Voices from the Past

9/76 Trooper William Rupert Pyle

William Rupert Pyle was born at St Bathans (Otago) on 17 January 1889. He was a member of the Waitaki High School Cadets and on leaving school, went to work in Dunedin as a Clerk for the Bank of New South Wales.

He was a keen sportsman and had played representative rugby for Otago in 1914.

At the outbreak of war, William joined up with his brother Frank. His brother Cyril was to join later. He enlisted on 10 August 1914 and embarked for Alexandria on 16 October 1914 aboard the Troopship Ruapehu. He writes in his diary.

“The great day at last. We are really off. A splendid sight to see the long line moving down the harbour. We moved off about 8. A great number of people on the shore to give us a final wave.”

On board, he had severe bouts of sea sickness, finally arriving in Egypt on 3 December 1914. He entrained to Zeitoun Camp and spent his first night sleeping on the sand. Very soon he began the hard training of drill & shooting practice and long route marches. In February he was deployed to the Suez Canal to encounter the Turks and then it was back to Alexandria.

William was soon hearing news of the casualties from the landing on the 25th and in May, he left for Lemnos aboard the SS City of Edinburgh, finally landing at Anzac Cove on 27 May 1915.

“We landed alright but spent bullets were flying around us onto the water. We landed at the same place as our fellows did when they made the great charge. Heavy firing all night.”

In the next few days, living in dug-outs, William continued to come under heavy fire from Turkish rifle and machine gun fire. He lost a couple of mates and writes in his diary on 31 May.

“Poor old Vic Christopher was shot dead. They got him this morning. Vic’s death is hard on anyone who knew him. He was one of the best chaps I ever knew and us fellows who were pals of his are really cut up. There are so many good fellows gone, though.”

 For the next two months, trench life was one of boredom, losing mates 

and keeping your own head down. On 25 June,William writes.

“Had a swim this afternoon. The snipers got one of our chaps down there. Swanson was his name. Poor chap, he only lasted a few minutes.”

Early in August, William is aware of the major offensive being planned and on 6 August, he writes.

“Action at last. We are to attack tonight. We are off sometime after dark and are to take a big ridge ahead of us. That is if we get thro’ allright.”

That was to be William Pyle’s last diary entry. The big ridge he wrote about was Chunuk Bair and sometime during the night of the 6th or on the 7th, Trooper William Rupert Pyle was killed, aged 26.

William is buried in No. 2 Outpost Cemetery (Gallipoli). Grave B. 12.