|Grave of Private William Cleave Carstairs, Portianos Military Cemetery. Photograph Jim Claven 2012|
The 8th Battalion was one of the first Battalions raised by the AIF during the First World War. Recruited from rural Victoria, along with other Victorian battalions (the 5th, 6th and 7th) it formed the 2nd Brigade. It was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Bolton and embarked for overseas October 1914.
After training in Egypt, the 8th Battalion took part in the landing at anzac on the 25th April as part of the second wave. Ten days later, the Battalion was transferred to Cape Helles to take part in the attack on Krithia, losing a third of its strength in the attack.
The Battalion returned to Anzac Cove to help defend the beachhead. William was one of the reinforcements to the 8th Battalion at Anzac on 26th May 1915.
The unhealthy conditions on the peninsula began to take their toll on William. On 4th June 1915 he was reported sick with "cough and pains" and was evacuated to Egypt aboard the Hospital Ship Clacton. He arrived at Alexandria and was transferred to the British Convalescent Camp at nearby Mustapha. He was diagnosed as suffering from influenza.
|British Convalescent Camp, Mustapha, Alexandria, Egypt. AWM image.|
|Camp area on the steep hillside held by the 8th Battalion from June to July 1915, Steele's Post, Anzac Area. William would have served here. AWM image P01580.015|
On 16th September 1915 he was reported sick and transferred from the peninsula to the Australian hospitals at Lemnos. By the 24th September he was reported to be "dangerously ill". After suffering for three weeks, Williams succumbed on 18th October to the effects of dysentery while being cared for by the Austrlaian nurses at the 3rd Australian General Hospital.
|Tent lines of the 3rd Australian General Hospital where William was treated, Turks Head Peninsula, Lemnos, 1915. AWM image J01438|
|Two AIF Army chaplains on Lemnos. AWM image J01407|
The surviving members of William's unit would follow him to Lemnos in December 1915 as the peninsula was evacuated. It is touching to think that some of his comrades may have visited his grave at the nearby Portianos Military Cemetery. Portianou (as it is now called) lies on a few kilometers from the main Anzac Rest Camp at Sarpi.
|A group of officers from William's 8th Battalion on Lemnos, December 1915. AWM image C01197|