Joy Phillips shares the story of her father’s uncle, William James Kilpatrick.
William James Kilpatrick enlisted in Melbourne soon after Australia declared war on 1 October 1914. He was 34 years of age and was not married. His service number was 1147, and the unit he belonged to was the AIF 7th Battalion A Company.
William left Melbourne on 22 December 1914 on board the HMAT Themistocles for Egypt, where he spent three months training with his battalion. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
The 7th Battalion was part of the second wave of troops to land on the first day of fighting. How terrible it must have been to have had to wade past other Australian soldiers who were lying dead or wounded.
William received gunshot wounds to his hip and back and was transferred back by hospital ship to the 17th General Hospital at Alexandria, Egypt on 1 May 1915. He was operated on but the doctors were unable to remove all the gunshot pieces. He spent time at the convalescent camp at Mustapha.
He was transported back to Australia on the HS Ballarat on 28 June 1915, and was discharged as medically unfit on 12 April 1916. He carried the pieces of gunshot in his back for the rest of his life.
He received the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914–1915 Star. He died in 1962, aged 82 years.
I remember William as a gentle old man who loved horses. In later life, when recovered from his wounds, he drove the famous Clydesdales horses for Carlton United Brewery. Our family was always very proud of uncle Bill and the fact that he fought at Gallipoli.
After his return to Australia, William wrote to the Port Melbourne Standard newspaper on 28 August 1915. This is a section from correspondence that William wrote regarding comforts for soldiers:
“I left Victoria last December, trained in Egypt for three months, took part in the fight at Ismailah, was with the landing party at Gaba Tepe on 25th April, returned wounded to Egypt and at neither of these places did I or any of my mates have to pay for a single thing, everything we received was free.”