William McPhillips was a 28 year old baker when he volunteered for enlistment in October 1914 enlisting in Victoria and being allotted to the 10th Battalion. He was not with the battalion when it went ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as he was still back in Cairo. It is entirely possible that it had already been determined that he was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease and was marked down for return to Australia and for discharge after treatment.
Despite the inauspicious circumstances of his return to Australia and not to be dissuaded from showing that he was willing to serve his country, he volunteered again in February 1917, this time in Hobart. Before he could be passed fit though, he needed to have some dental work which meant that it was not until September 1917 that he was passed it and accepted into the A.I.F.
After this things moved fairly quickly and by the end of October he was on board HMAT Aeneas bound for England along with other 9th reinforcements for the 40th Battalion. But before he could reach England, Private McPhillips found himself in trouble – being charged with conduct prejudice to the good order and military discipline. As a result he lost five day’s pay. Whilst in camp in England he absented himself and was ‘crimed’ resulting in the loss of two more day’s pay.
At the beginning of April 1918 he departed England for Calais. He spent three days at Rouelles before joining the 40th Battalion. The battalion had suffered heavy losses over recent weeks whilst in action near Heilly. Private McPhillips, along with 33 other ordinary ranks were taken on strength with the battalion on 21 April while the battalion was at Buire. The following day the battalion left for Ribemont where the men not involved in manning the batteries were working on trenches, tunnels or other duties.
According to all accounts, 4 May was a quiet day near Buire with the men out on a working party digging trenches. Just what happened is unclear, but Private William McPhillips was wounded sustaining a gunshot wound to his left arm fracturing his humerus. He was taken to the 61″ Casualty Clearing Station by the 11th Australian Field Ambulance and then to the Royal Victoria Hospital, England. After a period of in the No.2 Convalescent Depot the decision was made for him to be returned to Australia for discharge. He returned to Australia in January 1919 but was not officially discharged from the service until October 1920.
On 28 June 1920 he married Mary Margison at st. John’s Church, Launceston. It appears that the couple did not have any children but was a much loved uncle.
After the war William McPhillips worked as a labourer. Just when he gave up being a baker is unclear. He had spent some time living on the West Coast after returning in 1915 and before enlisting again in 1917. In 1943 Wliiam and Mary were living at Sandfly. William died on 10 July 1969 aged 83 years at the Repatriation General Hospital.
William died at the Repatriation General Hospital on 10 July 1969 aged 83 years.