Cousins from Boulia who went to war
Jacqueline Miller recently contacted us to share the story of her relatives - her Grandmother's cousins, who served in the First World War, and it is our privilege to share it with you.
William Alexander Lilley, a 24 year old labourer from Boulia, enlisted in Cloncurry on the 5 April 1916, as part of the 47th Battalion 5th Reinforcements. His cousins, brothers Patrick Joseph and James Ormonde, also enlisted in Cloncurry on the same day. On the 4 April 1916, the Townsville Daily Bulletin listed William as one of several Boulia recruits recently departed for Cloncurry for final examinations.
William’s war was tragically short. He arrived in England on 9 December 1916, but on 26 December he was admitted to the Fargo Military Hospital, seriously ill with pneumonia. He died on the 2 January 1917. When his mother received both a Xmas Card and a letter from William postmarked 3 January 1917, she thought a mistake had been made in advising her of his death. She had heard of a recent occurrence in Townsville, where a mother had been erroneously advised of her son's passing, and she hoped that William too was still alive. William never returned home, and is buried in a cemetery in Durrington, Wiltshire, England. The Roll of Honour published on page 7 of the Brisbane Telegraph on 18 January 1917 listed William as 'Died of Illness'.
William’s cousin Patrick Joseph Ormonde, a stockman also born in Boulia, was just 18 years old when he enlisted on 5 April 1916. Along with his brother James, he served in the 9th Battalion 20th Reinforcements, and went to the Western Front. Patrick had just turned 20 when reported as missing in action after an engagement at Polygon Wood, Belgium on 20 September 1917. A Court of Enquiry on 8 April 1918 determined that he was killed in action. A fellow solder provided testimony to say that he saw Patrick when they were going into action. When they came out, Patrick was not with them. The soldier's mates told him that Patrick had been killed.
Patrick’s brother James Ormonde , also a stockman, was born in Muckunda, near Boulia and was 20 when he enlisted in 9th Battalion. After suffering trench foot in France, James was wounded in action in Ypres, Belgium on the 1 October 1917, and evacuated with a shell injury to his left forearm. Just 19 days later his brother Patrick was killed in action.
James’ father sent a number of telegrams, trying to establish whether or not he was seriously injured and when he would return home. His arm made only limited improvement , and he was declared unfit for the trenches but fit for home service. Eventually, he arrived back in Queensland in 1919, and passed away in 1974.
Thanks to Jacqueline Miller for sharing the story of her relatives. If you have a Queensland First World War story to share, State Library would like to hear from you.