William Reuben McCready Nicklin
Service number 53067

It was on the last day of the war that Private William Nicklin finally joined his battalion in the field in France.

He had enlisted on December 3, 1917, but after training in Australia and then England, and following numerous admissions to the training camp hospital, it was November 7, 1918, before he made it to the front.

On November 10, William was taken on strength of the 41st Battalion, which was out of the line, having fought its last major action of the war with the Americans at St Quentin Canal in early October.

Next day, the war ended, with the Armistice taking effect from 11am on November 11.

A forester working in the Canungra district, William was 20 years and 10 months old when he enlisted on December 3, 1917. As he was still under 21, he had needed not only the permission of his parents, William Lahey Nicklin and Georgina Ada Nicklin (nee Hipwood), but also proof of his date of birth, January 18, 1897, to join up.

William left Sydney with the Queensland reinforcements on the HMAT Osterley on May 8, 1918, and arrived in Liverpool on July 10.

At the training camp at Fovant the next day, William was allotted to the 42nd Battalion. A week later, he was admitted to the Hurdcott Hospital with tonsillitis.

He returned to his training battalion the following week but on August 21 was back in hospital with influenza.

Having been discharged on August 29 he returned to hospital on September 9, suffering measles, and remained there until October 4.

As an order had been issued on October 2 for the 42nd Battalion to disband, William was re-allocated to the 41st on October 5.

He finally left for France via Southampton a month later, arriving at Rouelles on November 7.

Although the war ended four days later, William remained in France until mid-February, 1919.

He returned to Australia from England, boarding the Prinz Hubertus, one of the German ships ceded to Britain as part of its war reparations, on July 3. William arrived in Melbourne on August 26 and travelled to Brisbane where he was discharged from the Army on September 13.

“Arrived at the front just days before the war ended.”


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