A Life Interrupted by War – William Samuel Crowl

Pte William Samuel Crowl

In memory of Bill Crowl who at 20 years old left a promising sporting career, ambitions of becoming an electrician and the girl he’d just met and fallen in love with, to serve his country with the Second AIF during WWII.

 “Mum always told the story of how they met during the progressive barn-dance,” his son Colin recalls.

New Guinea was an important defence post against the Japanese in WWII and Bill saw action there as well as Cowra POW camp by the end of WWII. One of the last soldiers demobbed, Clare and Bill married in 1948 with a lavish wedding in Parramatta.

The cocky young sportsman that came back from the war a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, diffident man, settled into civilian life without the electrical trade he’d been hoping for, but as a plasterer and cornice maker.

Encouraged by his wife, Bill relocates his family from western Sydney to Canberra in 1963.  Lake Burleigh-Griffin is now finished and the nation’s capital needs builders, fast, to meet the demand for housing. With hard work and long hours, sometimes working casual night-shift jobs, Bill’s kids grow up with a beautiful home and good education.

By the 1980s Bill has had enough of the cold.

He and Clare semi-retire up to Clare’s home town of Coffs Harbour and enjoy a new relaxed lifestyle, including visits from grand-children, playing bowls and walking the dog along the beach.

A severe stroke left Bill paralysed and unable to talk in March 2009. Over the past 12 months, he has withered away trapped in his own body. Those sitting by his side know he was in there, just out of reach. He is finally at peace.

His greatest legacy will be the many friends he made and the children and grand-children he taught to fish and catch a ball.

Grandad and Maclean fishing
Richard and Elizabeth Crowl

The Sawtell cenotaph and the steps of the Coffs Harbour RSL club will have plaques acknowledging William Crowl. The funeral was arranged for 1st April, and we have had the worst floods in 20 years. The roads were closed, and for the first time in memory, the Coffs Harbour Advocate with Bill’s funeral notice did not get published that day, so “April Fool!” The very private life of a very gentle man was very quietly commemorated in the rain.


 Bill will rest at Pine-Grove cemetery to be close to his parents and family.


Clare and Bill

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