Local Anzac from Mowbraytown.

The story of William Packman, a young resident of Mowbraytown. An ANZAC who fought and died for Australia in WW1.

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This Anzac story provides a small insight to the life of a local man who served Australia and died at a young age on a battlefield in France during World War 1.

William Lumsden Packman was born 31/1/1895. One of a family with 5 other children that emigrated and arrived in Queensland during 1911. 

Williams parents Thomas and Ellen Packman came to Australia from Glasgow in Scotland. Thomas Packman, William's father, was a carpenter by trade, his son William worked alongside him as an apprentice.  

Thomas was also a Lay preacher in Brisbane and was held in high esteem by the congregation of the Mowbraytown Presbyterian Church in East Brisbane. The ornate honour roll that is still in place at the church building today lays testament to the sorrow of the community surrounding the loss of Thomas' son, William in 1916. 

William died from wounds received on a battlefield in France at the age of 21. By the end of this one battle in 1916, more than 12,500 Australian servicemen had lost their lives. This part of World War 1 is known as the Battle of the Somme. It took place in an area of France known at that time as the Western Front, about 250 klm from Paris.

The Great War war that began in 1914 followed the assassination of the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, Archduke  Franz Ferdinand. This sparked a confrontation that initially involved German forces opposing the Russian military machine. Due to various diplomatic alliances with each of these countries many other countries were to become slowly embroiled. This war would have a long term and far reaching effect around the entire world. 

The Allied countries that were drawn into hostilities included Serbia, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Belgium, France, Britain, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, South Africa, United States, Japan and Italy.

The opposing countries known as the central powers included Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey.

When called to serve there was no shortage of willing Australians that volunteered. There was a high level of patriotism amongst the youthful Australians and also a sense of adventure prevailed.

William enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on the 24/9/1915 to serve in the 12th Battery, 4th Field Artillery Brigade. He was 20 years of age.

In November of that year his brigade sailed to Egypt, where it joined the 2nd Division and the more experienced men that had survived the Gallipoli campaign.  In March 1916 the brigade embarked at Alexandria for France, as the Australian war effort moved from Gallipoli to the Western Front.
Arriving at the port of Marseilles, the brigade travelled 800 kilometres North by train to Le Havre. They then continued by road hauling their 18-pounder guns to Armentieres, near the French–Belgium border, arriving on the 8th of April, 1916. The 2nd Division’s, and the 4th Field Brigade was now involved in the battle of the Somme. The Somme offensive was partly designed to relieve the pressure on the French at Verdun. The 4th artillery brigade was deployed near Pozières, in late July, 1916, where the brigade was involved in constant and bloody action against the German forces.
A serviceman wrote: "In July and August 1916 the whole area was alive with activity. Supply wagons were constantly moving up ‘Sausage Valley,’ bivouacs and camping areas lined the valley slopes and everywhere there were the guns of the field artillery blasting away at the enemy. Down the valley came a flood of wounded, either in horse–drawn field ambulances from the collecting post at ‘Casualty Corner’ or struggling along as best they could, others to be buried where they fell."
As the harsh French winter of 1916 began to set in, the brigade experienced its first gas attacks. 
The taking of a nearby village, Flers by British and New Zealand forces at huge loss was partly accomplished with a new weapon, the British tank. In late October 1916, as the Australian divisions returned to the Flers area, they could see the ruins of these strange metallic monsters of the battlefield, in some cases with the crew still lying dead in their machines. But the Flers fighting achieved little and it was conducted in appalling conditions. So bad was the going across the devastated landscape between Longueval and Flers that the first Australian units to get to the front, a distance of only eight kilometres, took up to 12 hours. Further torrential rain just made the going worse.
Some diary notes of the time relate:
 …' men and beasts would flounder and struggle through the shelled and broken country. Sometimes a horse would slide into a shell hole full of mud and water, sometimes it was impossible for the poor beast to scramble out, and the animal would only bog himself more if he struggled. Sometimes other horses and mules would be used to haul him out, but often a horse would sink until only his head and poor imploring eyes would be showing above the morass. A merciful bullet was then the only kindness.'  
.....'Then there is one of those rare lulls in the cannonade, and quite distinctly we make out some of our comrades struggling in the ruins of a wrecked dugout.  We rush to their aid, heedless of the shells bursting around us.  Another of those deadly beasts strikes almost at our feet, but luckily it does not explode.  We don't stop, we rush on, we shout to our friends, who are buried under the earth, stones, and timber, and we set to work digging them out. "Nobody is seriously hurt," they cry joyously, when we drag them, covered with scratches and contusions, to daylight again.  We do not always fare so well as this.  Sometimes we dig them from cellars and earthworks as corpses, sometimes fearfully mutilated, or just in time to draw their last breath.'
At this time German aircraft were also in command of the sky and along with German ground forces the Australian Artillery was under constant bombardment.
In August 1916, with the Australian casualty list spiralling,  William was promoted to Lieutenant. 
On the 15th of November 1916, William Lumsden Packman was severely wounded by a German shell at Flers, he was taken to a field ambulance in the vicinity of Montauban where he died the same day from his wounds. His gravesite is located at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery, 6 miles east of Albert, France. He was aged 21yrs
His death took place just three days before the official end of the battle of the Somme. Nature had prevailed on this occasion. The French winter of 1916 created such severe conditions that this battle concluded in a stalemate. 
There was, however, to be a further 2 years of warfare and Australian blood spilt.
More than 58,000 Australian servicemen were killed during this first World War that finally ended in 1918. A much higher number of service men and women returned home wounded and sick. In a country of just 5 million people, at the time, it touched most Australian families. A long period of grief and hardship was a common result.