Remembrance Day: The Popplewell brothers
William Popplewell brought his young family to a ‘homestead selection’ in
Bangor in about 1899 comprising nine hectares of thick bush and trees with sons
William (Jr.) and John assisting their father to clear the land.
John (Jack) was 18 when he enlisted. He joined the 3rd Battalion in August 1915
on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the day after an attack had been launched from Anzac
Cove to take the Turkish-held post on Lone Pine Ridge. The attack over five days
resulted in the capture of Lone Pine but at a cost of more than 2,000 lives. Jack
was killed sometime between 7 and 12 August and for almost a year, his family
knew only that he was missing in action. According to witnesses, he was shot
and had fallen into a trench. Jack and others were buried where they had fallen.
William was 21 years old when he enlisted, three weeks after his younger
brother Jack and would not have known that Jack had been reported missing.
The Battalion arrived at Anzac Cove in November 1915 and with winter setting
in, many fell ill with Will suffering from enteric fever. He was sent home ‘for
three months change’ and later re-joined his old unit on the Somme. On 5 May
1917, Will suffered a chest contusion when the earth around him erupted, and
he was buried, after a shell exploded nearby.
Will was promoted to Sergeant and while attached to the US Army for a week,
was captured by the Germans when someone gave away their location by
lighting up a small fuel stove at night. He was released when the Germans
were overrun and stayed in England, returning to Australia in 1920 with his
bride Marie. The couple raised their family in Sans Souci and Will passed away