No.2306 Private William McDonald
William McDonald stated that he was born at Footscray in 1896, but there is no record of his birth being registered. On his Attestation papers he stated that his mother’s Christian name was Rose, and that his father’s address was unknown.
After leaving school, William worked as a Farm Labourer. Prior to enlisting, he was living with his mother at Empress Street, Queensville Estate, West Footscray, and worked as an explosives labourer at Laverton. (At that time, the Kingsville and the Queensville Estates were part of the Shire of Werribee).
There is a note on his first Attestation Form that William McDonald had previously enlisted in the A.I.F. under the name of William Anderson.
"William Anderson", aged 18 years applied to enlist in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 28 June 1915. He stated that both of his parents had died, and his guardian, Mrs Watkins of 101 Ryan Street, Footscray West, had provided a written approval for him to serve overseas.
At the age of 18 years and 11 months William McDonald again applied to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.), and signed his Attestation paper on 19 November 1915, at Seymour, and was allocated Service Number 3571. On pages 1 and 3 of this application there is a notation that this was a re-attestation, and page 4 states that he was discharged from Broadmeadows for “Family Reasons”. His mother had produced evidence which proved that he had enlisted under the wrong name.
One month later, at the age of 19 years, William McDonald again enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) at Seymour on 1 December 1915. He went to the Broadmeadows Camp for initial training, and was again allocated Service Number 3571. After one week of training, on 9 December 1915, he was appointed to the 8th reinforcements for the 24th Infantry Battalion. Three weeks later, while still at the Broadmeadows Camp, William was again discharged from the A.I.F. for “Family Reasons”, on 28 December 1915.
At the age of 19 years and 1 month, William McDonald again enlisted in the A.I.F. at Melbourne on 18 January 1916. After being accepted he was allocated a new Service Number 2306, and was sent to the 22nd Depot Battalion at Royal Park in Melbourne for initial training. He nominated his mother as his next of kin (because his father’s location was not known), and he produced his previous Discharge Papers. He also stated that he had served for 34 days with the 8th Reinforcements for the 24th Battalion, and had been discharged for Family Reasons.
On 5 February 1916, William was transferred to the 6th Light Horse Depot at the Seymour Camp. After three months of training William McDonald was appointed to the 16th Reinforcements for the 8th Light Horse Regiment, on 18 April 1916.
Around this time in 1916, William McDonald married Jane Ellen White in Victoria.
On 2 May 1916, No 2306, Private William McDonald, embarked from Melbourne per HMAT Uganda A66, with the 16th Reinforcements for the 8th Light Horse Regiment, who were part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. His Next of Kin was then his wife, Mrs Jane Ellen McDonald of Yarraville.
After arriving in Egypt, Private McDonald was taken on strength with the 3rd Australian Light Horse Training Regiment on 8 June 1916. The regiment was then stationed at Tel-el-kebir.
On 1 July 1916 Private McDonald was transferred to the 11th Coy, Imperial Camel Corps (I.C.C.) at Abbassia (in Cairo, Egypt), and he remained with them until 10 November 1916.
On 5 November 1916, he was charged with neglecting to obey a Standing Order; namely removing part of his clothing and accoutrements on the outpost, while at Ras-el-Bagad. For that offence he forfeited seven days pay.
Between 11 November 1916 and 25 April 1917, he was a Private with the 3rd ANZAC Camel Battalion, Imperial Camel Corps (I.C.C.).
The 3rd were entirely Australians, recruited from Australian Infantry Battalions. They fought in the Western Desert of Egypt against pro-Turkish Senussi tribesmen until late in 1916, when they were transferred to the Sinai desert to fight in operations against the Turkish Army. There they fought alongside Australian Light Horse Regiments at Romani, Magdhaba and Rafa. Just after he was repatriated back to Australia, the I.C.C. suffered heavy losses during the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 April 1917.
On 11 November 1917, he was taken on strength with the 3rd ANZAC Battalion Imperial Camel Brigade E.E.F. (Egyptian Expeditionary Force).
On 16 December 1916, he reported to hospital as being sick. He was treated by the Scottish Field Ambulance at Ballah for pneumonia and then transferred to the 24th Stationary Hospital at Moascar. Two days later he was admitted to the No 14 Australian General Hospital in Cairo where he was diagnosed with Pneumonia.* After treatment, he was discharged to the Convalescent House at Abbissia on 8 January 1917 to complete his recovery.
Trooper McDonald was charged with an offence in Cairo on 13 February 1917. He was apprehended by Military Police after going absent without leave earlier in the day. The Military Police located him in an out of bounds location, namely a brothel in Cairo. His punishment was the loss of three days’ pay, and seven days confined to camp.
On 21 February 1917, Trooper McDonald was discharged from the No.14 Australian General Hospital, but readmitted three days later on 24 February 1917 with a urinary problem.
His condition was serious and it was decided that he would return to Australia for a rest. On 7 March 1917, he was discharged from the No 15 Australian General Hospital at Abbassia, and embarked from Suez per the Willochra, for Australia on the following day, 8 March 1917.
He arrived in Melbourne on 25 April 1917, and his record at the 3rd Military District states that he was suffering with Bilharziasis ** (Urinary). He was initially to return for a six-month change, but it was then decided that he would remained in Australia.
Then on 22 June 1917, Private McDonald was discharged as medically unfit from 3rd M.D. because due to his Bilharziasis.
After three months as a civilian, William McDonald answered the call and re-enlisted. He swore his oath at Melbourne on 5 September 1917 and was appointed to “A” Coy, 3rd District Guard. *** After undergoing medical tests at the Domain Camp, he was considered fit for Home Service. One month later however, he was discharged at his own request, on 2 October 1917.
Between 1916 and 1920 William McDonald and Jane Ellen McDonald had four children. They were:
- Jane Rose McDonald; Birth Registered at Footscray 29672/1916
- William George Henry McDonald; Birth Registered at Footscray 11484/1918
- Lindsay Thomas McDonald; Birth Registered at Footscray 27376/1919
- Frank McDonald; Birth Registered at Footscray 31443/1920]
William McDonald again re-enlisted in the A.I.F. on 28 April 1919. On his Attestation Paper he was required to sign a clause stating that “I am not a member of the Association known as the Industrial Workers of the World or of any other Association within the meaning of the Unlawful Association Act 1916/1918.” His medical examination considered him fit for Home Service only, and he was allocated the Service Number 82564.
Private McDonald then served with the 3rd District Guard at the Domain Camp from 29 April 1919, until 26 October 1919. He was then discharged as part of the demobilisation of the A.I.F.
According to the 1928 Victorian Electoral Roll, William McDonald was living at No. 46 Moore Street, Footscray, and he was working for the Victorian Railways. His wife Jane Ellen McDonald lived with him performing home duties.
Around 1931 the family had relocated to No. 8 Greig Street, Footscray South, and he was still working for the railway.
At the time of his early death in 1934, William McDonald was employed in the North Melbourne Locomotive Sheds.
Aged only 38 years, William McDonald died in his home at 46 Hotham Street West Footscray on 28 April 1934. After a funeral service at home, his remains were interred in the Footscray Cemetery on 30 April 1934.
The Argus, 30 April 1934, p.1.
Jane Ellen McDonald died at the age of 78 years, and was buried with her husband in the Footscray Cemetery.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal - received in 1921
- Victory Medal - received in 1922
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: “McDONALD, W.”
The name “McDonald – West Footscray” first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 20 February 1919, p.1.
Private William McDonald is mentioned in A distinctive 'wedge' in the West: a history of Kingsville until 1930 by Dr Emma Curtin and Tony Kelleher, p.56.
There were two William McDonald's from the Yarraville area, who served in WW1. This William McDonald, No.2306, and also William McDonald, No.1864. I believe that the name on the Shire of Werribee Oak Board is that of the first man, as he also had a connection to Laverton and the Queensville Estate.
“Trooper Wm McDonald, No.2306, 11th Coy, I.C.C. (8 L.H.), aged 20, Joined A.I.F. Dec 1915 at Melbourne, Victoria. Occupation – Ammunition worker. Reported sick on Oct 14 complaining of sharp pain in right chest on breathing. Pain caught his breath and bad cough. Spitting up quantity of phylum – red in colour. No shivering. Had been feeling off colour for a couple of weeks before reporting sick. Full feverish. Was treated in hospital at Kontara for two days. Herpitis Euplin in drip."
** Bilharziasis - A disease caused by infection with freshwater parasitic worms in certain tropical and subtropical countries. The fresh water becomes contaminated from infected animal or human urine or faeces. The parasites penetrate human skin to enter the bloodstream and migrate to the liver, intestines and other organs.
*** NEW REGIMENT FOR "UNFITS.''
Men previously rejected for military service previous to October, 1916, are requested to again present themselves for another medical examination, as men are required for the 3rd Military District Guardon home service. This unit is mobilized for the purpose of releasing eligible men for active service, and it will be composed entirely of men who have been rejected for military service abroad. Returned soldiers with good discharges are eligible for enlistment. Rates of pay are the same as in the A.I.F., and privileges of promotion the same, with the exception that the pay cannot exceed 9/- a day. All the men who volunteer will be accepted.
Geelong Advertiser, 15 December 1917, p.3.
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