Captain William Angus MC
Captain William Angus MC

Salute to brave 'Scot'

IN THE 1970s, the famous Scottish singer Andy Stewart wrote a hit song which was about a soldier with words such as:

“There was a soldier

A Scottish soldier,

Who wandered far away;

There was none bolder,

With good broad shoulder……..”

These words by Andy Stewart could well describe the life of Captain William Angus, who won the Military Cross in the Second World War for “outstanding leadership and courage against the enemy while serving with the 2/15th Battalion, 9th Division AIF, at Tel El Eisa in the Middle East on 11th August, 1942”.

William Angus was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 9, 1917, was the eldest of three sons to William and Elizabeth Angus. The family moved to “Strathearn”, Locke St, Warwick. William’s early education began at the Warwick Central School, where he was known as Bill, before he was enrolled at the nearby Scots College in February, 1933.

In his time at Scots College, Bill was a very involved student who showed good sporting ability in athletics, diving, cricket and rugby. He was a member of the victorious “Barnes Cup” swimming team as well as the “Kyawanna Cup” rugby team. In one game against the Christian Brothers College at Slade Park “The Clansman”, had this to say about his ability in scoring tries:

“Bill was also prominent in the College’s theatre program and was a member of the school Dramatic Society in 1934. He took part in stage productions and played the role of the Journeyman printer in the play, Box and Cox. In another production, The Bathroom Door, he played the part of an elderly gentleman so well that The Clansman, June, 1934 issue noted his performance:

“After leaving school at the end of 1934, Bill went to work with the Union Bank in Warwick where he studied for and passed the bank exam. He was, at this stage, settled on a career in the banking industry. He continued his association with Scots College and attended annual reunions in 1937 and 1938, and in June 1939, he served on the committee of the Old Scots Collegians Association.

“He was also a member of the local militia in Warwick where he reached the rank of Corporal before being selected to undergo an officers training course in 1939.

“Bill, at this time, met a young lady by the name of Alison Keogh and was courting her while living at home in Warwick. However, at this time in history, the clouds of war were looming over Europe, and demands were made on young Australians to enlist in the AIF to support Britain in its conflict with Germany in 1939.”

On May 23, 1940, Bill enlisted in the AIF and was immediately promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the 2/15th. Australian Infantry Battalion where, after his initial training he was posted to Darwin in July 1940, to commence three months training in desert conditions before deployment to the Middle East.

On December 26, 1940, Bill was tearfully farewelled by Alison and his family when the 2/15th sailed on the “Queen Mary” bound for the Middle East. On landing, Bill, now promoted to Lieutenant, was detailed infantry duties with Australian forces against the German Field Marshall Rommel’s forces in the desert campaign. He survived the seven and a half months of the Siege of Tobruk and the battles in Libya and Syria.

On July 18, 1942, Bill was promoted to Captain and was now a battle hardened veteran of desert warfare. He had become a very well-respected officer and soldier, given the nickname by his troops as “Bull”. It was at this time that Bill was to display these fine qualities that he had developed as a young man at Scots, when he led a search and destroy patrol on the night of August 10/11, 1942. For the subsequent action that followed, Bill was awarded the Military Cross and Military Command reported his citation:

“Captain Angus, by his coolness, resolute leadership, and skilful and patient planning, was responsible for the success of a fighting patrol in the coastal sector near Tel El Eisa, which caused heavy casualties to an enemy patrol on the night of August 10, 1942.

“Captain Angus was in command of the patrol whose object was to inflict casualties on enemy working parties whose presence in the area at night had been determined by a skilful reconnaissance patrol made by him. When about 1400 yards from our foremost defended locality, an enemy patrol was observed about 75 yards from the patrol but Captain Angus held his fire and was moving his patrol forward another 50 yards in the vicinity of a track running across his front, when another party was seen approaching.

“The patrol commander was unwilling to engage the enemy until he was satisfied that he would make best use of his weapons and accordingly continued to digress his patrol alongside the track issuing orders that fire was not to be opened until he gave the signal.

“After the patrol had waited silently for 20 minutes a German party about 35 strong, protected by two machine gunners approached along the track. With cool judgment, Captain Angus waited until each member of his patrol had a target opposite him at very close range and then gave the signal to fire by himself springing to his feet and hurling a grenade. It is estimated that as a result, 20 enemy were killed and 5 seriously wounded. One of the wounded was taken prisoner under Captain Angus’ direction.

“The success of the operation and the low casualty of our troops (one missing, believed killed, one wounded) was entirely due to outstanding leadership, clear thinking and calm judgment of Captain Angus”.

After being evacuated from Tobruk with the 2/15th to Palestine and Syria, Bill left the Middle East and arrived back in Sydney on a short leave before the 2/15th was to be deployed again to New Guinea to assist the defence of Australia. Bill arrived in Port Moresby on August 4, 1943, after completing a jungle defence course in north Queensland. After a short time in New Guinea, Bill came home on leave where he and Alison were married at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in East Brisbane on December 18, 1943, before sailing from Cairns to Morotai where he again saw action in Borneo, before the war ended on August 15. 1945.

Back home in Queensland, Bill was not ready to resume his life working in a bank, so accepted a position with the Shell Oil Company as a representative based in Pittsworth in 1946, before moving to Innisfail in North Queensland with Alison and his young daughter Suzanne. He and Alison soon had two more children, Ian and Terry.

In 1951, Bill was transferred back to Brisbane where he stayed for four years before accepting a new position with Neptune Oil Company in Sydney as the State sales manager.

Never one to pass up any opportunity to improve himself and his family, Bill thought he would try his luck at turf farming so bought a farm out in the picturesque Hawkesbury Valley west of Sydney in 1976. In 1981, Bill and the family moved to the Gold Coast to retire but his health took a turn for the worse and he constantly battled high blood pressure. On July 7, 1983 Bill passed away at aged 65 and now lies at peace in the Allambie Gardens Cemetery on the Gold Coast. He is survived by his wife Alison and children Suzanne and Ian, his son Terry predeceasing him.

Captain Bill Angus, your old school at Scots College salutes you as a man of integrity, courage and resourcefulness. You will be remembered as a brave warrior who deserves the title of the Scottish Soldier. Perhaps Andy Stewart would not mind if this ending could be altered to include Tyrol as the Hawkesbury.

“He’s seen the glory, he’s told the story

of battles glorious and deeds victorious.

The bugles ceased, he is at peace now

Far from those green hills of the Hawkesbury”.


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