William Fraley Deschamps

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Coonambula, Queensland, Australia

General information

Last known residence:
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Roman Catholic

Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 25th Bn. (Queensland)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

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


Tyne Cot Cemetery
Plot: XXV
Row: H
Grave: 20

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 Fraley Deschamps, a former carter, was born in 1892 in Coonambelah, Queensland, Australia. He was the youngest son of August Victor Deschamps and Rose Hind. His father August was born in Caen, Normandy, France and emigrated to Australia when he was 15 years old. William’s mother Rose originally hailed from England. Her family moved to Australia in the 1870’s. On October 23, 1916 he enlisted in Townsville, Queensland and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on December 23, 1916, with the 18th reinforcement of the 25th Battalion, part of the 7th Australian Brigade of the 2nd Australian Division. His brother, Wallace Victor, died of disease in Cairo, Egypt.

William joined up in October 1916 and served in the Australian Infantry 25th Battalion, part of the 7th Australian Brigade, of the 2nd Australian Division. From September onwards the Division participated in the Battle of Passchendaele and on 20 September 1917 it attacked Anzac Ridge with two Brigades, the 7th Australian Brigade on the right and the 5th Australian Brigade on the left. Its jump off line was just east of the hamlet of Westhoek. The attack of the 7th brigade was carried by the 25th Battalion; the 27th was in support and the 28th in reserve.

The 25th Battalion advanced at 5.40 a.m. They moved through the Haenebeek valley and the northern outskirts of the Nonne Bosschen. They met little resistance and managed to consolidate the Red Line by 6.10 a.m. Not an hour later the 27th Battalion passed through and went to the Blue Line. They were equally successful. By 8.10 a.m. the 28th Battalion advanced from Westhoek Ridge. They captured and secured the final objective by 10 a.m.
The attack had been a success. Even the German artillery had been fairly quiet during the attack, but around noon the Germans started shelling the captured ground and two posts in the 25th Battalion’s line took a direct hit. The men of the 25th held their ground and were relieved during the following night. Notwithstanding the success of the attack, the Battalion had suffered heavy casualties. Thirty-three men were killed, ten men died of their wounds, 128 men were wounded and four men went missing.

William Fraley, aged 25, was killed in action on September 21, 1917. He was initially buried on the Zonnebeke Chateau grounds, just west of De Knoet Farm (28.D.28.a.70.60), which was still held by the Germans at the time. Possibly he was captured on September 20. His remains were exhumed and reinterred at Tyne Cot Cemetery; Plot 25, Row H, Grave 20.

Files 3

Sources 7

"Black over Blue: The 25th Battalion, AIF at War 1915-1918", Doneley B., Toowoomba, USQ Press, 1997, pg. 96-103.
Sources used
"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 80-113.
Sources used
25th Battalion Australian Infantry (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/42/25).
Sources used
7th Brigade Australian Infantry (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/7/25).
Sources used
Further reference
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920 (National Archives of Australia, Canberra (NAA), B2455).
Sources used
Unit embarkation nominal rolls, 1914-18 War (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM8).
Sources used

More information 4