William (Willie) Hyams

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

General information

Last known residence:
46 Delbridge Street, Fitzroy North, Victoria, Australia

Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 24th Bn. (Victoria)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Zonnebeke Lake, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Plot: XXIX
Row: C
Grave: 7

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 ‘Place of death’

My story

William ‘Willie’ Hyams, a former bootmaker, was born in 1886 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He was the son of Rachel and Phillip Hyams and was married to Ethel May Hyams with which he had two daughters. On March 11, 1916 he enlisted in Melbourne and embarked from Melbourne on board HMAT A28 Miltiades on August 1, 1916, with the 14th reinforcement of the 24th Battalion, part of the 6th Australian Brigade of the 2nd Australian Division.

On the 4th of October Willie’s Battalion was to capture the Broodseinde Ridge, but first they had to skirt through the Chateau park of Zonnebeke. The 24th assembled near Tokio. They made use of shell holes and old trench systems to form a line.

At 5.30 a.m. moments before the Battalion would attack, the German artillery, started shelling the jump-off line. The Germans planned an attack of their own, hoping to recapture Zonnebeke. In the 24th Battalion alone, forty men and two officers were killed instantly. The battalion’s strength was reduced by thirty per cent, even before the attack had commenced.

At 6 a.m. the British and Australian artillery opened fire on the German positions and the troops started to advance. The 22nd led off, followed by the 21st and 24th. The three battalions had to storm the front over 3oo yards right of the lake. Once they passed the lake the units on the left had to change direction to cover the ground allotted to them.

When the Germans left their positions, they were caught in the field by the Allied barrage. They were quickly dispersed, killed or taken prisoner by the advancing Australians.

William, aged 30, was killed in action on October 4, 1917. Private Hyams was found after the war where he fell, near Zonnebeke Lake, right in front off the present day entrance of the Passchendaele Museum (28.D.28.a.20.40). It’s highly possible he was killed, due to the German shelling on the jumping-off line at the lake. His remains were exhumed and reinterred at Buttes New British Cemetery; Plot 29, Row C, Grave 7.

Files 2

Sources 7

"The Red and White Diamond: The Official History of the 24th Battalion Australian Imperial Force." Harvey W.J., Uckfield, The Naval & Military Press Ltd, 1920, p. 179-190.
Sources used
"The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995, pg. 99."
Sources used
24th Battalion Australian Infantry (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/41/25).
Sources used
6th Brigade Australian Infantry (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/6/26).
Sources used
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920 (National Archives of Australia, Canberra (NAA), B2455).
Sources used
National Archives of Australia
Sources used
Unit embarkation nominal rolls, 1914-18 War (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM8).
Sources used

More information 4