Corporal William Freeman was a 20 year old labourer from Aird Street, Parramatta. His sister was Mrs Perram, also of Aird Street, Parramatta. He enlisted on 10 November 1914, and embarked with his unit on 11 February 1915 from Sydney aboard the HMAT Seang Bee A48.
On 9 August 1915 he was admitted to hospital for a gunshot wound to the foot, and was discharged on 21 August 1915. On 2 March 1917 his post was attacked on the flank and the rear by a German raiding party. The Corporal in charge was killed. Private William Freeman took charge and inspired the men to drive the enemy off, with heavy losses, leaving numerous dead behind and several prisoners in the hands of his men. He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal on 27 March 1917, and was featured in the London Gazette on 17 April 1917 and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 21 August 1917 for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took command of a post, and by his own magnificent personal example inspired his men to drive off a strong enemy counter-attack”. He was promoted to Corporal on 1 September 1917.
On 8 September 1917 he was admitted to hospital sick, suspected to be malaria. He returned to Australia aboard the HMAT Nephritis A68 on 1 November 1917. He was discharged on 27 February 1918.
After the war he married Mrs Ruby Pearl Freeman. He died 7 August 1966.
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2018