Dr. Walter John Westcott (John) CLOSE MID

CLOSE, Walter John Westcott

Service Numbers: Captain, Major, SX23892, S2669
Enlisted: 26 March 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 14th Field Ambulance
Born: Laura, South Australia, 7 May 1891
Home Town: Rose Park, South Australia
Schooling: Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Adelaide, South Australia, 24 March 1979, aged 87 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Adelaide Royal Adelaide Hospital WW1 Roll of Honour, Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, Laura Public School Roll of Honour, Rose Park Gartrell Memorial Methodist Church Roll of Honour, Tusmore Burnside District Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

26 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Adelaide, South Australia
10 Jun 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Captain, 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, SN Captain, 58th Infantry Battalion
29 Jan 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, SN Major, 58th Infantry Battalion
8 Apr 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, SN Major, 14th Field Ambulance
13 Sep 1918: Discharged AIF WW1

World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1942: Involvement Major, SN SX23892
3 Sep 1942: Involvement Major, SN S2669
3 Sep 1942: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
25 Nov 1943: Discharged

Help us honour Walter John Westcott Close's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.


Born  Walter John Westcott CLOSE, on 7 May 1891 in Laura, South Australia.
(SA Birth records 1842 - 1906 Book: 479 Page: 166 District: Cla.)

Father John Thomas CLOSE and  Mother  Frances Close (nee WILKINSON).
Prior to enlisting Walter lived with his parents at 'Exmoor', Prescott Terrace, Rose Park
South Australia.

Gained his Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery in Adelaide, South Australia.

Previous service:
3years Volunteer Cadets - rank of Sergeant
74th Infantry - still serving as Honorary Captain of AAMC (on enlisting)

Described on enlisted as 23 years 10 months old; single; 5' 9" tall; 11 stone 5 lbs;

26/3/1915     Enlisted in Adelaide, South Australia

                    as a Captain with 4th Light Horse Regiment, B Section

8/3/1916       Attached to 15th Field Ambulance - Tel-El-Kebir, Egypt

19/6/1916     Embarked on board MS Canada, from Alexandria, Egypt
                    to join British Expeditionary Forces in France
28/6/1916     disembarked into Marseilles, France

7/8/1916       transferred to 58th Battalion, France

5/1/1917       on furlough (leave) to England

29/1/1917     Promoted to Major

8/4/1917       taken on strength into 14th Field Ambulance

21/11/1917    to be DADMS of 5th Division

5/12/1917     sick with pleurisy - Messines, France
15/12/1917   admitted No.1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station
                    transferred to 14th General Hospital - Boulogne, France
23/12/1917    suffering from suspected rheumatic fever
                    admitted to 14th Stationary Hospital - Boulogne, France 

12/3/1918      Returned to Australia on board Kenilworth Castle, from England

7/4/1918       Sir Douglas Haig noted in a despatch that Major Close was deserving
                    of Special Mention.

23/5/1918      Disembarked into Melbourne, Victoria

13/9/1918      Discharged from services with AIF

1914-15 Star (2212); British War medal (4417) and Victory medal (4377).

On behalf of his grandson Rick Harley.

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  18/2/2015.  Lest we forget.


Biography contributed by Sharyn Roberts

 Excerpt from Blood Sweat and Fears: Medical Practitioners and Medical Students of South Australian who Served in World War 1. Courtesy of the Authors

Walter John Westcott Close was born on the 7th May 1891 at Laura, SA, the son of John and Frances Close.  He was educated at the Highgate State School and Prince Alfred College and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide where he graduated in 1913. At University he was proficient at tennis and was awarded a Blue for lacrosse. Close enlisted in the AIF in February 1915 and had previous experience as the RMO of the 74th Boothby Infantry Regt in 1914. He was commissioned as a Captain on the 6th March 1915.  He was 23 years old, single, 5ft 9ins, and weighed 11st 5lbs.  His mother of “Exmoor”, Prescott Terrace, Rose Park was named as his next of kin. He was posted to 4 LHFA, and sailed with the unit to the Middle East. Close was posted to 15 FdAmb when the 4 LHFA was disbanded and went to France in June 1916. He was at the Battle of Fromelles, and afterwards was posted as RMO of 58 Bn. He worked near and in the trenches and devoted his attention to the sanitary conditions of the soldiers.  He paid special attention to providing hot baths for the soldiers within 400-500 yards of the front line and where possible clean clothes for the soldiers after bathing. This contributed to the reduction of medical illness amongst the soldiers in the trenches. He was promoted major in February 1917 and transferred to 14 FdAmb. He served with distinction as Adjutant of the unit at Vaulx and Warloy, and in September he was granted the Brevet Rank of Major, ‘in recognition of especially meritorious work rendered on Active Service’, at the conclusion of the Third Battle of Ypres in November 1917. Close was appointed DADMS of 5 Div. During the winter he fell ill, and in February 1918 was evacuated to England with pleurisy.  He was Mentioned in Despatches for this period of service. He spent some time in 3rd LGH, and was repatriated to Australia in May 1918 with a recommendation that his appointment in the AIF be terminated on the 13th September 1918. Close was issued with the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal with Oak Leaves. 

He married Gladys Cilento, sister of Raphael West Cilento, on the 8th October 1918 at St Columba’s Church, Hawthorn. Close followed a surgical career on his return to South Australia with successful post graduate studies in Great Britain and Europe. Initial appointments include honorary medical officer at Port Pirie Hospital followed by more senior appointments at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital and the Adelaide Hospital.  He consulted at 175 North Terrace with his private address as Kurrajong Cottage, Gilles St East, Adelaide. He was appointed as a tutor in Anatomy and Surgery at the Adelaide University Medical School in 1934.  During WW2 he worked from September 1942 to November 1943 at the Isolation Hospital at Keswick. Walter John Westcott Close died at the age of 87 years on the 24th March 1979 and is buried in the Centennial Park Cemetery.