Private William John Irving Tatchell (VX28581) of the 2/6 Battalion was stabbed in the chest by Edward Clarence Balser, a 27 year old U.S. soldier, during a fight in Centenary Park (now Centenary Place) near a laneway between Barry Parade and Wickham Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland.

He was evacuated to the 112 Australian General Hospital (112 AGH) with a wound to the chest where he died later that day.

William Tatchell was a storeman before he enlisted on 3 July 1940. He embarked for Palestine with the 6th Reinforcements on 7 April 1941. After completing his service in the Middle East, he embarked at Suez on 5 March 1942 to return to Australia.


AWM Photo ID number P06954.007

Private William Tatchell, daughter Joan Alwyn Tatchell,
son (name unknown) and his wife Lilliam Tatchell (nee Butcher)


A Court of Inquiry was held at Victoria Barracks on 28 January 1943 into the cause of his death. It found that he had died from internal haemorrhage and stab wound to the heart sustained in Brisbane during a fight with American soldiers on 9 October 1942. There was no evidence of misconduct by Private Tatchell. He was not on duty at the time. He was buried in Portion 10, Section 84, Allotment 12, at the Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane.


COURIER MAIL Saturday 10 October 1942

Fatal Stabs In Fight

A soldier was stabbed to death, and two others were wounded with a knife in a fight in Centenary Park, Valley, last night.

The dead man was stabbed in the region of the heart and beneath the ribs on the lower right side, and died before he could be admitted to hospital.

Of the wounded, one received a gash below the right eye extend-from the side of the face to the nose, and a slight wound on the left forearm. The third man received a slight wound in the chest.

They were both treated at a military hospital. Detectives who are being assisted by military police, are still searching for the attacker.

Fights Broken Up

Police from the Valley and detectives from the city were quickly on the scene, and broke up several other fights which threatened to develop. Extra police were brought to the city from suburban stations.

During the afternoon and early evening there were several other disturbances in the city and Valley in which soldiers were involved.


COURIER MAIL Monday 12 October 1942


BRISBANE, Sunday. - As a sequel to a fight at Centenary Park, Brisbane, on Friday night, Edward Clarence Balser, 27, a U.S. soldier, was charged in the Police Court on Saturday with having wilfully murdered Raymond W. J. L. Tatchell. Balser was also charged with having caused grievous bodily harm to Percival William Peagram and with having unlawfully wounded Raymond William Rogers.

On the application of the United States military authorities, Balser was handed to their custody.

Note:- The article incorrectly states that Thatchell's first name is Raymond.


COURIER MAIL Thursday 25 March 1943


Private William John Irving Tatchell, a member of the AIF who was fatally stabbed in a brawl at Wickham Street, Valley on October 9, was an innocent victim, said Detective Sergeant F. E. Bischof at the inquest yesterday. Tatchell was not an aggressor in any way, and had not taken part in the disturbance before being stabbed.

Detective Sergeant Bischof  added that when making enquiries concerning the death of Tatchell he found a large pocket knife with the big blade opened and blood stained in a laneway running from Wickham Street to Barry Parade. Four soldiers had identified Private Edward Clarence Balser, of the American Army, as the man who had stabbed Tatchell.

Captain Emmett Dickson Whipple, of the US Army who was Assistant Trial Judge Advocate at the court-martial of Balser, stated that Balser had been acquitted on all counts.

The inquest was adjourned.


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This page first produced 19 December 2010

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