A century on from the end of World War I we acknowledge their service …
Lest we forget.
Private William Robert Comb
Born: 21 May 1892 Corack East. Killed in action: 31 July 1916 near Fromelles.
Enlisted: 14 July 1915 aged 25
Served: Egypt, Western Front
William was the only son of blacksmith Alexander and Helen Comb, who lived in Pakenham Upper for a time.
He served an apprenticeship as a “blacksmith’s striker” at Warburton before taking up horticulture at Merbein near Mildura where his parents had moved.
In June 1916, William was sent to France with Australian forces joining the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on the Western Front.
While in the trenches, he wrote to his mother telling her “not to fret” and reassuring her that “if the call comes, I am ready”.
Tragically, that call came on 31 July, 1916, when William was killed by a German sniper at Fleurbaix, near Fromelles.
In reporting his death, the Donald Times quoted a patriotic poem about paying the price for liberty and freedom on the “altar of sacrifice” “somewhere in sunny France”.
His death was reported by the Mildura Cultivator, which published his portrait and an in-memoriam notice from his family which read in part: “Far away from those who loved him. Soldiers gently laid him to rest; In a hero’s grave he is sleeping. One of Australia’s best”.
This is an extract from Patrick Ferry’s book A Century After The Guns Fell Silent – Remembering the Pakenham District’s WWI Diggers 1914-18.
For more details on this and other profiles in the book, head to the website www.pakenhamww1.com