Wilfred Ernest MCDONALD

Wilfred Ernest MCDONALD

W. Hilton Saunders, Ernest May, and Wilfred McDonald, at Dubbo, ca. Dec. 1915 (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

W. Hilton Saunders, Ernest May, and Wilfred McDonald, at Dubbo, ca. Dec. 1915 (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4858), Wilfred Ernest McDonald was born at Dubbo, N.S.W. He gave his age as 21 years and 1 month, his marital status as single, and his occupation as laborer. He claimed that he had no previous military service. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 6 ½ inches tall, weight 9 stone 2 lbs., with a fair complexion, greenish grey eyes, and fair hair. His religious denomination was Anglican. He completed his medical on the 8th October at Gilgandra before the beginning of the march.

He was one of the thirteen men who stepped forward and gave his name, ‘either to march under Captain Nicholas, or to come after harvest’, when the Coo-ees recruited in Wongarbon on 14th October 1915.[1] He was attested at Stuart Town on 19th October 1915.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Wongarbon, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, H. G. McDonald, Wongarbon, N.S.W.

Private McDonald departed Sydney on the HMAT Star of England on the 8th of March 1916. He arrived in Egypt on the 11th of April 1916. On the 16th of April 1916 he transferred to the 4th Division Artillery at Telelkebir. On the 27th May 1916 he was taken on strength of the 4th Division Ammunition Column.

On the 6th June 1916 Gunner McDonald left Alexandria aboard HMT Oriana, bound for France, arriving at Marseille on the 13th June 1916.

On the 25th June 1916 Gunner McDonald was transferred to the V4 Heavy Trench Mortar Battery.

On the 10th October 1916 Gunner McDonald was admitted to the 4th Australian Field Ambulance with conjunctivitis to his right eye. He was sent back to the 3rd Casualty Clearance station on the 11th October 1916 then to the 15th Casualty Clearance Station at Hazebrouck on the 12th October 1916. On the 20th October 1916 he was sent back to the 13th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne. On the 26th October 1916 Gunner McDonald was admitted to the 26th General Hospital at Etaples suffering a corneal ulcer. On the 10th November 1916 he was transferred to the 6th Convalescent Depot also at Etaples then on the 23rd November 1916 he was readmitted to the 26th General Hospital with Influenza. On the 27th November 1916 he was sent back to the 6th Convalescent Depot then on the 1st December 1916 he was transferred to the 5th Convalescent Depot at Cayeux. On the 22nd December 1916 Gunner McDonald rejoined his Unit.

On the 2nd of February 1917 Gunner McDonald was charged with ‘’Disobeying in such a manner as to show a wilful defiance of authority a lawful command given personally by his superior officer in the execution of his office’’. A Field General Court Martial was held on the 17th February 1917 where Gunner McDonald was found guilty. He was sentenced to Five years Penal Servitude. On the 25th February 1917 the sentence was suspended.

On the 3rd of May 1917 Gunner McDonald was with his unit occupying a position between Ecoust and Bullecourt in France, preparing to support an attack, when they came under heavy German artillery fire. The store of mortar bombs was struck during this bombardment and exploded, destroying all the battery weapons and equipment. A total of 9 men were killed, 14 were wounded, 8 suffered shell shock and 16 were reported Missing In Action. Gunner McDonald was amongst the missing. This status was later amended to Killed In Action. His name is listed on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial.

His name is also listed on the Dubbo War Memorial, and the Wongarbon Soldiers Memorial.

[1] ‘The Route March’, The Farmer and Settler, 19 October 1915, p. 3.

3 responses to “Wilfred Ernest MCDONALD

  1. Great Article On Wilfred Ernest McDonald 4858 , He was my great Uncle and it’s so good to see some recognition for these great Men . I have some old letters someone may be interested in ,and a Plaque from the Wongarbon Citizens , and the watch that was on his hand on the 3rd may , anyway thanks again .

    • Thank you for this information. It is great to get some feedback on the blog from family members. I would love to read what letters you have. If you are able to scan them and send them to my email cooeemarch1915@gmail.com that would be fantastic. If they are about/from Wilfred Ernest McDonald I could place a transcription/extract of them on the blog, if you would like to do this.

  2. Pingback: New Coo-ee March plinth unveiled at the Memorial Walk in Victoria Park near Dubbo War Memorial | Coo-ee March 2015 Reenactment

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