William Jenkins emigrated to Australia from England, where he was born in Hull on 5 October 1889. After selection and training as a submariner in the new Australian navy, he joined the AE2’s commissioning crew at Portsmouth. He must also have married there, for he later applied to the RAN for an assisted passage to Australia for his wife, Kate Elizabeth.
A prisoner of war in both Afion Kara Hissar and Belemedik, Jenkins spent three years working as a labourer on the infamous Berlin to Baghdad railway’s horror stretch through the Taurus Mountains. George Kerr’s diary records that Jenkins was one of a small coterie of ‘good time boys’ at Belemedik who spent their leisure time drinking and playing cards. At one stage Kerr recorded a fairly hefty debt (50 Turkish pounds) that Jenkins owed him, perhaps for alcohol and cigarettes, but it could also have been a gambling debt.
Jenkins was repatriated to London via Alexandria in Egypt by December 1918. He served again briefly at the London Depot, and on the Dolphin and Bonaventure, before returning home to Australia aboard HMAS Platypus on 2 May 1919. His tour of duty ended on 20 October 1919. He did not re-enlist in the RAN, and was last heard of in Malvern East, Victoria.