Thursday 12 March 2015

"Bullah" Vardy

It's difficult to imagine the horror that William Carroll Vardy, better known as "Bullah", went through during the First World War. Like many that joined up from Campbelltown, the young man would never return the same person who first left the town.

William Carroll Vardy was born in Campbelltown in 1891 to Michael and Mary Ellen Vardy. He was the youngest of 12 children. "Bullah" was 24 and working as a bank officer when he decided to answer the call to join the war. His older brother Joe had served in the Boer War.

"Bullah" joined the 13th Reinforcements, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade in August 1915. He would eventually leave from Western Australia bound initially for Egypt and then to France where he was involved in action at Poizieres and later Ypres in Belgium.

Fortunately, "Bullah" kept a diary of his experiences on the Western Front. They provide us with an insight into what conditions he would've experienced in the trenches. One passage reads:

"Last night was hell . . . our boys again attacking and the casualties were heavy. Was buried by a big shell in my dugout.  Men close by killed . . . a sniper shot at me and only missed by a few inches, but got poor chap behind me. Trenches full of dead and wounded."
"Bullah" survived the war but was released on medical grounds and he returned to Australia in 1919. He rejoined the bank, married a local girl named Rita and settled at "Carmel" in Patrick Street. He and Rita produced four children. Sadly, and understandably, the horrors of the war seemed to affect him for the rest of his life. He died in 1971.
I will be speaking about "Bullah" Vardy on ANZAC Day at 1.30pm at the meeting of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society at Glenalvon at 8 Lithgow Street, Campbelltown. Visitors are welcome.
"Bullah" and his wife Rita in later years (Photo courtesy of Chris Thomson)

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