Willam TASKER (Villers Bretonneux 80)

25 avril 2018

William George "Twit" Tasker (15 October 1891 – 9 August 1918) was an Australian World War I soldier who had been a national representative rugby union player making six Test appearances for the Wallabies.

Born in Condobolin, New South Wales, Tasker attended Newington College from (1906–1911). He captained the Newington First XV in 1911 and was selected in and captained the GPS Schools representative 1st XV in 1911. He stayed in Sydney after completing his schooling becoming a bank clerk whilst pursuing a rugby career.

Rugby career

Willam Tasker with the ball in his hands.

He debuted for the Newtown Rugby Club in Sydney in 1912 and that same year at age 20 he captained the club’s first-grade side.

He was selected in the Australia national rugby union squad which toured North America in 1912 though he did not play a Test. The squad was overwhelmed with hospitality and lacking strong management they reveled in the social life and undergraduate antics of the college fraternity houses in which they were billeted. In what must be the worst record of any Australian touring team, the squad lost all of their Canadian matches amongst five defeats. Tasker was the first Wallaby ever to be sent from the field. An incident occurred on the 1912 tour of the United States when Tasker’s rough play upset an American referee.

Tasker made his Test debut at Athletic Park on the 1913 tour of New Zealand and played in all three Tests of that tour. The following year he made three further Test appearances when the All Blacks toured Australia in a return series.

War service
Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux where lies William Tasker & 770 other Australian fallen. Tasker’s grave at Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme (France) and Tasker’s memorial plaque at Newington College too.

Tasker enlisted in the AIF in January 1915, a Gunner in the 12th Field Artillery Brigade, 13th Battalion (Australia). He took part in the Landing at Anzac Cove, landing late on 25 April 1915. From May to August, the 13th battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the ANZAC front lines. Tasker was severely wounded at Quinn’s Post at Gallipoli with shell fragment damage to his legs and ankle. He was invalided back to Australia. A rugby colleague also at Gallipoli, H.A Mitchell of the Manly Club wrote home of Tasker’s injuries "A bomb loaded up Tasker’s leg and ankle up with about 17 pieces of shot. It will be sometime before he can do any of that sidestepping he used to do".[7] In 1916 he re-enlisted with the 116th Howitzer Battery and he again embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A60 Aeneas on 30 September. He saw further action on the Western Front and was twice wounded before his death from wounds at Harbonnieres on the second day of the Battle of Amiens just three months before war’s end. He is buried at the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

The sporting journal ’The Referee’ reported :
“ Soldier-footballer W.G. Tasker has fallen in France. He was a young representative Australian Rugby Union five-eighth, who played against New Zealand, America and Queensland, and won honors for his school, Newington College. When the bugle-call to arms was sounded in 1914 he put aside the jersey for the khaki, the football for the rifle and the bayonet. To Gallipoli he went, and fought grimlv by the side of gallant comrades of the football field, some to fall before his eyes : unbeaten Harold George and fearless Fred Thompson. He spoke of the deeds of these true men as a little brother talks of big brothers who do things that thrill. ‘Twit’ Tasker came back [to Sydney] wounded badly, but in time recovered sufficiently to induce the keen-eyed military masters to pass him again for active service. In France another of the 1914 Blues of NSW who had been a hero with him at Gallipoli, Captain C. Wallach, M.C., recently fell, and now ‘Twit’ Tasker, the youngest of the lot, has gone down with the colors flying. His spirit is that which will permeate the men and women destined to make of Australia the salt of the earth in days to come, when few here now will be here to see the greatness come to the land and its people — a greatness born of the turmoil of the war. (Source : WIKIPEDIA)
He is buried at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Grave XIX D2.