ANZAC Centenary 2014-2018: Sharing Victoria's Stories

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WWI Stories – William Alexander Gowdie


John David Gowdie shares the story of William Alexander Gowdie.

William Alexander Gowdie was born in Footscray in 1890.

William-Alexander-GowdieHe spent one-and-a-half years in the Victorian Scottish Regiment, and later joined the Royal Australian Navy for three-and-a-half years.

Gowdie enlisted as a Private in the 5th Battalion on 17th August 1914 when war broke out and sailed with the first contingent of Australians on the HMAT Orvieto.

Gowdie was at Anzac, landing in May 1915, and later disembarked at Alexandria. He was transferred to Serapeum in February 1916, then to the 57th Battalion at Tel el Kebir in Egypt in March 1916. During his time in Egypt he reminded himself of his Shetland heritage with the word “THULE” meaning “far north” scrawled onto his desert digs.

He embarked on the British troopship Transylvania at Alexandria in June 1916 to join the British Expeditionary Force, which disembarked at Marseilles.

In January 1917 Gowdie was hospitalised in the Southwark Military Hospital in England suffering from trench fever. Following his hospital discharge he was transferred to the Overseas Training Brigade before proceeding to France in June 1918 to re-join his unit.

By August 1918 he was promoted to Lance Corporal and finally returning to Australia on special leave in October 1918. He was discharged in February 



In January 1942, Gowdie enlisted in the Australian Military Forces and during World War II was posted to the Base Ordinance Depot in Melbourne. He was promoted to Warrant Officer II, and remained in this position until his honourable discharge in November 1951. He died on 18 August 1958.