Sawmill hand Neil McKillop was among the British expatriates working in the timber town of Canungra who answered the call for King and Country, serving as Australians during the Great War.
Born at Grimsay in Scotland’s outer Hebrides, Neil was 26 years old when he joined up in Brisbane on August 13, 1915, naming his mother, who was still living on the island, as his next of kin.
He left Australia with the 10th reinforcements of the 15th Battalion on the Warilda from Brisbane on October 5, bound for the Middle East.
After the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula in December and the return of the troops to Egypt, the 15th Battalion was split and its men used to form the 47th Battalion from new recruits and Gallipoli veterans.
Private McKillop was among the new recruits transferred to the 47th Battalion shortly after it was raised in Egypt in February, 1916, joining the battalion at Tel el Kebir on March 3.
After further training in Egypt, he left for France on the Caledonia as part of the British Expeditionary Force from Alexandria on June 2, arriving in Marseilles a week later.
The battalion went into the trenches of the Western Front on July 3, with its first major action of the war the Battle of Pozieres between July 23 and August 7. The small Somme Valley village was the scene of bitter fighting and within a few weeks Australia had lost as many men at Pozieres as it had during the entire eight-month Gallipoli campaign.
Between August 1916 and March 1917, the 47th Battalion alternated between manning the trenches and training and resting behind the lines. It took part in the failed attack at Bullecourt in April before Belgium – Messines and Passchendale – became the focus of its operations.
Suffering a gunshot wound to the back during the Battle of Messines on June 7, 1917, Neil was out of action for the rest of the war.
He arrived at Weymouth in England on August 17 and on September 27 boarded the Suevic to return to Australia.
Arriving at Melbourne on November 18, Neil travelled overland to Brisbane. He was discharged as medically unfit not, as might be expected a result of his gunshot wound, but with defective vision, on January 4, 1918.