William John O’Leary

William John O’Leary

William John O'LearyWilliam was 18 years old and working as a porter when he enlisted in April 1915. He grew up in the Deloraine area but was living in Ross with his legal guardians, his sister and her husband, Police Trooper Barker, who was stationed at Ross at the time.

William arrived on the Gallipoli peninsula late in the campaign but was soon hospitalised with dysentery. He arrived in France in June 1916. In September he was treated for shell shock and in October he was treated in England for appendicitis. It appears that he then remained in England, serving in several units.

In May 1918, he married Gladys Wilton before returning to Australia in 1919 to settle in Melbourne. William and Gladys divorced in 1926 and William moved to Bondi in Sydney and married Margaret. In 1939, William was working as a salesman when he again enlisted. However, he was not considered physically fit enough to serve.

This image shows William’s signature from his enlistment papers.

William’s story is part of our exhibition: Our Grateful Thanks and Loving Remembrance, a moving and deeply personal exhibition remembering the soldiers whose names are immortalised on the Ross War Memorial.