Lawrence HUFFAM
Rank: Private
Number: 723
Unit: 48th Battalion Australian Imperial Force
Date of Death: 15 August 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

William Huffam and Georgina Welch married in the latter part of 1880 in the Prestwich area. By 1901, they were living in Heaton Norris with their seven children. William was the Company Secretary of an engineering firm. Lawrence was educated at a public school in Buxton and, later, qualified as a mechanical engineer. In 1913, he emigrated to Australia aboard the SS Orsova, disembarking in Fremantle, Western Australia on 25 November.

Lawrence enlisted into the army at Helena Vale, Western Australia on 9 November 1914 and was assigned to "E" Company, 16th Battalion. His service file shows he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 139 pounds. He had brown hair and eyes. Lawrence had recorded his religion as Church of England. He left Melbourne, with the Battalion, on 22 December aboard the transport ship "A40 Ceramic", bound for Egypt.

In April, he went into action at Gallipoli but was only there for three weeks before being evacuated due to illness to hospital in Cairo, rejoining his unit on 17 June. On the 29th, he was back in hospital suffering from pneumonia and, on 8 July, was admitted to No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Ghezireh. He was discharged to a convalescent camp on 5 August and then invalided to England on the 16th aboard the MS Mustba. On the 27th, he was admitted to the King George Hospital, Stamford.

It's not known how long he spent in hospital, but had certainly been discharged by early November. Between 9 November and the middle of January 1916, Lawrence spent three more periods in hospital, including, from 27 November to 13 December, at 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford. This was somewhat of a euphemism as, in fact, Bulford dealt exclusively with cases of venereal disease and the other two stays at Vern Military Hospital were similarly connected. Contracting sexually transmitted diseases was treated as a military offence, as something "self inflicted". By way of punishment, Lawrence found his pay stopped for the period he was at Bulford.

On 25 March, he returned to duty in Egypt and, the following month, was transferred to the 48th Battalion. The Battalion later moved to France and, on 7 August, Lawrence was admitted to 1st Australian Rest Station, suffering with a sprained ankle. He spent three days there.

In late July/early August, the Battalion was involved in attacks around the village of Pozieres , in the heart of the Somme battlefield. After a period of rest, the Battalion went back into the front line on 12 August. There were no major attacks but the men were kept busy improving the defences and repairing shellfire damage to the trenches. The Battalion's Official History notes that they were regularly shelled by enemy artillery and, that on the 14th, it was so heavy the men prepared for a German infantry attack. It was probably on this day that Lawrence received his fatal wounds.

His service file notes that he had received gunshot wounds to the femur and hip (although this tends to be a "shorthand" expression which includes shrapnel wounds). He will have received treatment from the Battalion's own medical officer and was in the process of being evacuated to a field hospital by 13th Australian Field Ambulance when he died. The Ambulance was a significant part of the casualty evacuation chain, which included doctors and basic surgical facilities, as well as the transportation facility that we think of today.

Lawrence was buried by the Rev. Edward Stephens, Anglican chaplain to 2nd Infantry Brigade. His effects were sent to his parents and included his ID disc, spectacles, mirror, metal cigarette case, wallet, photos and letters.

After the War, William and Georgina were living at The Old Rectory, Thorpe, Norwich.

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