WADE, William
(Service number 1021)

Aliases Willie
First Rank Sapper Last Rank Sergeant


Date 15 April 1893 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 10 February 1915 Age 21 yrs 10 mths
Address at Enlistment
Occupation Telegraphist; wireless operator (Union Steam Ship Company)
Previous Military Experience No. 7 Coy Post & Telegraph Coy Wellington, NZ
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs W. HARNETT (mother), Gorge Road, Fairlie, South Canterbury, New Zealand
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 4 inches. Weight 140 lbs. Chest measurement 33-36 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair brown

Military Service

Served with Australian Imperial Force Served in
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation Australian Engineers
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 4th Division Signal Company
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With 4th DIvisional Signal Coy

Military Awards

Service Medals 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards MM (Military Medal); DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal)

Award Circumstances and Date

Military Medal - commended for devotion to duty and bravery in France on 16 April 1917. Distinguished Conduct Medal - commended for conspicuous bravery and unflinching devotion to duty on 2 October 1917 while repairing a damaged cable route from Westhork to Albert Redoubt in Belgium.

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Died of wounds, 21 October 1917

Post-war Occupations


Date 21 October 1917 Age 24
Place of Death Somewhere in France - 12th Australian Field Ambulance, Belgium 
Cause Died of wounds (shell wounds)
Notices Timaru Herald, 21 November 1917
Memorial or Cemetery Menin Road, West-Vlaanderen, Belgiumd South Military Cemetery
Memorial Reference III. L. 37.
New Zealand Memorials On Memorial wall, Timaru (also as W. HARNETT ?); Fairlie War Memorial; Fairlie Primary School Memorial; Fairlie School Hall Memorial; Australian War Memorial, Canberra   

Biographical Notes

Son of late James WADE & Winifred (Mrs HARNETT), of Fairlie. Brothers Hugh Joseph (Joe) & Edward James also served in WWI & were both fighting on the Western Front at the same time as Willie. One of a family with an exceptionally brilliant war record - William was awarded the Military Medal and D.C.M.; his brother Edward was awarded the Military Medal; another brother, Hugh Joseph (Joe) WADE, had a leg amputated. The extract from the London Gazette of 16th November 1917, which outlined the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, was sent to his mother on the 13th March 1918. And on 17 June 1918 the medal was forwarded, with the observations "a brave Australian soldier who nobly laid down his life in the services of our King and Country" and "whose magnificent conduct on the field of battle has helped to earn for our Australian soldiers a fame which will endure as long as memory lasts". Both Edward and William were in France when their brother Joseph had both legs smashed with shell. On his way to the Front, Willie's ship stopped in India. He was on board the HMT Southland travelling from Alexandria to Gallipoli  when it was torpedoed by a German submarine off the island of Lemnos on 2 September 1915. At Christmas 1915 he and other fellow Australian soldiers enjoyed "billies" of gifts sent from home - pipes, tobacco, cigarettes, tins of sardines, pakets of safety pins, some bachelor's buttons, some nuts. He was one of the last boatload to leave after the evacuation of Gallipoli. In March 1917 he was promoted to 2nd Corporal and in April to Corporal. William escaped wounds and illness until his supreme sacrifice. He was struck by a shrapnell bullet which pierced his steel helmet and penetrated his head. He was buried with all honours by a Catholic priest and a cross of oak from the destroyed Ypres Cathedral was erected over his grave. At the time of his death he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant. William's will of 27 July 1917 is incorporated into his Attestation Papers. He bequeaths all his property and effects to his mother (Mrs Winifred HARNETT). Messrs. Raymond, Raymond & Campbell, Solicitors, Stafford Street, Timaru, New Zealand, handled his estate. William's brother-in-law, Leonard Peter Robinson, wrote on behalf of William's mother asking about clasps and bars for the different engagements in which T/Sgt. W. Wade took part. In July 1918 L. P. Robinson received one package containing one medal. In 1919 a package of William's personal effects was sent, the contents being 1 suit pyjamas, 1 bathing costume, 1 shirt, 1 hairbrush, 1 jersey, 1 muffler, 1 sounder, 1 pr socks, 1 comb, 1 housewife. In 1920 (her previous reply having not been delivered) Winifred Harnett (William's mother) communicated to the Base Records Office in Melbourne, that she was his nearest living relative, his father had died at Timaru 15 years ago, and Sergt Wade had been her help and part of her support. The 1914/1915 Star was forwarded on 19 January 1921 and the British War Medal on 13 September 1921. A photograph is attached to a record of William in Mapping our Anzacs scrapbook ( See also William's letter to his sister - graphic description of their journey from Sydney in 1915 [T.H. 19 Aug 1915]; William's letter to his sister on Christmas 1915 [T.H. 16 March 1916]; Warrant Officer J. O'Brien's tribute to William [T.H. 4 Feb 1918] (copies included).


CWGC [26 August 2013]; Australian Military Forces - Australian Imperial Force records [26 August 2013]; Timaru Herald, 19 August 1915, 16 March 1916, 8 September 1917, 21 November 1917, 10 December 1917, 4 February 1918, 16 February 1918 (Papers Past) [02 November 2013]; Mapping our Anzacs scrapbook ( [26 August 2013; 02 & 06 November 2013]

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