• Billy Elsdale

Army / Flying Corps
  • Private

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  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Birth

    Normanby, Cooktown, QLD, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Toowoomba, QLD, Australia

Stories and comments
    • Billy Elsdale - Aboriginal Servicemen
    • Posted by GregoryCope40, Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    Private Billy Elsdale, a Tracker from Normanby [I think this refers to Normanby Station located near Warrell View – this is a very early property which had indigenous people living and working there. He enlisted in September 1915 and initially joined the 9th Battalion before being reallocated to the 47th Battalion on the Western Front where died in battle. He signed with a X and his complexion was ‘half caste’!

    • Billy Elsdale #4484: newspaper references 'Townsville Daily Bulletin' and 'North Queensland Register'
    • Posted by untilthedawn, Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    Newspaper References In the 'Townsville Daily Bulletin', 10 October 1916 on page 8, there is an advertisement for the 'North Queensland Register' weekly newspaper which states that the week's illustrations include a number of soldiers (Roll of Honor), one of the soldiers' names is listed as: 'Police Tracker, Billy Elsdale, Charleville, killed'. Link: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62256863 Trove Online (National Libraries of Australia) only seems to have editions of the 'North Queensland Register' up to the year 1905 unfortunately. There is reference to Billy Esdale (surname misspelled) in the 'Townsville Daily Bulletin', 24 October 1916, page 5: "...Billy Esdale, aboriginal half-caste, killed in France". Link: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article62254615

    • Billy Elsdale #4484: service record excerpts
    • Posted by untilthedawn, Tuesday, 21 April 2015

    Service Record Excerpts P69: Reported killed in action, 7 July 1916. P42: Letter dated 14 June 1923 from the District Finance Officer to the Base Records Office in Melbourne. States Billy Elsdale's father as Mr. David Hugh Elsdale of Bell in Queensland. P40: Letter dated 12 April 1923, sent to Billy's sister, Mrs. L. Brennan, of North Street, Dalby, Queensland from Base Records. P39: Letter dated 26 April 1923, from Billy's father to Base Records. P25: States Billy Elsdale was reburied in Rue David Military Cemetery in France, Plot 2, Row E, Grave 44. Cemetery located three and a quarter miles south-south-west of Armentieres. P16: Letter dated 27 July 1917 from the Inspector (Cobb & Co. Ltd, Charleville), advising: 'Jack Cochrane has been in our employ as groom here for the last 25 years and was a mate of W. Elsdale.' P15: Letter dated 1 August 1917 from J. Cochrane to the Assistant Adjutant General, Victoria Barracks, Brisbane: "Dear Sir, Re your enquiries in the 'Courier' Wed 25th for my address. I presume it is in regard to the estate of the Late Private W. Elsdale No 4484 - 47 Battalion, A.I.F. who was killed in action some time back. I am in the employ of Cobb & Co. Charleville and have been for many years past. My present address is: J. Cochrane, Cobb & Co, Charleville." P12: Letter (picture letterhead) dated 28 July 1917 from Billy's aunt: "Doggett St., Valley [Brisbane] Dear Sir, Seeing a request for the next of kin of No 4484 Private W. Elsdale (47 Batt.) in the daily papers, I do not know if he has any other relatives nearer than I, as it is some years since I heard anything of the family, but I happen to be a relation, being his father's sister. The Queensland Trustees would probably be able to inform you if he has any nearer relative than I am. I am, Yours faithfully, E. M. James" P9: Report of death of soldier. Note: It looks as though there is an incorrect document on this record at page 20 - an inventory list of Copeland, R. #672 (10th Btn, A.I.F).

    • William (Billy) ELSDALE #4484 in "Don't Forget Me, Cobber: The Battle of Fromelles" by Robin S. Corfield (2009)
    • Posted by untilthedawn, Friday, 29 May 2015

    P89: "In another 13th Bde battalion, the 47th Bn Pte William Elsdale (No. 4484, Qld) was killed in action at Fleurbaix on 7 July [1916]. A full-blood Aboriginal from Queensland he may have well been the first of his people to be killed on the Western Front." P166: "ABORIGINALS AT FROMELLES. Stirred by the knowledge that Pte Billy Elsdale, a full blood Aboriginal, was killed in action at Fleurbaix on 7 July 1916 when serving with 47th Bn (4th Division), a search was made to see if there were any Aboriginals in the 5th Division at Fromelles. A probable candidate is Sgt George McDonald 695, 58th Bn. Born at Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission, Victoria, on 26 November 1890, he enlisted on 11 February 1915 and joined 58th Bn. on 4 April 1916. He survived the battle of Fromelles but as one of the two leaders in a raid on German lines on the night 17/18 September, in front of Fromelles, he was severely wounded and as a result lost a leg. He returned to Australia on 4 May 1917." P351: "RUE DAVID CEMETERY. At Fleurbaix No. 347. About 2 kms south-east of Fleurbaix, it began in Dec. 1914 and was closed Dec. 1917, but greatly enlarged after the Armistice... It is generally accepted that the vast majority of the 266 unidentified Australian graves are from the Battle, likewise a large proportion of unidentified British. Of special interest here is Pte. Billy Elsdale 47th Bn (I.E.4) probably the first Aboriginal digger killed in France, 7 July 1916."