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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

William Joseph Power, 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance

By Marg Powell, Specialist Library Technician, Metadata Services | 11 April 2016

Police Constable, Saddler, Soldier

At left Corporal William Power, 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, at right: Contstable William Power

Studio portraits: At left, Corporal William Power, 1914-1918; at right: Constable William Power, ca. 1908. State Library of Queensland collections.

William Joseph Power, a saddler from Brisbane enlisted just two weeks after Australia's involvement in the First World War was declared. He had previously served as a Police Constable in Ipswich between 1909 & 1914 before resigning to start up his own Saddlery.

His knowledge of horsemanship and policing would be ideally suited to the rigours of army service, and so he embarked aboard HMAT Borda from Brisbane in December 1914 under the command of Major (later Colonel) David Gifford Croll as Saddler Corporal.

Constable William Power on police horse

Constable William Power, mounted on a police horse 1909-1914. Negative number: 169909, State Library of Queensland

When the Light Horse Regiments were mobilized to Gallipoli in May 1915, the Field Ambulance followed, providing support to the men who were entrenched on the Peninsula. Field Ambulance units not only treated by retrieved the dead and wounded from highly vulnerable areas, where they were also exposed to the same conditions and spread of disease as those on the front lines.

In September 1915 then Lance Sergeant Power was evacuated to Egypt with gastritis, enteritis and then influenza and didn't recover sufficiently to rejoin his unit until January 1916.

From Cairo, the Light Horse Regiments served in Palestine and Jordan, but in March 1917 L/Sergeant Power was evacuated to hospital seriously ill, with a thrombosis in his left leg. After surgery and recuperation, he returned to his Regiment but in 1918 he was evacuated to hospital with Sandfly fever, and Malaria, commonly infecting those who were fighting in the Jordan Valley.

Corporal William Power, 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance

Corporal William Power, Second Light Horse Field Ambulance. Negative number: 169581, State Library of Queensland.

William Power returned to Australia and his family in 1919 but his leg constantly troubled him. He was able to find temporary employment labouring and farming, but he turned to his brother-in-law Tom Page to help him out. He resided with Tom and Will's sister Jean, in Burleigh Heads until he could no longer support himself.

In 1931 William Power applied for medical assistance to the Commonwealth Department of Repatriation. His leg had continued to cause him pain and severely limited his ability to undertake employment.

"When I walk the leg swells from the knee to the ankle. It has now broken out on the shin and I cannot get it to heal. It has been in this condition for last four years."

"He used to give me a hand sometimes in the bar and elsewhere about the hotel premises. His leg has always been a source of worry to him, otherwise his health has been quite satisfactory; latterly his leg has become so hurtful that he could not bear to stand on it and he was incapable of performing any work whatsoever."

William Power reapplied to serve his country during the Second World War, where he served with the 1st Australian Garrison Battalion, from 1939-1945. After his retirement from his position he resided in Tingalpa, Queensland until his death in 1956.

William Power's photographs, along with those of his brother-in-law Hugh Griffith were located in the State Library of Queensland's digitised collection, during the library's QANZAC 100 project.

Further reading:



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