Studio portrait of Major General Sir William Bridges KCB CMG. Photographer: Alice Mills, Melbourne. (AWM A02867)
“Anyhow, I have commanded an Australian Division for nine months…”
These are the reported last words of Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges on board the hospital ship Gascon en route to Cairo on the 18th of May 1915. In the words of C. E. W Bean, “he knew he was dying.”
A few days earlier, he had been picked out by a sniper in Monash Valley. The bullet had severed several major arteries in his thigh. Now gangrene had set in. His doctors knew that immediate amputation for this 53 year old man would be fatal, and it was better for nature to take its course, which in William Bridges’ case was 3 days.
His last recorded instruction “was that his regret should be conveyed to the Minister for Defence that his dispatch concerning the landing was not complete — he was too tired now.”
We can only surmise as to the mental processes of this proud man as he slipped in and out of consciousness. He may have remembered his life experiences and those closest to him, memories of time spent with his family and friends around Sydney’s foreshores, in particular his posting to Middle Head.