William Michael George was born at Castlemaine, Victoria. Prior to the war, he worked as a a farrier – a specialist in equine hoof care.
He enlisted on 11 October, 1915 at the age of 25 and joined the 5th Field Artillery Brigade, 1-5 Reinforcements as a gunner.
He embarked from Sydney on 15 January, 1916 on RMS Osterley. In his diary, he writes that there were 500 artillery and about 900 infantry on board, they got off at every port and had a good time. Once they arrived at Heliopolis, they had a big camp full of horses, mules and camels.
16 June 1916
Germans sent out gas last night. Called up at one in the morning and had to put our helmets on, a lot of Australians were gassed.
Have been Corporal since 14 April. My mate Harry Mathias was sent to hospital with a gash in neck on the 14th, kicked by a mule.
Expecting to leave this front shortly for a hotter front around Ypres. Aus artillery infantry doing good work round here.
The brigade fought at the Somme front, they began making their way on 10 July 1916. On June 23rd he wrote, …Our men captured 2 lines of trenches on the Somme. They fought for around three months until leaving on 5 September to go north. William continued fighting with his brigade up until late 1918 when he was injured.
He was ultimately discharged on 12 April, 1919 and disembarked for Australia.
Arrived at Sydney without any sickness on board and disembarked on Sunday 18th February at Woolloomooloo Warf where we were driven in motors to the Anzac buffet in the domain and got a great welcome home, was met at buffet by my Dear Mother… also got a great welcome home to Mortdale.
Got my discharge on 17th February and finished my 45 days leave on 12th April 1919… So endeth my adventures at the game they call soldering.
The last page of his diary he has written his total service times:
William was officially discharged on 12 April, 1919. It would not be long until he re-enlisted in the Second World War (15/10/1939).