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Stirling Alexander McWilliam

Name on Board SA McWilliam
Name on Service
Records
Stirling Alexander  McWilliam
Enlistment Age 20
Occupation Duntroon Graduate
Place of Birth Williamstown, Vic
Next of Kin Capt. Alexander and Jessie McWilliam
Address Victoria St, Williamstown, Vic
Marital Status S
Enlistment Date 1/11/1914
Service No.
Enlistment Place Royal Military College, Duntroon, ACT
Embarkation Place Melbourne
Embarkation Date 11/02/1915
Embarkation Ship HMAT Karoo A10
Unit on Embarkation 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment
Date of Death 30/05/1915
Unit on Death 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment
Rank on Death Lieutenant
Cause of Death Died of Wounds
Place of Wounding/
Death
Walker's Ridge, Gallipoli. Exhumed from original grave at the dugout where he fell and reinterred
Cemetery or Memorial Walker's Ridge Cemetery, Gallipoli Peninsula, Canakkale Province, Turkey
0134 Lieut SA McWilliam v
Additional Information

Stirling McWilliam was the son of Captain Alexander and Jessie McWilliam of Victoria St, Williamstown.  He attended Williamstown Grammar School and Scotch College before entering Royal Military College, Duntroon with the second intake of cadets on 7 March 1912.

He was described by his superiors as the most capable instructor amongst the Staff College Cadets and was given the responsibility of training the 9th Light Horse Regiment’s non-commissioned officers.  General Bridges reportedly said ‘McWilliam is the type Duntroon will be proud of’.

Lieutenant Stirling Alexander McWilliam landed on Gallipoli with the 9th Light Horse Regiment on 21 May 1915 and nine days later he was dead; shot through the head while directing fire from his men.  He and his men had been in action for about four hours.

2nd Lieutenant Cameron of the 9th Light Horse Regiment wrote in his diary that Mr Mac, as he was called, was on the observation post when he turned and called to his men “’Stand to arms, Twelve hundred, Five Rounds – Oh God!” and fell back.  It just required the word ‘Fire’ to complete the order…The first officer of the 9th to go.  Poor Mac!’

In a letter to Captain and Mrs McWilliam, Lieutenant-Colonel Miell wrote ‘Your gallant son was…one of nature’s gentlemen.  He was loved and respected by all ranks and his death was a great loss to the regiment’.

Lieutenant-Colonel Miell wrote that their son was buried close to where he fell and a wooden cross was placed on his grave.  His service records note that he was buried in Reserve Trench at Walker’s Ridge.  Stirling’s mother was still searching for his grave in 1924 when she notified the military that she had a detailed map of the location sent to her by one of her son’s colleagues.  However when bodies were reinterred from Walker’s Ridge Cemetery in 1923, his grave was not identified and he was buried as ‘Unknown’.

His half-brother, John McWilliam, was killed in action on 11 August 1916 at Pozieres, France.

Additional References

Williamstown Chronicle, Saturday 24 July 1915, p2
ACT Memorial, Stirling Alexander McWilliam
Scotch College WW1 Commemorative Website

Hosken, Graeme, Editor: Digger, Magazine of the Families and Friends of the First AIF Inc, No 36, September 2011, p18 (article contributed by Kim Phillips, Spirits of Gallipoli)

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