Topic: William Charles Bisphan

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A soldier of the Great War killed in action during the fighting around Bapaume.

Rifleman William Charles Bisphan – 68590

William was born at Glentunnel on 19 October 1887, son of George Frederick and Amelia Bisphan.  He was educated at the local school and after leaving he was employed by Murchison Bros, and the Homebush Brick and Goal Company. His last employer was J. Deans who employed him as a gold miner. He was interested in most kinds of sport, but especially in football. He played for the Black Diamonds Football Club for many years. He was 5ft 6in tall with a medium complexion, brown eyes and “medium” hair.

William enlisted at Christchurch on 12th September 1917 and was assigned to the 34th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Regiment, D Company. Whilst in camp at Trentham he was absent without leave on New Years Eve 1917 and lost three days pay as well as being confined to barracks for 7 days. He embarked on the Ulimaroa on 8th February  and arrived in Liverpool on 29 March 1918, marching into camp at Brocton the same day. Brocton, the camp of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, was situated on the northern edge of Cannock Chase, County Staffordshire. He left for France on 8th May 1918 and marched into Base depot at Etaples two days later. He marched out to No 3 NZ Entrenching Battalion, joining them in the field on 12th May. About a month later on 8th June he was transferred to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Rifle Brigade and posted to B Company. He was killed in action on 26th August. He was buried near where he fell in an isolated grave on the east side of Vaulx-Bapaume Road, 1 ½ miles north East of Bapaume. It would seem that his body was gathered in for it now lies in the Vaulx Hill Cemetery. In New Zealand William is remembered on the Malvern County War Memorial.   

Cemetery locale history: Vaulx-Vraucourt is a village in the Department of the Pas-de-Calais, 6 kilometres north-east of Bapaume. Vaulx-Vraucourt village was taken in the spring of 1917, lost (after severe fighting) in March 1918, and retaken in the following September. Vaulx Hill Cemetery started with just 17 graves of September 1918 (in Plot I, Rows A and B). The rest of the cemetery was formed after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other cemeteries and from the battlefields in the immediate neighbourhood. The cemetery now contains 856 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 258 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 29 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and four others buried in other cemeteries whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

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William Charles Bisphan


First Names:William Charles
Last Name:Bisphan
Date of Birth:19 October 1887
Place of Birth:Glentunnel
Date of Death:26 August 1918
Place of Death:Bapaume, France
Memorial or Cemetery:Vaulx Cemetery, France
Age at death:31
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Goldminer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:78/13
Regiment or Service:New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:12 September 1917
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of George and Amelia Bisphan also S.G. Bisphan (brother), Glentunnel.
Service Number:68590
Rank last held:Rifleman
Embarkation:8 February 1918
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Ulimaroa
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Killed in action