William Brazenor was born on 7 April 1888 at Ballarat, son of William Brazenor and Ellen Coogan. On his birth certificate his name is listed William Brazenor Coogan. His father William married Maria Smythe, a widow with four children, in June 1888. It appears that William became part of the Brazenor family. Tragically his mother Ellen Coogan, died just two years later in 1890. She was living in Horsham at the time of her death from typhoid fever aged just 25. There was no mention of her son in the family death notice or on her tombstone.
William was educated at the Pleasant Street State School and he later joined the Ballarat Water Supply as a clerk and began a part-time course with the Victorian Institute of Accountants. He was active in the St Andrew’s Young Men’s Club and was secretary to the Ballarat and Agricultural Pastoral Society.
He joined the Ballarat City Rowing Club In 1909. He rowed in the club’s Maiden four at Ballarat and Barwon Regattas with Jack Walker, W.Halse and W.Bryant. In 1912 he competed on the Yarra in the Army Rowing Association’s Cup in an eight representing the Ballarat Regiment. The crew comprised two other Ballarat City members, Jack Walker and Hugh Conran. It was stroked by Eric Brind of the Wendouree Rowing Club. The Ballarat crew won by two feet from Engineers.
Willam was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, 7th Australian Infantry Regiment, and was promoted Lieutenant in 1911 and Captain in 1912. On 22 November 1911 he married Anne Mabel Cunningham at St Peter’s Anglican Church, Ballarat. They lived at 16 Webster Street, Ballarat. He was 27 years old when he enlisted on the 29th of March 1915 in the 23rd Battalion, C Company, Australian Imperial Force, with the rank of Captain. His Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A14 ‘Euripides’ on the 10th of May 1915.
Studio portrait of three officer of the 23rd Battalion who all embarked together from Melbourne on 10 May 1915 aboard HMAT Euripides. On the left is Captain Hugh Marcell Conran, seated is Major William Brazenor and on the right is Major Eric Thomas Brind all from Ballarat. Conran and Brazenor are Ballarat City RC rowers and Eric Brind was a member at Wendouree RC. Eric Brind was a good friend of William Brazenor. They served in the same Battalion for 16 months of continuous action. Eric was killed in action in on the 28th of August 1916 during the battle of Pozieres.
William fought at Gallipoli and in France with distinction and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel from 23rd Battalion on the 2nd of December 1916.
He was Mentioned in Dispatches three time on 2/1/1917, 28/12/1917 and the 31/12/1918. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order 28/12/1917 (promulgated Comm. of Australia Gazette, 18/4/1918. He was later awarded a Bar to the DSO for gallantry in France on the 2/09/1918.(London Gazette,24/09/1918)
The citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack. He led his battalion successfully, and supervised, under constant machine gun and rifle fire, the consolidation of the captured ground. Next day he led a patrol into “No Man’s Land” and made a reconnaissance, with the result that the line was pushed forward another 200 yards. Throughout the operation he did fine work.”
He returned to Australia on the 7th of May, 1919 and he also served in World War 2, when he commanded the 3rd Garrison Brigade and the 20th Battalion, Volunteer Defence Corps.
He died suddenly on September 1945 in Ballarat. In the Australian Dictionary of Biography it records of him,
“Brazenor achieved prominence in both his military and civilian careers through natural ability and hard work. He was involved in many community projects and served terms as president of Ballarat Legacy, the orphanage committee, the Mechanics’ Institute and the Old Colonists’ Association. A keen sportsman, he was a first-class rifle-shot, had a handicap of 5 at golf and was a 100-break man at billiards.”