• Vivian Williscroft

Army / Flying Corps
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  • Birth

    Hobart, TAS, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Pontville TAS, Australia

Stories and comments
    • ‘I am willing … to go anywhere and do anything … for him …’: Vivian Williscroft
    • Posted by NAAadmin, Monday, 20 April 2015

    In August 1937 Mrs Daisy Williscroft wrote to the Repatriation authorities in Hobart for help with her husband Vivian. For years he had suffered from war neurosis, fits, shortness of breath, stammering, headaches, giddiness, sleeplessness and high blood pressure. Vivian Williscroft had seen only five days active service in World War I. He had landed with the 12th Battalion on the first day at Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, but on 30 April was evacuated to a hospital ship suffering shock after a nearby shell burst. The diagnosis was bruising, contusion, and ‘affected speech’. After eight months’ treatment Williscroft’s stammer was so bad he was discharged from the AIF as unfit for further service, and returned to Australia. Those five days on Gallipoli ruined his health for the rest of his life. The Hobart winters were particularly harsh, Daisy wrote, in her plea for help. Her husband was in bed with pleurisy at that time. But while visiting her sister in Sydney, Daisy realised that Vivian might benefit from the dry mild climate there. To his doctor at the Repatriation hospital in Hobart, she wrote: ‘It is so hard to know what to do for the best, but I know he would welcome the change’. Although Williscroft had held down a job at the Electrolytic Zinc Company in Hobart for many years, by the mid-1930s his health was breaking down. He had argued that all his health problems stemmed from high blood pressure – an outcome of his war service, he claimed – but the department would not accept this. Only his stammer was recognised as war related, and for that he was paid a pension of 12.5 per cent of a livelihood on the general labour market. With a wife and daughter to support, Williscroft obviously had to work. After a more than a decade of this, the pressure on the Williscroft family was too much. Fortunately the doctor did recommend a change of climate, and after living between Hobart and Sydney for a few years, the family moved in 1939 firstly to Sydney, and later to Orange. In 1938, having not worked for two years, Williscroft’s pension increased to 100 per cent because of his ‘neurosis, stammering and fits’. Vivian Williscroft died in Orange in May 1944 of heart disease, hypertension and bronchitis. Daisy had looked after Vivian to the end. After enduring so many years of medical examinations and treatments, he refused to see a doctor, and Daisy only managed by subterfuge to get his local GP into the house for a few visits. It was families, especially wives, who did most of the caring of war damaged veterans. Exactly what Daisy had to endure as she struggled to care for an invalid husband and raise a daughter, can only be imagined. The Repatriation Department did not accept Williscroft’s cause of death as war related, and also rejected a claim Daisy made for a war widow’s pension. An appeal on her behalf by the RSL was also rejected.

    Portion of the letter Vivian wrote to the repatriation authorities