The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- William Herbert
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- 'C' Company, No. 12 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Subiaco, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Henry William Beard
- Mothers's Name:
- Florence Eva Beard
- Roman Catholic
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Timber mill worker, Worsley
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 34.
- Selarang Camp Changi
- 'B' Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No. 2 Camp
- Date of Death:
Bill enlisted AIF Aug 1940 later joining 2/4th’s ‘C’ Company 12 Platoon, under Commanding Officer Lt Mick Wedge.
When ‘Aquitania’ anchored off Fremantle on 15 January 1942 for one night to pick up reinforcements and supplies – there was no leave granted but as the 2/4th blokes climbed over the ship side and through the port holes, Bill had initially decided not to leave because he didn’t want to lose his ‘stripes’ – but he was suddenly swept up in the moment’s excitement and he too left ‘Aquitania’. He knew there was no chance to see his family at Worsley so headed for his Aunt’s house in Perth. As luck would have it, guess who was visiting from Worsley – his mother and sister June who had come to Perth because it was school holidays! They had an evening meal together and Bill then made his way back to Fremantle and to his ship. Bill had sworn them to secrecy – they hadn’t seen him – he knew the consequences of disobeying a command would be severe.
Nobody knew their destination and less had any idea what lay ahead of these West Aussies. As time showed, it did not matter – those who survived did not return until end of 1945.
BEARD, Private, WILLIAM HERBERT, WX7883, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 10 July 1945. Age 34. Son of Henry William and Florence Beard, of Worsley, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Bill was the first born son to parents Henry
William Beard and Florence Eva Brown who married Subiaco about 1912. There were an additional four children, Frank, Henry Patrick known as Pat, only daughter June and Desmond. Henry Beard initially worked at the Donnybrook Timber Mills before moving to Worsley where eventually all the Beard boys worked.
The above notice was from Jim Goldie’s family. Jim Goldie died on 4 June 1945 on Sandakan-Ranau march. Don Manning died Kuii Camp, Burma- Thai Railway October 1943 of Avitaminosis at the age of 28 years.
The three men, Goldie, Beard and Manning enlisted in 1940 and were in ‘C’ Coy. Beard and Goldie were in No. 12 Platoon and Manning was in No. 10 Platoon.
Bill was working at Worsley timber mills before enlisting with the AIF. He like so many young men, had little opportunity to meet prospective wives, and as the eldest, worked hard to probably assist their family financially particularly during the 1930’s depression years. When his boss learned Bill had enlisted he wanted to ‘manpower’ him to remain behind and continue working, but Bill wouldn’t agree – he wanted to do his bit for the war.
Bill died Sandakan 10.7.45 malaria aged 34 years. (this was wired section of No. 2 Camp – on ground – no longer their huts). His body was recovered after end of war at Sandakan 3 Cemetery – slit trenches in No. 2 Compound. The burial site for all those who died after 29 May 1945. The POWs were too weak to be able to provide burials (except 23 massacred airfield 13 July 1945 & 75 POWs who left 14 June 1945 on 3rd Sandakan-Ranau March).
Mrs June Edwards (93 years) attends the 2018 Sandakan Service, Boyup Brook. June was just a young girl when her eldest and beloved brother Bill Beard left WA. Bill perished at Sandakan along with his close mate Jim Goldie. June tearfully recalls home visits by Bill and Jim and other friends including ‘Bubbles’ Holme.
Big brother Bill spoiled his younger and only sister.
June continues her membership with the 2/4th MGB ex-Members Assoc.
Above: Seated Right is Bill’s sister June Edwards, her daughter and granddaughter attending 2019 Sandakan Service at Kings Park where they laid flowers in remembrance of Bill Beard who perished at Sandakan 1945.
Bills mother Florence died 25 May 1959 aged 69 years and his father Henry William Beard died 8 September 1975 aged 90 years. Both are buried at Collie Cemetery.
‘West of Collie was Worsley – a thriving timber mill town. The town peaked in 1902 with a population of over 1500, but in the mid 1920s a gradual decline began, which saw the town all but disappear by the mid 1950s. Worsley was also the location of the first railway link to Collie.
In 1984 the area underwent a revival with the construction of the Worsley Alumina refinery. Residents of the area have restored the old Worsley Church and use the church and surrounding picnic area for functions and reunions.’
Heritage listed St Davids Catholic Church was one of two churches at Worsley. Constructed about 1906/07 it was where the Beard family attended church. The old timber Church is one of only two original buildings remaining in the once thriving timber town.
Worsley boasted a two-roomed school for years 1 to 7 and had a doctor resident in the town.
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***