Indigenous Australian, Billy (William) RICHARDS, 41st Infantry Battalion.
Private Billy Richards, was born at Torrens Creek, Qld in 1889. Age 28, he was working as a station hand when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in May 1917. Not knowing of any surviving relatives, he named his next of kin to be Lil Smith, a friend who lived in Charters Towers.
Having enlisted in Townsville, he travelled to the Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera outside Brisbane, where he was initially assigned to the Light Horse. However as men were desperately needed in Europe he was later allocated to the 8th Reinforcements for the 41st Infantry Battalion.
Richards embarked from Sydney on board the troopship Horata in June 1917 arriving in Liverpool in 8 weeks later. Richards contracted mumps on the voyage and was admitted to Parkhouse military hospital soon after landing. By January 1918 Richards was fit enough to join his Battalion and embarked for France where the 41st was operating out of Houplines.
Richards was wounded in action in August 1918, a piece of shrapnel pierced a finger on his left hand. This time he was evacuated to the War Hospital at Stratford-on-Avon. After treatment, recuperation and leave he was returned to his unit in the field until the end of the war.
Whilst waiting to return home, Richards was apprehended at Codford, trying to gain entry into the Sergeants Mess and was punished by being confined to barracks for 21 days and forfeiting pay in lieu of damages caused.
Private Richards finally returned home in September 1919, where he returned to work in north western Queensland; he died in Winton in November 1956.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: RICHARDS, Billy
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 8th Reinf. 41st Infantry Battalion
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland