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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 9871 24y 4 Aug 1915 23 Oct 1919 5

Private William Spottiswood (1891 - 1964)


Family background and early life

William Spottiswood was born in Brisbane on 3 March 1891, son of John Spottiswood and Isabella née Dodd.  His father John Spottiswood had travelled on the Southesk from Cumberland, England arriving in Brisbane on 1 August 1878.  He worked in the fuel trade in which he had had experience before coming to Australia.  For 57 years he either cut wood or loaded coal for Government House, commencing when Sir Arthur Kennedy was Governor.  Queensland's first Government House still stands and is located at Gardens Point in the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology at the end of George Street.  William’s mother Isabella had previously married Evan John Evans who died in 1886. William had two older brothers, Albert George and Charles, and four younger sisters, Lily, Ivy, Olive and Violet. 

The Spottiswood family lived at 539 Boundary Street in Spring Hill. William’s older brothers married and left home: Albert a drayman in 1908 and Charles a labourer in 1912. Lily a dressmaker and Ivy a milliner took part in amateur swimming carnivals, Lily representing Queensland.  When William was 13 years old his youngest sister Violet met with an accident at Gregory Terrace near College Road, not far from her home.  She received a compound fracture of her right arm and a dislocated elbow.  William’s other younger sister Olive died at the age of 14 in 1912.  William remained at home during these years, working as a carter.

Enlistment and service

He enlisted on 4 August 1915 at the age of 24 to serve in the Australian Infantry Force (AIF). Allotted service number 9871 and appointed to reinforcements for the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, Private Spottiswood commenced training at No 1 Depot Company, Australian Medical Corps. 

From 1 February 1916 his rank was driver but at various times during his war service he reverted to the rank of private.  His unit embarked from Sydney on 5 April 1916 on board HMAT1 Mashobra bound for Egypt where William Spottiswood was based throughout the war.  For the remainder of 1916 his field ambulance duties were at Tel el Kabir, El Malar, Hill 70 and Jomaid.

In June 1917 he was sick in hospitals at El Arish, Cairo and Abbassia suffering from deafness and varicocle, a form of varicose vein.  At the end of June when he was discharged from hospital he was transferred to the Australian Army Service Corps at Moascar.  Later in 1917 he was engaged in field ambulance work at Um-Urgan and Tel el Marakeb.  From February 1918 till July 1919 Private Spottiswood worked at the 14th Australian General Hospital at Port Said.  He embarked at Suez on HMAT Dunluce Castle for return to Australia and disembarked at Sydney on 30 August.  He was discharged from the Australian Army Medical Corps on 19 September 1919.

Post war

Back in civilian life and his home at Spring Hill, William Spottiswood resumed his work as a carter.  His sister Lilian married John Thomas McLennan in 1921. 

On 10 October 1925 William married Alice Mackenroth née Batchelor, the mother of two small children, Dorothy and Eric William. Sadly, Alice’s former husband had used a revolver to end his life in August 1924.  In a court hearing Alice told of Mackenroth’s excessive drinking and debt prior to his tragic death.  Alice was the youngest in a family of thirteen though four of them had died in infancy. William and Alice and the children settled in Somerset Street Windsor and William’s occupation was motor driver.  It might have been a new beginning for Alice and William Spottiswood but electoral rolls in following years indicate that William had returned to live with his parents at 539 Boundary Street before 1936 while Alice was living separately at addresses in Petrie Terrace and later at Bardon.

It would appear William Spottiswood maintained a close association with his parents.  Rev Percival Watson officiated at the marriage of his sister Ivy to Ernest Charles Smith in City Congregational Church in 1929.  After the death in 1933 of his youngest sister Violet aged 30 years, William remained with his ageing parents at 539 Boundary Street.  Mrs Isabella Spottiswood died in 1941.  His father John would have depended on William’s support in the family home till his death in 1944. William Spottiswood, labourer, continued to live there till about 1959.  


In his retirement he lived at 17 Tarana Street Camp Hill in the company of Phyllis Lily Spottiswood. He died on 25 August 1964.

1. His Majesty’s Australian Transport

• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1
• Australian War Memorial, embarkation rolls and unit histories
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
• Queensland Electoral Rolls, 1913 – 1963
• Year Books, Wharf Street Congregational Church, Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives
• Ancestry on-line
Telegraph, Brisbane, 20 May 1904, page 2
Queensland Figaro, 8 October 1912, page 14
Brisbane Courier, 23 October 1912, page 17
Queensland Figaro, 13 March 1913, page 7
Brisbane Courier, 18 August 1924, page 6
Telegraph, Brisbane, 25 October 1924, page 6
Brisbane Courier, 17 July 1933, page 10
Telegraph, Brisbane, 21 August 1944, page 6

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane, October 2016 ©



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