Wagga's World War I soldiers in profile, July 15, 2017

John Alexander McGilvray with some military mates.

John Alexander McGilvray with some military mates.

Name: John Alexander McGilvray

Date of birth: November 25, 1890

Place of birth: Wareek, Victoria

Link to Wagga: Hometown

Date of enlistment: October 3, 1916

Age at enlistment: 25 years 11 months

Occupation: Motor mechanic

Religion: Presbyterian

Next of kin: Father, James McGilvray, Shepherd’s Siding

Battalion or Regiment: 13th Battalion, 23rd Reinforcement

Battlefields: France

Outcome: Returned to Australia, ‘Chemnitz’, July 7, 1919

John Alexander McGilvray (known as Alexander or Alex) was one of eight children born to James and Agnes Jane (nee Neyland) of ‘The Pines’, Shepherd’s Siding (Wagga).  A motor mechanic by trade, he was part owner of the Tumbarumba Motor Service. 

There are two different records of Alex’s marriage – the first, taken from the McGilvray family bible has his marriage to Harriet Rae Victoria (‘Rae’) Hansen taking place on October 17, 1916, shortly after he enlisted (aged 25), at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Wagga. The register of BDM records his marriage occurring in 1922, when he was 32 years old.

Alex embarked from Sydney on HMAT A72 ‘Beltana’ on November 25, 1916.  Shortly after arriving in England (February 1917), he was admitted to the Group Hospital at Codford (south of Salisbury Plain) having contracted mumps (possibly during the voyage from Australia).   

He proceeded overseas to France from Folkestone in April 1917, and was appointed Lance Corporal two months later.  He was wounded in action on July 4, 1918 – with a shell (or shrapnel) wound to his cheek and right hand.  Alex must have been an able soldier, as he was promoted to Temporary Corporal in September 1918 and to Sergeant in November 1918.      

On October 15, 1918, Alex had his photograph taken with three of his mates from the 13th Battalion – Corporal Albert Leslie McInnes, Corporal Alfred Stanley Cork and Sergeant Joseph Henry Duncan, MM. On the back of the postcard which he sent to his mother, he wrote ‘A rough sketch of our dials and I will get some more later of some more of my mates.  We are doing well as you will see. Love to all, Alex.’

Alex returned to Australia aboard the ‘Chemnitz’ in July 1919. By 1923 his residential address was at Brucedale.  Alex and Rae had a daughter, Joyce.

Alex passed away at Laverton, Victoria on March 31, 1945, aged 54.  


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