William McGhie

1896 - 1959

William McGhie

William McGhie

Wedding photograph of William McGhie 1921

Catherine and James McGhie

Parents Catherine and James McGhie

Day Dawn 1904
Day Dawn 1904

William McGhie boxing

McGhie wine bar

Father's consent

William McGhie WW1

Left to right

William McGhie
A. Charleston
S. Dixon
J. Carroll

I don't know of the others in the photograph but my Grandfather sure looks young.


William on left

The photograph was taken during WW1 and is somewhere in Palestine. It was taken by Richard Goldsmith Hummerston and is one of over 700 photographs taken during WW1. My Grandfather and R. G. Hummerston did know each other during WW1 and I tracked the photograph down from his Son Peter. This is the only photograph that I found in the large collection that has the name McGhie against a soldier.  I do not recognize him in the photograph but with the hat on it is difficult to tell.

How I came across the connection to the photographic collection was from a newspaper article in the "Listening Post" of June 1959, that my Father had with his photographs.  My grandfather died a few months earlier.

The article was a eulogy from one of his mates who served with my Grandfather during WW1.

Vale, Billy McGhie!

I've just received a note to say another pal has passed away.
An old mate I will ne'er forget in memory still I see him yet.
One of the 10th, and 3rd M.G. was known to all, young Billie McGhie
On early morning's first parade was always last to make the grade.
Boots unlaced, and trousers too, a shock of thick black hair he grew.
A harder case you'd seldom see, popular too, young Billie McGhie.
A dinkum lad, and a devil may care, a bit of a snag in the hempen square.
He'd never bully, he'd never bluff, he'd take them on tho' big and tough.
Would tip the scales at 11st. 3 - of fine physique, was Billie McGhie.
He had no time for guns and war, and never liked the Provost Corps.
With him one time on Cairo leave, a chap with M.P. on his sleeve was taking a lad to Kast-el-nil. Bill said: "Yes, like hell you will; Leave him here, he's jake with me." (I guess he'd heard of Billie McGhie).
On long night rides 'cross Sinai (where many of our cobbers lie).
At Gaza, on that April morn, they opened fire at crack of dawn.
Some sound advice, he gave to me, calm, and cool, young Billie McGhie.
He transferred to the "Divvy train" and aften scrounged a bag of grain.
Scran was scarce for man and beast )a tough old joint that Middle East).
He often brought our troop "buckshee" - a generous lad was Billie McGhie.
When at last the job was done (they told us, then, the war we'd won).
We "handed in" our horse and pack, talked of home when we got back.
Before we got back to Tripoli, I said "Goodbye" to Billie McGhie.
Later on in '24, I met old Bill McGhie once more.
He went back West, then I was told, Wiluna way in quest of gold.
Then later on in '43, back to war went Bill McGhie.
He told me this, two years ago, when to the West I chanced to go.
A lot of my mates I saw, "remnants" of the '14 war;
Old boys of the 3rd M.G., and on parade old Bill McGhie.
Not quite the Bill I used to know; his steep was halt, his movement slow;
Eyes, no longer keen and bright, his jet black hair was streaked with white;
Not half the man he used to be, but time, alas, was running out.
And when I gripped him by the hand, and bade farewell to Groper Land, little did I guess 'twould be my last "Goodbye" to Billie McGhie.
As the days and nights pass on, we think of those old mates who've gone.
Old Tony, Vid, Jack and Ted, Howard Smith, old Alf and Fred.
In the great VALHALLA, they will be, to answer REVEILLE with Bill McGhie.

The McGhie eyebrows

The only photograph I have of my Grandfather boxing. In this close up of that photograph it shows the McGhie eyebrow, which is black and thick. This photograph was with my Father's collection.

I don't know how many fights my Grandfather fought in, but it appears from the newspaper articles the fights took place mainly in Geraldton, and were in the early 1920's, around the time he married. He was still boxing in 1925.

William and Margaret McGhie wedding day

wedding news

Geraldton electrol roll

1925 Geraldton Electoral Roll

Grandmother with children

My Father Bill, his mother Margaret and Carmel, Dad's sister.


Dongara bakery about 1955
Family photograph of Dongara bakery about 1955

Dongara Flour Mill
Dongara Flour Mill 1920s
Built in 1894 and closed down in 1935

Dongara Flour Mill about 1955
Family photograph of Dongara flour mill taken about 1955

Wiluna 1936
Wiluna 1936

William McGhie 1940
William McGhie newspaper photograph early 1940

William McGhie army enlistment photograph
Army enlistment photographs April 1940

William McGhie Election notice

William Mcghie on War time morale
I only knew my Grand Father until the age of 10, when he died. I knew little of him, as he had separated from my Grand Mother after only a few years of marriage.

We never, to my knowledge, visited him, but he would catch the bus out to our home in Como for Sunday dinner. I don't know how often this was but I do remember, with my brother Max, waiting for him to get off the bus on Canning Highway and walk the short distance to our house in Roberts Street. He lived at this time, at 6 Leonard street, Victoria Park. I only discovered where he lived during his final years, of recent times.

I have a faint memory that he walked slightly strangely. It is just that, a faint memory, as that was how I could recognize him at a glance. Whatever the walking problem was or was not it was slight.

While waiting for my Mother to carve up the Sunday roast he would say to her "you sure are beautiful".

"Begone run to your houses"

After lunch he would site Max and myself down on the floor, while he sat in a lounge chair and would try to get us to repeat, "begone run to your houses, fall on your knees....". It is part of a play by Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
. I did not know that then and to this day will never know why he was so insistent that his Grandsons learn and repeat it back to him.

My Father told me little about my Grandfather and our family history. Now at the age of 60 plus I have started to research my family history and have discovered a lot in a short time, perhaps more than my Father knew, but in particular about my Grandfather William McGhie. He did not have a middle name. I have few photographs of him, as what was left by my Father contained little of my Grandfather's. What I have discovered has required a lot of digging and hopefully it is correct.

Born 1896

He was Born 1896 in Stawell Victoria to parents James and Catherine McGhie. His father James came to the gold fields in Western Australia with his brother John by camel train. William came with  his mother and brother, James and his sister Helena by ship in 189? I don't know the exact date or the name of the ship and if it was steam or sailing ship, but it would have been an adventure across the Great Australian Bight, if that was the way the ship sailed.

They must have set up residence in the Geraldton area, as two brothers were born there, Harold in 1898 and Arnold in 1900 at Day Dawn just South of Cue, which is desert country.


Gold is my guess why the family came to Western Australia, as they have residences in various gold mining areas for many years.

William McGhie worked as a flour miller and a miner in his adult life. Places like Wiluna and Gwalia appear in my Grandfather's history. What a place to live and work. Hot desert country, miles from anywhere.


William McGhie was also an professional boxer of some note. Several of his fights are recorded in newspaper articles in the Geraldton area.

William McGhie boxing
On the back of the photograph "Won by K.O. 4 rounds"

The photograph above was with my Father's possessions that I inherited. Dad never showed me his photograph collection, so when he died I was left with a couple of hundred photographs, most of the people in them I did not know. However with research some of the people are being identified.

I'm fairly sure the boxer on the left is my Grandfather as he was slightly built and a close up of the photograph shows the heavy dark McGhie eyebrows.

Much of what I have discovered about my Grandfather has come from the Trove newspaper site on the Internet. Many old Australian newspapers have been put on line and in years gone by, the newspaper was where many family events were recorded.

William McGhie features often in the newspapers of the day, even the odd disordily charge. This must be him as he was 43 in 1939 and he was a miner. Note the fine was not great 1 pound or 1 shilling, not sure what the 1/ is.

However I have jumped ahead a little in time in order to introduce my Grandfather. Perhaps the most significant event in his life was his service in WW1

WW1 1914 - 1918

William McGhie (SN 1109) and his 3 brothers all fought in WW1. And would you believe also in WW2. All survived but for William's brother James who died in WW2.

William McGhie joined the army on the 12th of March 1915 at the age of 19 years and 6 months in Geraldton. Father's hand written consent left. He returned to Australia, 15 November 1918.

The photograph on the left below is difficult to date. It is a studio picture and William seated on left looks every bit 19, but the words on the back tell of experiences that is easy to assume were a result of war. So some where between 1915 and 1918 the photograph was taken. Perhaps the words were added later.

Words on back of photo

I accessed my Grandfather's war records on line, and the information has provided a great amount of detail about him.

At enlistment he was
5' 9" tall
weighed 144 pounds
Eyes dark brown
hair black
and of dark complexion with a

small scar on the outside of his left calf

His war records are of considerable detail. However much of it is in army speak and difficult to decipher.

My Grandfather was in the 3rd Brigade Gun Squadron & 10th Light Horse Regiment (1 to 14 Reinforcements) and did move from one to the other from time to time.

He embarked on the 30th of June 1915 on board the Kanowna for the Gallipoli Peninsula and arrived on the 25th of October 1915. I know the mounted horse forces on Gallipoli were not suited due to the hilly nature of the terrain.

He left Gallipoli for Alexandria and arrived on the 26th of December 1915.

Illness such as Dysentery, Bronchitis, Gastritis and Diarrhoea feature often on his service records. My Grandfather also contracted a serious disease called, Bilhariziosis, which is a parasite that gets into your body from a water snail. The snail is present in many water areas throughout Egypt. I have a vague memory that my Father told me this. There was no successful treatment until the 1970s, so my Grandfather most likely had the disease all his life. What treatments were available before 1970 could be harmful and even life threatening.

However I obtained my Grandfather's Death Certificate and he did not appear to have died from the disease, but of heart disease.

My Grandfather's WW1 records show the locations he was stationed at in Egypt.

Disembarked in Alexandria from Gallipoli   26-12-1915
Heliopolis        6-3-1916    (Cairo)
Tel-el-Kabir    23-7-1916  (40km North of Cairo)
Bally Bunion   25-7-1916
Hod-el Fatir     23-8-1916   (80km East of Port Said) above
El Malar           3-11-1916
El Burg             3-3-1917
MaSaid            3-3-1917

Embarked Egypt, invalid with bronchitis to Australia (Port Darwin) 15-11-1918.

My Grandfather must have moved back to Geraldton after the war as this is where he married my Grandmother. However before he married this is where his boxing career was reported in newspapers and continued during his early marriage.

With my Father's photographic collection were newspaper cuttings of boxing matches that my Grandfather fought in. He was fighting in the year he married, so my Grandmother knew him as a boxer.

McGhie boxing O'Leary
From my Father's newspaper cuttings

William McGhie boxing 1921
William McGhie boxing 1921

Marriage to Margaret Amy Renardson

My grandfather and Grandmother married in 1921 in Geraldton Western Australia.

William & Margaret's wedding
William and Margaret wedding photograph 1921

Honeymoon in Perth

Tracing out where they lived has been partly successful. By using the Electoral roll, they lived their early life in Marine Tce Geraldton, perhaps with Margaret's parents who also are shown as living in Marine Tce. There is no street address recorded. William's brother, Arnold Richard McGhie also lived in Geraldton at the same time at Urch street, but once again no street number.

In the electoral roll, William is shown as being a Miller and his brother Arnold as a laborer.

Margaret's father was a confectioner as shown in the electoral roll. The Reynardson's (my Grandmother's maiden name) lived for much of Margaret's early life in Collie.


William and Margaret had two children, William Edward (my father) and Carmel Lena. William  Edward was born in 1922 and Carmel Lena in 1923.

At this point I know little of their childhood, but from newspaper accounts of the time, they separated in 1927. However they may not have been living together for some time, as my grandfather was working in Dongara and my grandmother was living in Geraldton. They did not actually divorce until 1940.

Children Bill and Carmel 1925

Photograph taken in Geraldton near the beach with what was the old railway station behind on the left on the Southern end of town. The second story was added after the building was no longer the railway stations, as a new one had been built on the Northern end of town.

The House Fire

As I have said my Father told me little about our family history, however one visit with him over dinner, he mentioned, "oh that was when the house burnt down". (see below Dongara Bakery)

Now you would have to ask more and he said both Carmel (his sister) and himself, stood outside on the road, in the dark, while the the house in Dongara burnt down. His Father was a baker then and the bakehouse was part of the house they were living in, and my Grandfather had knocked over an oil lamp and the house burnt down.
There was little or no fire brigade in Dongara in the 1920s, so little could be done. The Bakery is in Dongara town and the Dongara Flour mill is on the out skirts of Dongara.

From the above newspaper article in the Geraldton Guardian, my father was 5 and his sister Carmel 4 when the house and bakery burnt down.

Dongara Bakery

For a time my Grandfather worked at the Dongara Bakery. The only direct knowledge I have of this is the brief mention by my Father that their house burnt down during the night, and Dad and his sister Carmel stood on the road, while their house, which was attached to the bakery, burnt down.

Dad's father had knocked over an oil lamp while baking bread and the house and bakery burnt down. However having been there I think that some of the building was not destroyed, as part of it is made of thick stone walls, and they are still there.

When this happened, at a guess, mid to late 1920s as Dad, Carmel and their mother moved to Perth around 1930.

The photograph of the bakery was taken after the fire as there is electricity attached, which was not when the fire happened, hence the oil lamp.


My Grandfather had many jobs.

Flour Miller
Hotel steward

He even stood for Federal Parliament.

Based on the 1925 Electoral Roll, my Grandfather and Grandmother were living together in Geraldton in 1925, 4 years after their marriage. William was a flour miller, and most probably worked for the Victoria Flour Mill Company.

Flour Miller

I know one thing Dad did mention often in our early days was the Dongara Flour Mill and that his Father had worked there. You pass the Flour Mill just North East of Dongara as you drive towards Geraldton.

It appears my Grandfather had two different jobs in Dongara, the bakery job and the flour milling job. Which came first I do not know. Perhaps he did both jobs at the same time.

Further research using Trove shows my Grandfather was a miller foreman and worked in the flour milling in Dongara (and perhaps Geraldton) for 10 years from about 1920 to 1930.

Tracing My Grandfather

With little direct knowledge of my Grandfather, it has proved difficult to fill in large gaps in his life. By using the Electoral roll some points in time can be established.

1896 born in Stawell in Victoria
1899 moved to Geraldton
1921 married in Geraldton
Worked in Geraldton and Dongara for several years
1925 living in Geraldton with his wife Margaret
1927 William and Margaret had separated
1936 living in Wiluna
1937 living in Wiluna


Wiluna appears to have been where my Grandfather lived and worked for a considerable time. The first piece of information is his residence in the electoral roll of 1936. He is shown as living at 8 Delphi St Perth in 1941, which may have been due to his service in WW2. He then moved back to Wiluna during 1943 and worked as a Steward at the Lakeway Hotel in Wiluna.

Service number WX1977

My Grandfather not only served in WW1 but also WW2. The photograph left was printed in West Australian newspapers, along with his other 3 brothers, all of who served in WW1 & WW2.

The photograph, most likely taken during the early 1940s, is the latest photograph I have of him, along with the one at the top of the page.

Having obtained my Grand Father's WW2 service records I can now fill in his time in the army.

He enlisted in Kalgoorlie on the 7th of April 1940. His date of birth is shown as the 1st of September 1905, which is incorrect. He must have done this so he could join up. His date of birth was 1896. He also said no to having previous service. This must have been to prevent any check on his real age.

Federal Parliament

By 1943 he had returned to Australia and was living in Wiluna at the Lake Way Hotel. He stood for Federal Parliament as an Independent.

William McGhie election pledge
This can be found in several WA newspapers dated October 1941


Of Lounge Lizards and problems in Australia during WW2

On my Grandfather's return from WW2 he was not happy with how those back home in Australia were going about their daily lives, as the newspaper article on the left reads.

He appears to have forgotten the incident below in 1939

Wine bar report

I only discovered that he had stood for Federal Parliament from reading the Trove Newspaper site. As I have said, little was passed on from my Father about his Father.

William McGhie election results

My Grandfather only received 463 of the 35,746 enrolled voters votes, as reported above.