William John MULRONEY MM

Badge Number: 11599, Sub Branch: Port Elliot

MULRONEY, William John

Service Number: 2200
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 50th Infantry Battalion
Born: Norwood, South Australia, Australia, 21 December 1889
Home Town: Norwood (SA), South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farm Labourer
Died: Port Elliott South Australia , 5 April 1975, aged 85 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Cheltenham Cemetery, South Australia
Section 1 Drive C Path 7(8) Site 259N
Memorials: Ceduna Merghiny Maltee & Waranda Pictorial Roll of Honor, Ceduna Murat Bay and District WW1 Honor Roll, Norwood Primary School Honour Board, Norwood St Bartholomew's Anglican Church Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

23 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, 2200, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Borda, Adelaide
23 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, 2200, 10th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Borda embarkation_ship_number: A30 public_note: ''
4 Aug 1915: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 50th Infantry Battalion
4 Aug 1915: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 50th Infantry Battalion
16 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, 2200, 50th Infantry Battalion, Wounded by heavy enemy shelling when trying move out of trench.
5 Mar 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, 2200, 50th Infantry Battalion, Wounded during practical trench warfare attack.
27 Nov 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 50th Infantry Battalion
7 Jan 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 50th Infantry Battalion
7 Jan 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 50th Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Corporal, 2200, Villers-Bretonneux, Wounded by hostile machine gun fire or enemy shelling during Veillers-Bretonneux campaign.
11 Nov 1918: Involvement Sergeant, 2200, 50th Infantry Battalion
14 May 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Sergeant, 2200, Discharged from Shropshire, England due to cessation of hostilities
6 Mar 1920: Honoured Military Medal and bar

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

Biography contributed by Kathleen Bambridge

Sergeant Mulroney was presented with his Military Medal By General Birdwood, from the United Kingdom who was visting Adelaide on 6 March 1920.

Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

On the 21st of December 1889, William John Frayne Mulroney was born to parents John Joseph Mulroney and Mary Jane Frayne. William was the first of John and Mary’s six children, and the only one born prior to their marriage; his siblings were Edith Florence Mulroney (born 1891), Edward Albert Mulroney (born 1893), Lawrence Mulroney (born 1895) John Joseph Mulroney Jr. (born 1905), and Leonard James Mulroney (born 1910). (Source: Genealogy SA)

Before enlisting to join the Australian Imperial Force at age 25, William was an unmarried labourer, living in his family home at 103 Edward Street, Norwood, South Australia. But he put this life behind him after he made the decision to join the Army on the 29th of January 1915. (Source: the AIF Project)

Mulroney enlisted at the Keswick barracks in South Australia, and trained for 60 days at a local base camp. He embarked on his journey from Adelaide on board the HMAT A30 Borda nearly six months later on the 23rd of June. Initially, William joined the 6th reinforcement to the 10th battalion on the 1st of April, but he wasn’t with the battalion until August that year. (Source: William John Mulroney Service Record)

After a bit of sickness and time in hospital, Mulroney rejoined his unit on the 23rd of February 1916. Three days later, he was transferred to the 50th battalion on the 26th of February and was taken on strength the following day. (Source: William John Mulroney Service Record)

Throughout his time on the force, Mulroney was wounded in action a total of three times. The first time he was recorded WIA was in France on the 16th of August 1916 as a result of heavy shelling casualties, keeping him out of his unit for just over two months. The second situation in France on the 5th of March 1917 left the young man out of the force for 25 days with injuries from a trench warfare attack. And the final reported casualty of Mulroney was on the 25th of March 1918 during the battle of Villers-Bretonneux, where he was wounded either by machine gun fire or heavy enemy shelling. (Source: William John Mulroney Service Record, AWM 50th Battalion War Diary: August 1916, AWM 50th Battalion War Diary: March 1917, AWM 50th Battalion War Diary: March 1918) 

Private Mulroney was a good soldier, though there was one small issue that left him with a 14 day sentence from the Field General Court. After 170 days in arrest, Mulroney was trialled on the 12th of July 1917, pleading guilty and being found guilty of interfering with his pay book in an attempt to increase his pay. Though, this minor altercation is not an accurate representation of Mulroney as a soldier, since he was promoted many times – from Private to Lance Corporal, to Corporal and finally to Sergeant on the 22nd of July 1918. (Source: William John Mulroney Service Record)

Whilst he consistently showed great strength and bravery on the field, the 11th of September 1918 delivered Sgt Mulroney’s finest, most valiant performance. He was noted to have shown “conspicuous bravery and determined fighting ability during an attack by his platoon, without artillery support”. (Source: the AIF Project) 

The extract of the Commonwealth Gazette describes the magnificent example Mulroney set for his fellow soldiers as he “dashed forward over 200 yards of open ground, and was first man into the enemy trenches, where he succeeded in killing two of the enemy before anyone else of the platoon got in”. His bravery under pressure and composure whilst handling his platoon during the attack awarded him with the prestigious Military Medal. (Source: the AIF Project) 

Mulroney was recommended for his MM a week after the attack on the 18th of September 1918, and was presented with his medal after the war in Adelaide on the 6th of March 1920. Though, he is also decorated with the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Source: the AIF Project)

After the war in the year 1921, William married Cecilia Paget, a young woman who was roughly the same age as him.  The couple welcomed their first child, a daughter by the name of Mary Eleanor Mulroney during 1922. Closely following Mary’s arrival, the couple’s son John Lawrence Mulroney was born in 1925. (Source: Genealogy SA) 

Mary Eleanor's name is most likely a tribute to William's mother Mary Frayne and Cecilia's mother Eleanor Haddrick, whilst John Lawrence's name seems to acknowledge William's father John and his brother Lawrence, who was deceased at the time of his nephew's birth. (Source: Ancestry.com)

In order to provide for his new family, Mulroney resumed his job as a labourer after the Great War had concluded. The Mulroney family was living a normal life, until the 23rd of October 1926, when young Mary, 5 years old at the time, was involved in a very serious car accident that left her with a broken leg and a fractured skull. Though she was noted to have been progressing favourably at the Children's Hosptial in the aftermath of the accident, and the following statement cannot be confirmed, but this accident may have had negative affects on Mary’s health for the rest of her life, and could explain why she died at the very young age of 23 on May 30th 1945. (Source: Advertiser – Monday 25th October 1926, Ancestry.com)

William Mulroney lived a long life, outliving most of his immediate family; his brother Lawrence (died 1912, aged 17), his brother John (died 1938, aged 33), his father John (died 1941, aged 76), his daughter Mary (died 1945, aged 23), his mother Mary (died 1963, aged 93), his wife Cecilia (died 1970, aged 80), his brother Edward (died 1970, aged 76), and his sister Edith (died 1972, aged 81) had all deceased prior to his death in 1975 at the age of 85. (Source: Ancestry.com)