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William Oaklands MELLOR

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 50665 11 Feb 1899 18y6m 22 Aug 1917 17 Jul 1920 6

Private William Oaklands Mellor (1899 - 1983)


Family background and early life

William Oaklands Mellor was born in Brisbane on 11 February 1899, only son of William Duncan Mellor and Amy Blanche née Clark.  William had two younger sisters, Amy Vera and Evelyn Louise.  The family lived at Southport in 1903 where William’s father was a newspaper proprietor.

In 1913 they were living at Fortitude Valley and his father’s occupation was printer.  In November 1914, William’s mother died and his father (William Duncan Mellor, then a compositor) and his sisters moved to live at Riverview Terrace, Toowong.

The Mellor family had been connected with the Wharf Street Congregational Church since the 1870s.  The family was also linked to a property known as Oaklands in the Caboolture district, left to them by William’s grandfather, Captain Edmond Mellor, a ship’s captain, who died in 1879.

Enlistment and service

In his youth prior to the outbreak of war and in the early years of the Great War, Naval Cadet William Mellor was an active member for a period of four years in the Social Service Institute Naval Cadet Corps. He enlisted however in the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) on 22 August 1917 at Brisbane when he was 18 years and 2 months old.

He could not have enlisted earlier because of his age but he had also received a letter informing him that “no naval cadet shall enlist in the Military Australian Imperial Forces for active service without the written consent of the District Officer.”2

Soon after his successful application for enlistment, Private W. O. Mellor was presented with an inscribed wristlet watch at a ceremony in the institute drill room by Commander Weatherill on behalf of the naval corps.  They referred to Private Mellor’s long connection with the corps and congratulated him upon his decision to do his bit, an example he was sure every institute boy would follow if old enough.

As he was under 19 years of age, his parents were requested to give their consent too.  His father, then a widower, signed the statement on 22 August 1917, “This consent is given strictly on the understanding the applicant will not leave Australia for the front until he attains the age of nineteen years.”   Bill Mellor’s attestation paper showed his father at Oaklands, Riverview Terrace, Toowong as next-of-kin.

Bill was given regimental number 50665 and allotted to 15th Battalion. In his reserve unit before departure from Brisbane William Mellor served as temporary corporal from 30 January to 12 February 1918, travelled by train in early May to Liverpool, New South Wales and embarked from Sydney on the ship HMAT1 Osterley on 8 May.

For the voyage only, Bill Mellor served as sergeant and arrived at Liverpool England on 10 July 1918. While posted at 9th Training Battalion at Fovant, he reverted to the rank of private and spent time in hospital on two occasions at Hurdcott in England.

In October 1918 he was given an assignment in France where he was attached as an acting corporal to the Australian Infantry Base Depot at Rouelles.  In 1919 Private William Mellor served in the Graves Registration Detachment till his return to Australia per the ship Plassy. He was discharged from the AIF on 17 July 1920.

Post war  

William Mellor continued his military involvement after the war.  During 1923 and 1924 he was a member of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment Citizen Forces while residing on his property in the Nambour and Woombye district and attending military camps, parades and courses.  At the beginning of 1925 he was appointed to the Australian Instructional Corps and was stationed at Toowoomba where he served as a warrant officer and later lieutenant.

Marriage and career

At All Saints’ Church of England, Clifton on 12 January 1929 Mr William O. Mellor married Miss Ethel Elsie Grimes, the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs C. H. Grimes of Clifton.  Rev. Padre Ramsay officiated.  In the 1930s the couple lived at West Street, Toowoomba where William Mellor’s occupation was drill instructor.

William Mellor tried fruit farming at Cleveland in the early 1940s.  He and his wife lived at Island Street and William Mellor again took a keen interest in military activities.  W. O. Mellor was made leader and instructor of the Voluntary Defence Corps in June 1940 but ill-health prevented him from continuing this work after 1944.  

A foundation member of his Cleveland platoon, he was held in high regard by all his men.  A returned serviceman wrote: 

“Mr Mellor’s devotion to duty even though he suffered ill-health was an example to the rest of the platoon. Mr Mellor often carried a parade to a successful dismissal even though all the time he was in acute pain. No wonder Cleveland platoon stuck through the trying months of organisation when they had such men to lead them.”  (Gnr Andrews B. G. (Ed), The Birth of the VDC, On Target, 1944.)

In the late 1940s, Mr and Mrs Mellor lived in William’s old family home Oaklands at 22 Riverview Terrace, Toowong.  They spent nearly three decades at their final address at 47 Orion Street, Coorparoo.  


William Mellor died on 6 April 1982, aged 83 and is buried at the Pinnaroo Lawn Cemetery and Crematorium, Bridgeman Downs, Queensland. His widow had reached the age of 91 when she died at Terranora, New South Wales on 21 December 1998.

1. His Majesty’s Australian Transport
2. Letter, Lieut J Rogers RAN to Naval Cadet W Mellor, dated 8 Feb 1916

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1 and Post World War 1
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
• Fryer Library, University of Queensland, Papers of Captain W (William) O (Oaklands) Mellor, 1886 – 1945
• Ancestry, on line
• Wharf Street Congregational Church Year Books, Archives, Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane
• Andrews, Gnr B. G. (Ed), On Target, Volume 1, No 8, The Birth of the VDC (Fanning the Flames in Cleveland), 10 Nov 1944, pages 1 and 2
• Andrews, Gnr B. G. (Ed), On Target, Vol 1, No 9, 11 June 1945, page 2
Brisbane Courier, 28 September 1917, page 8; 1 April, 1932, page 13; 1 February 1929, page 18
The Daily Mail, 28 September 1917, page 6
Warwick Daily News, 1 February 1929, page 3
The Osterley Silence, No 1, Sat 1 June 1918, published at sea
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1925 – 1980
• John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland – cited images

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  July 2016.   Edits and additions by Miriam King, April 2023 ©



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