poppy2 William Richard ANNEAR - KIA - ID# 691

Capt. William ANNEAR - Cheops Pyramid 10 Jan 1915History records Captain William Richard Annear with the dubious distinction of being the first Australian officer killed at Gallipoli.

William was the second of four children born to John and Ann Annear, of Ballarat, Victoria. His father John died in 1879 leaving Ann alone to raise their children John (11), Elizabeth (8), William (4) and infant Lilly.

Early Life

After schooling in the Victorian State system to 6th Standard, William completed 12 months of secondary schooling. He then joined the civilian forces and became a career soldier in the civilian forces in both Victoria and WA. He first served two years as a gunner with the Victorian Garrison Artillery in the Battery Harbour Trust before the family came to WA. In the goldfields, William joined the WA civilian force and in 1901 was listed as a private in the Goldfields Division.

A Crack Shot

Cheops ID#691 ANNEAR, William Richard-KIA GallipoliHe was a crack shot with a rifle and practically organised the Kalgoorlie Rifle Club, serving as Honorary Secretary for that club and Kalgoorlie branch of the National Rifle Association. In the early 1900s he and George Bird formed the printing and publishing partnership, Bird & Annear. On his frequent trips to Perth he stayed at ‘Orono’, his mother’s home at 53 Hensman Road, Subiaco.

In 1906 he received his first commission as a lieutenant in the 84th (Goldfields) Infantry Regiment. He rose steadily through the ranks until he was appointed a captain in the same regiment in 1912. He was then appointed area officer of Cottesloe district, dissolved his partnership with George Bird, left Kalgoorlie and moved into ‘Orono’ with his mother and sisters.

He was still in charge of the Cottesloe district on the outbreak of war, and enlisted on 18 September 1914 aged 39. Due to his age and experience William was appointed as an instructor at the newly established Blackboy Hill training camp and he did not expect to be going overseas for some time. Shortly before embarkation of the 11th Battalion however, a vacancy occurred.

Gallipoli Calls

Capt. William Richard ANNEAR (rear) in front row of Cheops photo 10 Jan 1915

Capt. William Richard ANNEAR is pictured here (at the rear) kneeling in front row of Cheops photo 10 Jan 1915.

He was rapidly appointed Captain, embarked on the Ascanius and left on 2 November 1914. The contingent reached Egypt in early December and settled in Mena Camp on the outskirts of Cairo, for further training.

From all accounts, the raw, young 11th Battalion needed every bit of it!

After church on Sunday 10 January 1915, the entire battalion posed for the now iconic photo taken of them on the Great Pyramid of Cheops, near the camp. Several months later, on the night before the Anzac landing, William wrote his will, saying:



If I get blown out, I desire that my wristlet watch, field glasses and sovereign purse and contents be forwarded to Miss Nellie Berryman, GPO Hobart, Tas.


At dawn the next morning, William was in one of the first boats to come ashore at Ari Burnu, to the north of Anzac Cove, about 200-300 yards further north than intended. The Turks had seen the sparks from the steamers and were aware of the Australians’ approach. Heavy fire began when most of the boats were still 200 yards from shore.

Plugge's Plateau

The men emerged onto the beach and with orders to go forward, began the dogged climb up the rocky cliff towards Plugge’s Plateau.

They were still under heavy fire from the rear and both sides and suffered heavy casualties. William reached the plateau and clambered over, but was immediately shot through the head.

He was one week shy of his 40th birthday.

He was buried at Plugge’s Plateau but any grave markings were lost and his body was not recovered during the exhumations of the early 1920s.

His name is on the Lone Pine Memorial.

Notes and Sources

Article compiled by WAGS member Shannon Lovelady, for the Post, Community Newspapers, published 28 Mar 2014.

Australian War Memorial - 11th Battalion Embarkation Roll - Roll of Honour - 11th Battalion war diaries, AWM 23/28/1

National Archives Australia - Service Record for Capt. Annear The West Australian - 6 May 1915 p.8. via

Trove newspaper archive - "The Western Australian Officers" The Western Mail - 7 May 1915 p.16. via

Trove newspaper archive - "The Western Australian Officers"