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3575 Sapper William Broadfoot Drummond
Australian Engineers
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis, 2000.

1. Early Life

William Broadfoot Drummond was born in Stirling, Scotland in August of 1883. Stirling is a county town and old royal burgh located in central Scotland and is the home of the famous Scottish regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The regimental museum of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is located in Stirling Castle to this day.

William’s parents were Robert Drummond and Alexis Drummond of 24 Victoria Square, Stirling. At the time of William’s birth, the Drummonds had four other children: Robert (11 years), John B. (10 years), Alexis M. (8 years), Isobel T. (5 years), and Gregor (3 years). The 1881 British Census shows that two adults also resided in the Drummond household: Isabella Mc Pherson (24 years) and Margaret Dawson (19 years). The relationship of these two women to the Drummonds is not known, although they may have been servants. The 1881 Census data also shows that all of William’s siblings and his parents were born in Glasgow.

As a young man, Drummond worked as a carpenter and was an Apprentice to J. & G. Findlay of Glasgow, Scotland from 1901 to 1906. It appears that the Drummond family moved to Glasgow sometime before William left the United Kingdom to live in Australia. His mother remained behind in Scotland and was residing at 50 Kelvingrove Street in Glasgow in 1916 when William joined the Australian Army for service in the Great War of 1914 to 1918. The Drummonds were members of the Presbyterian Church.

2. Enlistment

Drummond was recruited for service in the Australian Army on the 3rd of November 1916. At the time he was living in the coastal town of Tweed Heads in the northwest corner of New South Wales, to the south of Gold Coast and Southport, Queensland.

On the day of his recruitment he reported to Casino Camp in New South Wales where he was given a medical examination prior to his attestation. His examining officer was Captain J.G. Lentaigne of the Australian Army Medical Corps. According to Captain Lentaigne, Drummond was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 11 stone and 4 pounds (158 pounds) [1]. He had blue eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion. His chest measurements were 35 inches normal and 38 inches expanded. Drummond was noted to have good physical development and a pulse rate of 80 beats per minute. He had no evidence of a previous vaccination mark for smallpox. Drummond’s teeth were noted to require treatment, however he was declared "dentally fit." After this examination, Captain Lentaigne declared Drummond to be fit for military service despite the fact that he had a fairly serious speech impediment that caused him to stammer.

Drummond was enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) for service abroad on the 4th of November 1916. The enlistment also took place at Casino Camp. The officer administering the oath of attestation to Drummond was a Lieutenant L.B. Osborne. Drummond was 33 years and 3 months old at the time of his enlistment. His service papers indicate that at the time of his enlistment he was not married and had no previous military service. As a matter of fact, he had been previously rejected for military service because of his stammering. This may explain why he was over 33 years old at the time of his enlistment. It appears that the vast number of soldiers needed to fill the ranks for the Great War was reason enough for the military authorities to overlook Drummond’s previously disqualifying disability.

Following his attestation, Private Drummond was assigned to the 11th Depot Battalion. On the 28th of November he received his first inoculation (type unknown), probably in preparation for his deployment overseas. A second unknown inoculation was administered to him on the 5th of December and he received two vaccinations (probably smallpox), one on the 12th of December and the second on the 19th of December.

3. Service in England

Private Drummond was assigned to the 9th Reinforcement for the 4th Pioneer Battalion (9/4th Pioneers) at Enoggera in New South Wales on the 30th of December 1916. His attestation was given final certification by the Commanding Officer of 9/4th Pioneers at Enoggera on the 22nd of January 1917. On the 24th of January 1917, 9/4th Pioneers embarked at Sydney aboard H.M.A.T. Ayshire [2] bound for England. The unit disembarked at Devonport, Devonshire on the 12th of April 1917 and immediately marched in to the Pioneer Training Battalion at Fovant in Wiltshire, near Wilton, to the northwest of Southampton. On the following day Drummond was given a TAB injection.

Drummond was detached from the Pioneer Training Battalion at Fovant and attached to the 9th Training Battalion at Durrington in Wiltshire on the 24th of May 1917. He returned to the Pioneer Training Battalion on the 1st of June. On the 10th of July 1917 Private Drummond was transferred from his parent unit, the 4th Pioneer Battalion, to the Australian Engineers at the Engineer Training Depot at Brightlingsea in Essex, on the North Sea and just southeast of Colchester. As a result of this transfer, his rank was changed from Private to Sapper [3].

4. War Service in France and Flanders

Sapper Drummond was given another TAB injection on the 6th of October 1917. He departed from the Engineer Training Center at Brightlingsea on the 22nd of October 1917 and proceeded overseas to France by way of Southampton. On the following day he was at Rouelles, a northern suburb of Le Havre. Drummond left Rouelles enroute to the 1st Australian Division Engineers on the 26th of October, the first day of the second battle of Passchendaele.

Drummond was taken on the strength of the 1st Field Company, Australian Engineers on the 2nd of November 1917 in the Ypres salient and found himself right in the middle of a battle. The second battle of Passchendaele ended on the 10th of November and Drummond’s unit moved to a relatively more quiet sector at Messines. He remained on the Messines-Warneton front during the winter of 1917-1918.

Sapper Drummond was gassed during the great German offensive on the Somme in 1918. He apparently was able to remain with his unit and took part in the battle of Hazebrouck between the 12th and 15th of April 1918. He remained with his unit through the summer of 1918 and was present at the battle of Amiens from the 8th to 11th of August, at the battle of Albert from the 21st to the 23rd of August, and at the battle of Epehy on the 18th of September. With the near defeat of the German forces, Sapper Drummond and his unit took part in the pursuit of the German army to Mons beginning on the 28th of September 1918.

Drummond was granted leave in England on the 14th of October 1918 while his unit was engaged in chasing the Germans to the east. He returned to the 1st Field Company on the 1st of November while the British forces still had the Germans on the run.

Following the Armistice on the 11th of November, Sapper Drummond’s unit remained in France. On the 2nd of January 1919 he was detached from his company for a short period to serve with the 1st Infantry Brigade of the 1st Australian Division. He rejoined his company on the 22nd of February 1919 and received orders to proceed to England for non-military employment.

5. Non-Military Employment in Scotland

Drummond left France and disembarked at Southampton on the 13th of March 1919. He immediately reported to Parkhouse in London. On the 18th of March he was granted a week’s leave in London and on the 25th of March his leave was extended for four days. On the 29th of March he was granted leave with pay from his military duties to attend a course in Joinery at the firm of Stephens & Son Ltd., Linthouse, Glasgow, Scotland [4]. On the 29th of July 1919, while attending the Joinery course, Drummond sprained his ankle and had to be treated at the military hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland.

6. Return to Australia

At the end of his period of non-military employment, Sapper Drummond returned to the 1st Field Company on the 29th of September 1919 after a six-month absence. On the 6th of October 1919 he embarked aboard H.T. Pakeha [5] bound for Australia. He arrived in Australia on the 24th of November 1919 and proceeded immediately by rail to the headquarters of the 2nd Military District (2 M.D.) for demobilization. What was in store for him at this point was a long series of medical evaluations prior to his final discharge from the Army.

On the day following his arrival in Australia, a Medical Report of an Invalid was made out on Drummond noting his stammering as a disability [6]. On the 22nd of December 1919 he was given a medical evaluation at No. 4 Army General Hospital by Major A.W. Campbell and Captain C. Sampling. This evaluation was presented to a medical board that convened at No. 4 Army General Hospital on the 17th of February 1920. The medical board consisted of the following officers:

President: Lieutenant Colonel L.W. Bond

Member: Major J. Fitzharding

Member: Captain P. Allen

The medical board concluded that Drummond’s disability (stammering) was aggravated by military service and that it was a permanent condition. The board also concluded that he had lost 25 percent of his full capacity to work in his "pre-enlistment trade or occupation" and that he had also lost 25 percent of this full capacity to work in the "general labour market." He was "not recommended for discharge as permanently unfit for General Service" and no surgical procedure was recommended to correct his condition.

On the 18th of February 1920 the board’s findings were published. The final medical evaluation of Sapper Drummond indicated that he:

"Has always stammered, but aggravated great deal since being gassed in March 1918. Deferred for treatment. Neurasthenic [7]. Condition existed prior to enlistment."

His present condition was described as:

"Much improved but cannot be completely cured. Received 25% disability."

The above evaluations were prepared by Captain P. Allen, Medical Officer in charge of Drummond’s case. Allen’s medical report was found to be accurate by Lieutenant Colonel L.W. Bond, Officer in Charge of Hospital, D.A.B. Sydney. Drummond was subsequently confirmed for discharge by Major A.L. Kerr, Principal Medical Officer.

William Broadfoot Drummond was discharged from the Army in 2 Military District on the 2nd of April 1920. Following his discharge he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service during the Great War.


[1] A stone is a unit of weight measure equivalent to 14 pounds.

[2] H.M.A.T. His Majesty’s Australian Transport.

[3] Most likely this transfer occurred because of his skill and prior training as a carpenter.

[4] It is not known if Drummond’s mother was still living in Glasgow at the time. It was fortunate for him to be able to obtain this non-military employment in his boyhood home town.

[5] H.T. Hired Transport.

[6] This seems curious that his stammering was now thought to be a disability but was not so considered when he was fighting the Germans in France or taking a course in Joinery in Scotland.

[7] Neurasthenia, or nervous debilitation, was a malady commonly diagnosed in the Victorian period and into the early 20th century.


1. Soldiers Service Papers from the National Archives of Australian, consisting of the following documents:

a. Attestation Paper.

1) Certificate of Attesting Officer
2) Oath to be Taken by Person Being Enlisted
3) Description of Individual on Enlistment
4) Certificate of Medical Examination
5) Certificate of Commanding Officer

b. Statement of Service
c. Service and Casualty Form (A.I.F. 273)
d. Casualty Form - Active Service (Army Form B. 103)
e. Medical History (C.M. Form D.I.)
f. Medical Report of an Invalid (A.M. Form D2)
g. Transfer to Australian Imperial Force

2. Battle Honours of the Royal Engineer. The Royal Engineers Journal. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.

3. Mc NICOLL, R.R. The Royal Australian Engineers, 1902 to 1919: Making and Breaking. The Corps Committee of The Royal Australian Engineers, Canberra, 1979.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Family History Library Film 0203546, GRO Reference Volume 490, Enumeration District 5, Page 33.

5. BANKS, A. A Military Atlas of the First World War. Heinemann Educational Books, London, 1975.