 1914 - 1916, and hope to visit Fromelles in the near future as well.

Hi Jonathan I have done some more investigating and have found ties with family in Templepatrick. As soon as I can I will forward you a copy of the Williamson family tree. You might be able to fill in some blanks for me. My email is janie_hallows@hotmail.com. As you probably are aware I currently live in Australia. Will keep in touch as information comes available. Love from Jane Hallows (nee Williamson)

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