William Bentham

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Salford, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom

General information

Church of England

Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 41st Bn. ( The Byron Scottish )  (Last known unit)

Information about death

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


Dochy Farm New British Cemetery
Plot: VIII
Row: C
Grave: 6

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

William Bentham, a former oysterman, was born on the 4th of November 1889 in Manchester, England. He was the son of William and Mary Jennings, who had both died by the time William was 21 years old. Before the war he emigrated to Australia. On November 5th, 1915, he enlisted in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. William served as a Private in “B” Company, 41st Battalion Australian Infantry, part of the 11th Australian Brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division.

On the 4th of October 1917 the 41st Australian Infantry Battalion took part in the Battle of Broodseinde, a sub battle in the Battle of Passchendaele. The 3rd Australian Division was to attack along the Ypres-Zonnebeke Railway with the 10th Brigade to left and 11th Brigade to the right. The 11th Australian Brigade planned to attack four objectives in a leapfrog motion. They assigned each battalion under their command to an objective. The 43rd Australian Infantry Battalion had to capture the first objective, the 42nd Battalion the second objective and the 44th Battalion third objective. The 41st Battalion was tasked with capturing the final objective. This was a line running from a point about 150 metres southeast of Tyne Cot Cemetery to a point about 200 metres west of Dairy Wood.

At 5 a.m. on October 4th, 1917, the 41st Australian Infantry Battalion was in position at the assembly position between Dochy Farm and Hill 40. Thirty minutes later a German artillery barrage hit the assembly area and caused slight losses. At 6 a.m. the 11th Australian Brigade attacked. The first objective was quickly captured, followed by the second objective at 7:10 a.m. The third objective was reached by 8.25 a.m. and four minutes later the 41st Battalion passed through the 42nd Battalion holding line and attacked the final objective. This objective was captured around 9:30 a.m. At that time, the battalion estimated that they had about 240 casualties. The 41st Battalion started consolidating the line, with “D”, “C” and “A” Companies on the left, centre and right respectively. “E” and “B” Companies assisted the others in building defences and then withdrew to build their own trench behind the line held by the other companies. During the day and the following night, the Germans counterattacked on many occasions, with large counterattacks at 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. These attacks were repulsed, however. On the 5th of October 1917 the front line was relatively quiet. The following day, at 3 a.m. the 41st Battalion Australian Infantry Battalion was relieved by the 2/6th Manchester Regiment and returned to Ypres without further casualties.

William Bentham, aged 27, was killed in action on October 5th, 1917. He was one of the estimated 270 casualties of the 41st Battalion Australian Infantry Battalion between the 3rd and 6th of October. Private Bentham was initially buried south of Tyne Cot Cemetery in grid square 28.D.17.c near Marne. This corresponds with the final objective held by the 41st Battalion. His remains were exhumed on the 31st of October 1919 and interred at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, plot VIII, row C, grave 6.

Sources 5

11th Infantry Brigade (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/11/11).
Sources used
41st Infantry Battalion (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/58/12).
Sources used
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911 (The National Archives, Kew (TNA), RG14).
Sources used
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 3