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William Henry Dudley


23rd November 1877 - 23rd August 1923

William Henry DUDLEY, known as Bill, was born in Columbula, Condamine, Queensland on 23 Nov 1877. William was the 3rd of the 10 children born to James Robert and Catherine DUDLEY.

 In 1897 William Henry DUDLEY married Elizabeth Ann KENDALL in Cunnamulla Queensland. They lived for a short period with his mother Catherine DUDLEY in Chinchilla, before relocating back to Cunnamulla. Elizabeth Ann KENDALL had a son, Alfred Clarence, born before her marriage to William, who was not the father. William Henry and Elizabeth Ann DUDLEY had ten children; however 4 males and 2 females died in infancy.

William was a tall, spare man of over 6ft, with dark hair and dark complexion, with high cheek bones. He was bald in his later years. He was a superb horseman, his occupations are listed as drover and fencer. He could not read or write until he taught himself. He could never write very well, but was a competent reader; he was helped in his studies by the wife of the station owner or manager who supplied him with books. William was said to be very ambitious, as was his sister Elena (Aunty Nan).

 When William was born, so the family legend goes, his grandparents, James and Martha DUDLEY, wanted the boy sent over to them in America to be reared and educated, but his parents, James Robert and Catherine DUDLEY would not allow it. It was said that William was always bitter about this in later life.

 William enlisted in the Army in August 1915, at the age of 37, leaving his wife Elizabeth at home with the children, including the 5 month old Philip Henry DUDLEY.

 3731 Private William Henry DUDLEY, was first allocated to the 9th Battalion AIF, but soon after was re-allocated to the 49th Battalion and sent to France. He was involved in the battle of Messines on 7th June 1917 and was wounded in the chest and shoulder by shrapnel on Hill 60.

 The details surrounding William's wounding, is that he was on lookout duties, however when it came time for him to be relieved; he was asked to wait on while his mate finished his billy of tea. Sticking his head out of the trench to have a look, he was hit in the chest by shrapnel, some of which could never be removed. Shortly after this the troops withdrew, leaving the casualties behind. When the medics came through a short time later, one apparently turned William over and said, "Looks like this one's dead." William opened his eyes and said, "Fair go, mate, I've got a wife and children at home."

 Following this he was evacuated to a medical clearing station and then spent some months in hospital in France. He was then further evacuated to Bristol England where he met the Nurse. It's said that she agreed to come to Australia to marry him. He returned to Australia in January 1918 and was discharged from the Army in April of the same year. After he was sent home, his wife Elizabeth intercepted some letters from the nurse and promptly settled matters.

 After the war William had a fencing business, but could not work very much because of his wounds. It is said he was not able to lift his left arm above the shoulder. He was offered a Government pension of five shillings a week, which he refused in disgust.

 Sometime in 1923 William was admitted to the Isisford hospital, suffering from blood poisoning as a result of an infected liver. He was to die in agony from this on 23rd August 1923 and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Isisford cemetery.   

 Whilst he was in hospital, his wife Elizabeth visited him every day, going home each day to prepare the children's lunch. One morning William told her of a dream he had had the night before. "I dreamed you went home to feed the kids, Liz," he said "and when you came back, I was dead."

 She went home as usual to get the lunch, and when she devotedly went back to the hospital, William was DEAD.

 Elizabeth Ann DUDLEY was a capable woman, hard working and much admired by everyone who knew her. When her husband William Henry DUDLEY was serving overseas in the Army, she worked in her father's pub as a laundress to help support the family. She was tall and pretty, quite stout in later years and always wore white starched dresses, petticoats and aprons, all made by hand. She was a skilled needlewoman especially crochet, making curtains, laces and bedspreads. When she died in Brisbane, in 1944 at the age of 65 from a stroke, she had a set of perfect teeth. She is buried in the Toowong Cemetery.

 Elizabeth Anne DUDLEY's parents were William Ashford KENDALL and Elizabeth Anne DODD. They were of Scottish origins and immigrated to Australia in the 1800's, they were the owners of Campbell's Pub in Cunnamulla. There were four other children, William, Jenny, Bella and another daughter who married a German named VON SINDEN.

 After William KENDALL died, Elizabeth Ann DUDLEY married William Patrick BACKOUS at Blackall in 1942 when she was 62. They had a son who had downs syndrome. For some reason, mother and daughters became estranged in later years, refusing to acknowledge each other when meeting in the street.

 William Patrick BACKOUS was a dark haired bespeckled man with a moustache. He was a shearers' cook, who was highly respected by the family. They lived in Toowoomba where Elizabeth Ann BACKOUS (DUDLEY nee KENDALL) became a covert to Catholicism. William Patrick BACKOUS died in Toowoomba in June 1943.





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