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William Howard Gates was 22 years old, unmarried and employed as a fitter when he enlisted in Queenscliff on 18th of August 1914. He was already on duty as a soldier in the 70th Infantry militia guarding the artillery at Queenscliff Fort. The militia had been 'called up' on the 7th August for that particular task. The enlistments for the 8th Infantry Battalion, which was based on the 70th Infantry, opened on the day that he enlisted. The militia was not able to be sent overseas, and so the Australian Imperial Force Was raised for that task. The first entry in his file records that he was promoted to Corporal on 17th October 1914, just prior to his embarkation on HMAT Benalla 19th October 1914. Following the confusion of the Landing on 25th April and the heavy losses suffered by the battalion in the hopeless attack on Krithia on 8th May 1915 many junior leaders had to be replaced. His next entry shows him promoted to Sergeant on the 14th May 1915
On 25th August 1915 Sergeant Gates reported ill to 3rd Australian Field Ambulance on Gallipoli. He was diagnosed as suffering from influenza and was transferred to the Casualty Clearing Station on the same day. He was further diagnosed as suffering from rheumatism and debility and was transferred to the Hospital Ship Valdiva He was taken to Mudros on the Greek island of Lemnos. From here he was transferred to the Hospital Ship Ionian and taken to St John's Hospital on Malta on 1st September 1915. At Petillon on 19th/20th July 1916 Signaller Sergeant Gates, of the 60th Infantry Battalion, under very heavy machine gun and artillery fire bravely attempted to establish communication across 'No Man's Land'. After being wounded in both legs he valiantly and repeatedly attempted to lay the wires till compelled to relinquish his efforts owing to extreme exhaustion. Ballarat Avenue of Honour Tree no. 55.