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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

W.F Lindsay, M.C, E.D



William Frederic Lindsay was born on December 27th, 1880 in Unanderra, New South Wales to George and Eliza Lindsay [Nee Cochrane] and was the eldest of 12 children. He lived in Unanderra with his family and then married Alice Selina Spence [1877-1960] on October 27th, 1903 in Wollongong, New South Wales. The couple would have three children, two males and a female. Both of the sons served in the Second World War, one of them would win a Military Cross in Greece and the other would be on a gun emplacement in Sydney. On September 18th, 1906, William Lindsay was 'installed' as a Masonic Officer at the Lithgow Lodge.


In early 1914, William was commissioned as a subaltern in the 41st Infantry, which guarded the Lithgow factory at the outbreak of the war. 

William Lindsay, 41st Infantry in circa 1914

Lieutenant Lindsay, 41st Infantry was still home by 1915, yet he was busy. Newspapers had a frenzy with this 'officer of the most imposing type'. On December 22nd, 1915 Lieutenant Lindsay was a member of a failed recruitment - one man did volunteer though he had been turned down prior to then. On January 18th, 1916 Lieutenant Lindsay led a recruitment march from Lithgow to Bathurst, a distance of 62km! Lindsay was commended by all for behaving splendidly and maintaining discipline. Needless to say, he was vital to the recruiting effort in the Lithgow area.

Lindsay enlisted into the A.I.F on March 16th, 1916 and soon after became the Officer Commanding 6th Reinforcements for the 53rd Battalion. The other officer in the reinforcements was one Honorary Lieutenant A.H Pettifer, a young clerk from Annandale, New South Wales. During the time of his training, his Battalion was ripped to pieces at Fromelles by suffering just under 200 killed, including the Battalion's Commanding Officer. After just under 7 months from enlisting, he and his reinforcements would embark from Sydney on October 7th, 1916. He and the reinforcements disembarked at Plymouth on November 21st. By time he arrived in England, he was a Lieutenant.
6th Reinforcements, 53rd Battalion. Lieutenant Lindsay is the tall officer with the dual Sam Browne belt.
Lindsay, on embarkation

His brother was Acting Sergeant George Lindsay, who embarked with the 7th Reinforcements [53rd Battalion] on October 26th, later commissioned and served in France. William was in England for 3 months until he proceeded to France on February 2nd, 1917. He arrived at Etaples on the same day, and remained there for 4 days before proceeding to join the 53rd Battalion. He was taken onto strength two days later on the 8th. Lindsay sent a letter home, it reads..
"On the night of the 16th I was detailed to take out my first patrol. I went out about midnight to some old gun pits well in front of our line and there found two other patrols; all of us under a Captain."
"After trying to find out information in the usual way, we were all sent out in turn to make a diversion. I, was the last sent out. I had orders to do a certain thing which I accomplished with my heart in my mouth. I was then ordered to push into the enemy trench, so I started off feeling very scared, but luckily for me the Germans went out as we came in, and we had the satisfaction of capturing the trench we had been pounding at all winter."
"I found out afterwards that the other two patrols had got in about half an hour before me. I had charge of that portion of the trench for a few hours till my Coy. Commander came up with reinforcements and took over, when the Battalion advanced about a mile."
"We were relieved that night, and the next day I was sent back in charge of our Details Camp for a rest, much to my satisfaction, as I had had a rather strenuous time continuously ever since I joined up. I stayed there about a fortnight and was then sent to a Lewis Gun School at Le Touquet - Near Etaples"
"During the time at I was away we made a further advance and had some scrapping, during which poor Harry [Stuart] Fair was killed. I had a good time at the School, and thinking I had no chance of the job did not work too hard. Judge of my surprise on coming back to find that our Lewis Gun Officer was going to the Training Battallion[sic], and that I was detailed in his place."
"On joining up from the School, I found the Battalion at Bancourt out for a spell-as we thought for a few months. We occupied the mornings at training and most of the afternoons at sports-football, etc; and had Battalion sports for prizes on ANZAC Day"
"Later on we had Brigade sports for running events, etc; and another day for a Horse Show, both very successful."
"However, we were done out of our spell. I had got leave for Amiens, and had got far as Albert. I got to bed in the Officer's Rest Hut, thinking to catch the first train in the morning. An orderly came along with a horse, and woke me up to tell me to report back at once, as we were moving up the line first thing in the morning."
"We were under the impression that we were only going up in Support for a few days, but came in for the hottest 18 days I ever wish to have. I can't say anything much about it just now. However, we are now under canvas near our old friend Le Transloy, and making our second attempt at a spell. If all goes well we are to go back further in a few days. We are having a lazy time at present, organising and refitting, and I personally haven't done anything yet."
"I forgot to mention that one of the rotten things we had last time was 5 hours with our gas respirators on. It wasn't a regular gas cloud attack, but they sent over thousands of gas shells to make it pretty uncomfortable for us, especially as we hadn't had much sleep for some nights and were worn out. However, very little damage was done, as we had taken due precautions."
"The other day, Lieutenant Lang, MC (one of my patrol leaders on March 17th), and myself, went for a walk over the old ground and found it very interesting. The country is looking beautiful now, and it is very strange to go over country you have left barren, desolate and a quagmire of mud, to find grass above our ankles and a profusion of buttercups and other wild flowers. The trees too and hedges are out in beautiful green leaf, and everything behind the line, except for ruined villages, looks too beautiful and pretty for war. How I wish it were over and that we could get back to dear old Australia again."
"We had an open air concert last night, and it was great one on the grass and listen to the performers. It is quite light here till 10pm; and quite warm. Climatic conditions are perfect just now. This afternoon we had boxing contests, which are to be continued tonight."
"I have put in for 7 days leave to Paris. It is impossible to get any English leave for some time, and anyways I would hate to say I'd been in France and hadn't seen Paris"
"I received a letter from George(Brother) today, saying he had joined the 61st Battalion. He hadn't heard from home for some time."

He was with the Battalion until April 2nd when he went to a Lewis Gun School, arriving back at his unit on the 21st. A month and a bit afterwards, he went on leave in Paris on June 5th for five days. He was promoted to Captain on July 3rd.

Captain Lindsay on leave, late 1917

Lindsay went to No.2 Army Central School on August 12th, and returned on September 15th. Lindsay was present at Polygon Wood when his Battalion attacked, and during which Lieutenant Colonel Croshaw (then Battalion Commander) was mortally wounded by a shell. Following Polygon Wood, Lindsay was then was seconded to the 1st ANZAC Corps Infantry School on October 10th as an instructor. This would last for two months, only ceasing when he went on leave in England on December 22nd. He arrived back at Battalion on January 5th, 1918. On February 17th, he went to the Australian Corps Gas School, arriving back on the 23rd. On March 22nd, he then went to the 2nd Army Musketry School, arriving back after five days. On April 9th, he was attached to duty with the 174th Brigade Headquarters as a Liaison Officer. He was with the Brigade until May 3rd. On July 14th, 1918 his brother, 2962 Trooper Thomas Francis Lindsay was killed in action in Palestine after storming a trench, during which he was shot through the heart, killed instantaneous.
His late brother, Trooper Linsday
On July 15th, he went to the Australian Flying Corps Liaison Instruction Course, returning back at Battalion three days following. A soldier's diary entry from around July 1918 has mention of Captain Lindsay..
At the last we got word of a stunt to be done by "D" Coy. and I was picked to go as a bit of a rough interpreter. My report then arrived from Division and as it was a good one the I.O. wanted to get me on HQ, and Captain Lindsay wanted to keep me in the Coy. The latter suited me and I did all I could to stay there, but it got to the Colonel eventually and I had no say in the matter. It meant the finish of me for the stunt which pleased Mr Hill more than it did myself.
Private J.I Marshall, 53rd Btn.

Lindsay was recommended for a Military Cross for his actions on July 29th, 1918 at Morlancourt when he led 2 platoons through Artillery and Machine Gun fire. He then captured an enemy trench, losing one man in the entire action

On August 8th, 1918 his Battalion was slightly involved in the advances which took place around then, but they still advanced from somewhere near Villers Bretonneux to Bayonvillers where they consolidated. During this advance, a shell landed under Captain Lindsay's horse which was being ridden by him at the time. The shell exploded and 'evaporated' the horse leaving two injured but left Lindsay unscathed. He was then involved on the September 1st attack on Peronne, during which he was wounded. He was commanding 'D' Company in the 53rd Battalion and led his Company [probably] until Major Murray [M.C] ordered him to take up a position on an unprotected flank. During this, he suffered a gunshot in the left leg and a fractured tibia. His second in command, Lieutenant William Waite [M.C] took over the Company and led it onwards to success, winning himself a Bar to his Military Cross.

During the attack on the Peronne, he was recommended for the Military Cross.. the citation reads..

During the attack on Peronne on 1st September, 1918, when the advance of the flank of the battalion was delayed by very intense machine-gun fire, he got his company into position in the open, and bringing well-aimed fire to bear, dispersed the enemy with peculiarly important losses, and the advance proceeded. His gallantry and judgement were conspicuous, and his opportune and skillful action greatly contributed to the success of the battalion. 
His Military Cross appeared in the Gazette on February 1st, 1919 on page 1731 at position 3.


He was sent to England on September 5th, below is a photo whilst he was recuperating.
He was transferred to the ships hospital on January 28th, and discharged from hospital on January 31st, 1919. An anomaly appears on his return to Australia as it says he embarked on January 25th, 1919 which is 3 days before transferring to the ships hospital. Either way, he arrived on March 14th, 1919. Captain W.F Lindsay's commission was terminated on May 1st, 1919 at 2nd M.D after 3 years in the service. Shortly after his discharge, he rejoined the Militia as an Honorary Captain on September 16th, 1919 in the 5/20th Battalion. He was promoted to Captain on March 31st, 1921 and a year later, transferred to the Reserve of Officers exactly a year later, coinciding with his move to Portland, Sydney. After six years in the Reserve, he went to the 53rd Battalion on May 1st, 1928, then a Staff Officer at the 2nd Division on July 1st, 1930 to March 31st, 1932. In 1931, he helped his son, John George Lindsay to obtain a commission in the 53rd Battalion which was then commanded by Lindsay's old comrade from Peronne - Lieutenant Colonel J.J Murray DSO, MC. Upon the end of his time with the 2nd Division, he was promoted to Major with the 55th Battalion. He transferred to the 20/54th Battalion on June 13th, 1933 and was appointed the Temporary Commanding Officer just a few weeks later. On February 1st, 1934 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 20/54th Battalion. Lindsay was awarded the Efficiency Decoration on May 31st, 1937. Just under two weeks later, he was down at Admiralty House in Sydney to receive the decoration from Governor General Lord Gowrie. 
Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay, M.C, E.D, 1937 at Admiralty House.
A mere few months after receiving his decoration, Lindsay resigned his commission and was placed on the Regimental Reserve. His health was noticeably deteriorating, and at 57, it started taking a toll. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was offered a Military Command in the Second Australian Imperial Force but was declined on grounds of ill-health. From there, his health declined more. During this time, one of his sons, John George Lindsay [1908-1975] had enlisted as a Lieutenant in the 2/4th Battalion with the influence of his father. William was taken seriously ill five weeks after the ANZAC Day March in 1940. William Frederic Lindsay died at home on June 11th, 1940 at 208 Wentworth Road, Burwood, Sydney.
Lindsay [left] in the ANZAC Day March 1939/40, leading veterans of the 53rd in Sydney.

William Frederic Lindsay's medals
Military Cross, British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1937 Coronation Medal, Efficiency Decoration
Lindsay's Silver

A special thanks must go out to Kimberley John Lindsay, who has given me permission to use these photos of his late grandfather as well as supplying information.

Edited by tankengine888
More information has come to light since writing the article


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Kimberley John Lindsay

Posted (edited)

Dear Zidane,

Super job!

I have  read it all through, and 'Military Cross in Palestine' is wrong (Dad's MC was for Greece and Crete).

Lord Gowie, the Governor-General of Australia, awarded Lt-Col W. F. Lindsay his Efficiency Decoration (ED). The 1937 Coronation Medal GVIR arrived later.

Also for Kim Lindsay, I always prefer Kimberley John Lindsay.

Perhaps you could amend these points?

Kindest regards,


Edited by Kimberley John Lindsay
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