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William Henry McCarthy. Image courtesy Margaret Purcell.

William Henry McCarthy.
Image courtesy Margaret Purcell.

William Henry McCarthy was living in Store Creek near Wellington when World War I was declared. 15-year-old William left his employment as a railway porter to enlist in November 1915, declaring his age to be 18. He embarked from Sydney in April 1916 and proceeded to France, where he served as private in 54th Battalion.

Private McCarthy was hospitalised several times during the war, suffering from trench foot in November 1916 and influenza in November 1918.

On 4 September 1918 William was recommended by his commanding officer, Lieutenant CW Harvey, for a Military Medal “for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations” at Peronne, France, on 1-2 September 1918. “When two companies were held up this man repeatedly carried messages through severe Machine Gun fire. Wounded early in the day, and a second time in the afternoon, he refused to leave his company continuing to carry his messages until utterly exhausted from loss of blood. A splendid example earning universal praise throughout the Battalion.” He was awarded the medal on 14 May 1919.

William returned to Australia in July 1919. He moved to Millthorpe where he met his future wife, Esther Bowd. The couple married and had ten children: two daughters and eight sons.

William served in the Volunteer Defence Corps during World War II. His eldest son, Ray, also served, and was mentioned in despatches.

William died in 1960, aged 60. His obituary in the Central Western Daily, 7 March 1960, describes him as “one of the best known identities of Millthorpe.”

William’s name appears on the Millthorpe War Memorial alongside that of his son, Ray.