William John Fitness

Born: 8 October 1873

Died: 22 November 1916

William John Fitness died at Salonika, Greece on 22 November 1916 from malaria and heart failure, while serving with the Royal Army Ordinance Corps.

He was born in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India where his father was serving with the British Army.  He also became a professional soldier, with an extensive military career with the Royal Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) where he rose to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.  He married Emily Elizabeth Holding at Woolwich, England in 1896.  She was also born in India, the daughter of a British soldier.

He arrived in Australia in December 1912 and took up a posting as a drill instructor with the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery (RAGA).  He lived at Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills not far from the Headquarters, RAGA at Victoria Barracks, Paddington.  His association with Mosman would be through the RAGA at Middle Head.  On that basis, presumably, his name was put forward for inclusion on the Mosman War Memorial.

He returned to the UK in September 1915 “on command from the AMF (Australian Military Forces)” and became Regimental Sergeant Major of the 37th Heavy Brigade, RGA.  He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in August1916 and then to Lieutenant a week before his death while serving in Greece.

His wife also returned to the UK and was living at Plumstead, England at the time of his death.  She died at Lambeth, England on the sixth anniversary of his death.


Emily Elizabeth Fitness, Died 22 November 1922, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, (Ancestry.com).

Fitness W J (2nd Lieutenant) - Australian Ordnance Corps (37 Heavy Brigade RGA) - died of Malaria and heart failure 22 November 1916, National Archives of Australia, Service Records.

Serjt-Major William John Fitness, Promotion to (Temporary) Second Lieutenant, London Gazette Supplement, 30 October 1916, p 10514.

W. J. Fitness, Promotion to (Temporary) Lieutenant, London Gazette Supplement, 24 January 1917, p 916.

William Fitness, Trumpeter, Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, England, 1891 England Census (Ancestry.com).

William Fitness, Sergeant Instructor, Aberyswyth, Wales, 1901 Wales Census (Ancestry.com).

William Fitness, Company Sergeant Major, Plymouth, England, 1911 England Census, (Ancestry.com).

William Fitness, Destination Sydney, December 1912, Victoria, Australia, Outward Passenger Index, 1852-1915, (Ancestry.com).

William J Fitness, Arrival London, England, 21 September 1915, UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, (Ancentry.com).

William John Fitness, India, Select Births and Baptisms, 1719-1948, (Ancentry.com).

William John Fitness, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 (Ancestry.com).

William John Fitness, 113 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills, Sydney and New South Wales, Australia, Sands Street Index, 1915, (Ancentry.com).  [JSB]

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