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William Thomas Dartnell (1885 - 1915)

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Lieutenant William Thomas "Wilbur" Dartnell
Born in Collingwood, Victoria, Australiamap
Husband of — married in Queen Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australiamap
Died in Maktau, Kenyamap
Profile last modified
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William was born in 1885, the son of Henry Dartnell and Rose Hanley. [1]

In 1907, William Thomas Dartnell married Elizabeth Edith Smyth.[2]

Dartnell was in South Africa when World War I broke out. He went on to England and on 12 February 1915, using the name Wilbur Taylor Dartnell, joined the 25th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (Frontiersmen), as a temporary lieutenant. As the regimental history notes, this battalion 'included men of various ages and with strange experience from all quarters of the globe'. Raised especially for use against German troops in British East Africa, it was the only British unit sent on active service during the war without preliminary training. The Fusiliers reached Mombasa on 4 May and went at once to their military post on the Uganda railway: their main task was to protect the railway from enemy raiding parties. In June the Fusiliers captured Bukoba, the German base for attacks on the Uganda frontier.

In August the battalion had its headquarters at Voi and two of its companies were stationed at Maktau to patrol the frontier. Dartnell, whose rank had been confirmed on 25 July, was assigned on 1 September to a mounted infantry patrol and two days later, near Maktau, his party was ambushed. In the fighting that followed he was wounded in the leg and was being carried away when he realized that the badly wounded could not be removed. 'Knowing that the enemy's black troops murdered the wounded' he 'insisted on being left behind in the hopes of being able to save the lives of the other wounded men'. Though he was twice asked to leave he ordered his men to abandon him and began firing on the Germans who were within twenty-five yards of his post. When his body was found seven enemy dead lay around it. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for giving his own life in a 'gallant attempt to save others'.

He was buried in Voi cemetery, East Africa. He was survived by his wife and a daughter. At 16 he had served in the South African War with the 5th Victorian (Mounted Rifles) Contingent.[3][4][5]

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  1. Victorian birth registration 1885: 09061,,Dartnell,William Thomas,Henry,Hanley Rose Ann,Collingwood,
  2. Victorian marriage registration 1907: 04239,,Dartnell,William,Smith,Elizabeth Edith,Carlton, 1907: 04239,,Dartnell,William,Smyth,Elizabeth Edith,Carlton,reg(R) 1907: 04239,,Smith,Elizabeth Edith,Dartnell,William,Brunswick,reg(R) 1907: 04239,,Smyth,Elizabeth Edith,Dartnell,William,Brunswick,
  3. Merrilyn Lincoln, 'Dartnell, William Thomas (1885–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 15 March 2018.

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No known carriers of William's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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William is 29 degrees from Robin Helstrom, 33 degrees from Katy Jurado and 18 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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