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Sjt. Harold John Williams

Australian Imperial Force 9th Australian Field Ambulance

from:Woollahra, Sydney, New South Wales.

Harold Williams attended Woollahra Superior Public School, leaving at the age of 14,. He worked as a messenger-boy, then as a railway stores clerk. He sang with the Waverley Methodist Church choir as a boy soprano and was later an amateur baritone, he enjoyed football and cricket, playing for Waverley Cricket Club (1906–15) and finding success in Rugby Union as a wing-three-quarter with the Eastern Suburbs team, representing New South Wales against New Zealand in August 1914.

Harold enlisted on the 24th of July 1915 and travelled to England aboard the troop transport ship Argyllshire in May 1916, as a corporal with the 9th Field Ambulance. During the voyage he entertained his fellow soldiers with his ballads. After training in England, he was promoted to sergeant and proceeded to France with his unit in November 1916, seeing action at Armentières during the harsh winter. In January 1917, he was transferred at General William Birdwood's request to an entertainment unit, known as the 'Anzac Coves'.

Harold rejoined the 9th Field Ambulance in March, saw action at Messines and Passchendaele. He was appointed regimental quartermaster-sergeant.

Whilst on leave in England, Williams sang at a private party at Sheffield in 1918 and was heard by several musical luminaries who insisted that he should begin voice lessons.

In August he transferred to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, where he met Dorothy Mason, a staff nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service, who he would marry in May 1919.

After the Armistice Harold was attached A.I.F. Headquarters in London and studied singing with Charles Phillips. Demobilised from the army in July, he remained in London and found a civilian job as secretary to the Stearn Electric Lamp Company. Later he went on to a long and successful career in England and his native country, performing in opera, oratorio and concerts and giving radio broadcasts.

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