William Mellkinch Anderson was born in 1892 at North Sydney.
His parents were Hugh (d 1896) & Elizabeth (nee Milhench. Hugh was born in Burra, South Australia. They were married in at St Leonards in 1889.
William was the 2nd of 3 children. He had 2 sisters. He was educated at Fort St High School. He did not marry.
William enlisted on 19 Jan 1915.
He stated occupation as clerk and address as Bennett Street, Neutral Bay.
He was short and slightly built being 5ft 6¾in (170cm) tall; weighed 125lb (57kg); chest 30-34in (76-86cm). He had moles on his back; a fair complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair; and was a Presbyterian.
William’s parents were deceased and he named his elder sister Myra as his next of kin.
He was assigned Service Number 1902 and attached to 5th Reinforcements for the 1st Battalion which was part of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division.
War Service: Gallipoli
In March William was promoted to Corporal and the 5th Reinforcements departed Sydney on HMAT Ceramic on 25 Jun 1915 for Egypt.
William joined 1st Bn on Gallipoli as a Private on 5 Aug, one day before the Battalion’s leading role in the attack on Lone Pine. On 10 Aug he was wounded with bomb fragments in both legs and admitted into hospital in Heliopolis on 17 Aug. He rejoined the Battalion on 31 Oct.
The Battalion was evacuated from Gallipolli Dec 1915 back to Egypt.
War Service: Western Front:
1st Battalion arrived in Marseilles, France on 28 Mar 1916. They first moved into the trenches 19 April near Armentieres in northern France with first battle casualties at Fromelles.
The Battalion’s first major battle was at Pozieres Jul16 (Casualties 107 killed, 48 missing, 400 wounded).
In Aug William was assigned to 1st Brigade Headquarters Intelligence Section as an Observer. 1st Brigade comprised 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Battalions plus support units. This would have been not only a desk job but also a highly dangerous role gathering enemy information on raids, etc.
1st Brigade was engaged in an attack in Pozieres area (Mouquet Farm) in late Aug with 640 casualties.
The Brigade then moved to Ypres in Belgium with service on the front line (Hill 60) during Sep.
In Oct they moved back to France to the Somme. They had stints in the front line in Nov & Dec with minor attacks.
It was a bitterly cold winter on the Somme in 1916 / 17 but William had some respite with 2 week’s leave in UK returning to France just before Christmas.
William rejoined 1st Battalion at the end of Mar which coincided with the pursuit of the Germans who had made a strategic withdrawal from the Somme back to the Hindenburg Line.
In late April William was promoted to Corporal & spent a week at Musketry School & rejoined the Battalion in the midst of the Battle of Bullecourt which was some of the heaviest fighting it saw during the War with 49 killed & 240 wounded.
The Battalion was then rested & William attended Command School in May & June.
After rebuilding numbers I September the Battalion with the rest of the AIF were then deployed back to Belgium where the 3rd Battle of Ypres had been in progress. 1st Bn entered the front on 13 Sep along the Menin Road. William was promoted to Temporary Sergeant 21 Sep & the Battalion was rested from the front line.
On 4 Oct 1917 there was an attack on Broodsiende Ridge at Passchendaele. The 1st Battalion committed approximately 500 men of whom 60 were killed, 196 wounded, & 43 missing. William was one of the wounded.
On 5 Oct he was admitted to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station (field hospital) with shrapnel wounds to the right thigh & foot. He died the following day and is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
(Click on map below for location of major events in Pte Anderson’s war including battles, wounding and burial.Exclamation marks Wounding – Red Cross marks Hospital – Blue Flag marks Burial.)
On 20 Oct SMH Roll of Honour notice stated:
“ANDERSON.-Died of wounds In France, on October 5, 1917, Corp. William M. Anderson, of Coo-Glen, Bennett-street, Neutral Bay, aged 25 years.”
William’s sister Myra was his next of kin and he named his Aunt / Foster Mother Jessie Campbell Anderson as the sole beneficiary in his will.
Jessie received a pension of 23 shillings per fortnight.
In May 1918 his family received his personal effects including note books, cards, photos & a pocket camera.
Jessie died in 1919 & was buried in Gore Hill Cemetery.
Myra did not marry & died in 1970.
William is also commemorated on the North Sydney Memorial at St Leonards Park.