William Edwin Cousens MM

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William Edwin Cousens MM
Cousens William Edwin.jpg
Australia's Fighting Sons of the Empire p. 196
Personal Information
Date of Birth not known
"not known" contains an extrinsic dash or other characters that are invalid for a date interpretation.
Place of Birth Rutherglen, Victoria
Death 20 Dec 1920, aged 34
Place of Death Jarrahdale, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 30 years, 1 month
Description 5'3" (1.60m) tall ; 132 lbs
59.874 kg
; dark complexion ; brown eyes ; dark hair
Occupation Sawyer
Religion Church of England
Address Jarrahdale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Wife , Mrs Amy Elizabeth Cousens
Military Information
Reg Number 2148
Date of Enlistment 13 Feb 1916
Rank Driver
Unit/Formation 51st Battalion, 4th Reinforcement, transferred to 44th Battalion / 11th Brigade, 3rd Division
Date of Embarkation 9 Aug 1916 ‒ 25 Sep 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A28 Miltiades
Date of Return 1 Jun 1919 ‒ 8 Jul 1919
Ship Returned On SS Somali
Fate Returned to Australia
Monument Jarrahdale Honour Roll
ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
Medals Military Medal
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

In 1913 in the Blackwood district, William married Amy Elizabeth Anderson. Electoral Roll entry for 1916 - mill hand at Jarrahdale. Amy was in Cottesloe while William was overseas.

COUSENS. (nee Anderson). On November 7, at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Barker road Subiaco, the wife of Private W.E. Cousens-a son[1]

War Service

On 4 Apr 1916 at Blackboy Hill camp, William was allocated to the 4th reinforcement draft for the 51st Battalion, and he travelled with them to England, leaving Fremantle on 9 Aug 1916 aboard HMAT A28 Miltiades and disembarking on 25 September. In England, on 26 Oct 1916 following short stints in training 13th Training Battalion and in hospital, William was transferred to the 44th Battalion, where a month later on 22 Nov 1916 he was made a Driver. On 25 Nov 1916 William proceeded by train from Lark Hill to Southampton where overnight he and the rest of the 44th Battalion proceeded to Le Havre in France. On 28 Nov 1916 the battalion arrived in Bailleul by train and then marched to their billets in Steenwerck.

William's heroism under heavy artillery bombardment during May 1918 was acknowledged on 8 Jun 1918 when the 3rd Division Routine Orders published his award of the Military Medal. Neville Browning in his book wrote:
"Driver W.E. Cousens drove his limber from the 'B' Echelon lines established at Blangy Tronville through the gas barrage and delivered his load, consisting of rations, to the cooks. Driver Cousens then volunteered to drive a limber through the deadly gas cloud to deliver hot food to the forward ration point, which was through Villers-Bretonneux. He subsequently returned with the cooker and then nonchalantly drove his limber back to the transport lines."[2]
He was granted leave in the UK from 7 - 25 Aug 1918, before rejoining his battalion in France, remaining there until 2 Apr 1919 when he left them for Codford in England, arriving on 7 Apr 1919. His return to Australia followed and he was discharged at the 5th Military District on 23 Aug 1919.

Award Commentary

Military Medal

"On the night 25th/26th May, 1918, whilst the Battalion was holding the line at Villers-Bretonneux, the enemy put down a very heavy mustard gas shell bombardment on the village and the western approaches thereto, firing about 6,000 rounds gas and some H.E. This man, a Transport Driver, drove his limber with rations, through the gas barrage and delivered rations to the cooker. He then took charge of a cooker with hot food, the C.Q.M.S. being a casualty, and drove through the H.E. and gas shelling, of great intensity on the road, and safely delivered the hot food for the troops in the line, at the Forward Ration Point, through the village to the east end. He subsequently returned with the cooker and took his limber to the transport lines. By his coolness in handling mules under very trying circumstances, including the continuous wearing of a gas mask, and devotion to duty, he showed a magnificent disregard for danger and set a splendid example to all."[3]

Post War

COUSENS.-On December 20. 1920, the result of an accident at Jarrahdale, William Edwin, the dearly beloved husband of Amy Elisabeth Cousens, fond father of Dorothy, Frank, and Edith Cousens, son of William Edwin and the late Mary Elizabeth Cousens aged 34 years.

Deeply regretted.

Fatality at Jarrahdale.-A fatal riding accident occurred at Jarrahdale on Sunday (19th). About 10 o'clock in the evening William Edwin Cousens was riding a horse, following closely behind a sulky which was driven by his father. The sulky slowed down, and the next instant Cousens was thrown from his horse and badly injured. It is thought that Cousens was riding at a fair pace, and in the dark struck the vehicle as it slowed down. He was brought to the city yesterday. and conveyed to the Perth Public Hospital in the fire brigade ambulance, but, on arrival life was pronounced extinct. It was stated that he died as the train reached the Central Station. He was a married man, and was 34 years of age. An inquest will be opened today. [4]

Amy remarried soon after in 1921 to George C Pereira at Jarrahdale.


William was buried in the Jarrahdale cemetery.

  1. The West Australian 18 Nov 1916
  2. 'The Westralian Battalion - The Unit History of the 44th Battalion A.I.F., Neville Browning, Advance Press, 2004, page 297
  3. 'Commonwealth Gazette' No 23 dated 12 February 1919.
  4. The West Australian 21 Dec 1920

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