William Aubrey Collyer

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COLLYER, William Aubrey

Service no: 4752 [1]

Place of birth: Wongarbon, 1896

Address: Wongarbon

Occupation: Butcher

Next of kin: Thomas William Collyer (father), Wongarbon

Date of enlistment: 24 October 1915

Place of enlistment: Orange

Age at enlistment: 19

Fate: Embarked HMAT A15 Star Of England, Sydney, 8 March 1916. Disembarked Egypt 11 April 1916. Transferred to 4th Artillery Tel-el-Kebir 14 April 1916. Transferred to Artillery Training Depot Tel-el-Kebir 25 May 1916. Embarked Alexandria 28 May 1916. Disembarked Plymouth 12 June 1916. Proceeded to France 9 August 1916. Promoted to Driver 14 October 1916. Rank reverted to Gunner 9 March 1917. Proceeded to England on leave 29 November 1917. Joined No 1 Command Depot, Sutton Veny, England, 2 April 1918. Joined Overseas Training Brigade, Longbridge Deverill, England, 24 May 1918. Joined the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery, Heytesbury, England, 7 June 1918. Joined the Australian General Base Depot, Le Havre, France, 4 July 1918. Embarked Port Napier, England, for return to Australia 12 May 1919. Discharged from AIF 19 August 1919.

Date of death: 20 August 1937, Lismore Base Hospital, aged 41

Buried: East Lismore Cemetery

William Aubrey Collyer was born in Wongarbon in 1896, the first of five children born to Thomas William Collyer and his wife Flora Jane (nee Dewar).

William was working as a butcher in Wongarbon when WWI was declared. The 19 year old was one of twenty men who joined the Coo-ees when they arrived in Orange on Saturday, 23 October 1915.

Conceived by Captain “Bill” Hitchen of Gilgandra, the Coo-ee March was a recruitment drive in response to dwindling enlistments following the heavy casualties sustained on the Gallipoli Peninsula and in the trenches of France. On 10 October 1915 Hitchen left Gilgandra with 25 men to march the 515km to Sydney, collecting recruits along the way. A total of 264 recruits reached Martin Place in Sydney at noon on Friday 12 November, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Billy Hughes and a crowd of 100,000 people.

William proceeded to Liverpool camp for training, embarking with his fellow coo-ees on the Star of England from Sydney on 8 March 1916. William served in France and England as a Private in the 13th Battalion, 15th Reinforcements, later as a Driver and then Gunner.

In May 1919 William embarked from England to return to Australia. He settled in the Richmond River district and, in 1922, married Jessie Martha McDonough. The couple had seven children. William worked as a stock inspector for the NSW Tick Department for many years, until he was forced to resign due to ill-health as a result of his war service.

William Aubrey Collyer died in Lismore Base Hospital on 20 August 1937. He was afforded a military funeral by the Lismore branch of the Returned Soldiers' League, with returned soldiers forming a guard of honour at St Andrew’s Church of England and East Lismore Cemetery.

William is commemorated on the Wongarbon Soldiers' Memorial and the Wellington Cenotaph in Cameron Park, Wellington.

Northern Star, 21 August 1937, p. 8.

Obituary – Mr WA Collyer [2]

Northern Star, 23 August 1937, p. 5.

Mr WA Collyer [3]

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