William KEELAN


KEELAN, William

Service Number: 773
Enlisted: 29 December 1914, Enlisted at Brisbane
Last Rank: Trooper
Last Unit: 5th Light Horse Regiment
Born: Gatehouse of Fleet, Girthon Parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, 18 June 1882
Home Town: Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Castle Gardens Public School, Kirkcudbright, Scotland
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Accidental (Injuries from a motor vehicle accident), Main Road, Woolwich, United Kingdom, 27 November 1915, aged 33 years
Cemetery: Woolwich Cemetery
Row F, Grave 42 Rev. C.A. Peacock oficiated
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

29 Dec 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 773, 5th Light Horse Regiment, Enlisted at Brisbane
9 Feb 1915: Involvement Private, SN 773, 5th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
9 Feb 1915: Embarked Private, SN 773, 5th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Itria, Brisbane
27 Nov 1915: Involvement Trooper, SN 773, 5th Light Horse Regiment, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli

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Biography contributed by Carol Foster

Arrived in Australia aged 24 years

Son of Robert Keelan. Husband of Elizabeth Couplin Keelan of Bow House, Palnakie, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire

Next of kin given as his aunt Agnes McQueen of Gladstone Place, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. Later changed to a friend Elizabeth Corsky of William Street, Delbeattie,  Scotland

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Also served in the Territorials for 2 years and over 2 years in the Royal Navy

Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

Born in Gatehouse of Fleet, Girthon Parish, Kirkcudbrightshire. Son of the late Robert and Annie (Griffin) Keelan. Husband of Elizabeth Couplin (McCoskry) Keelan of Anchorlea, Kirkcudbright and of Bow House, Palnackie, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire who he married in October 1915 in Kirkcudbright.

Galloway Gazette 4/12/1915: Mrs W Keelan, Kirkcudbright, learned on Sunday that her husband, Private William Keelan, 5th Australian Light Infantry, had been knocked down and killed by a motor car in London. Private Keelan left Kirkcudbright for Australia about eight years ago, and on the outbreak of war joined the Australian contingent, and was sent to the Dardanelles where he was wounded. He was transferred to a hospital in England and on recovering from his wounds returned to Kirkcudbright six weeks ago to get married. 

A short article relating to the Inquest of Trooper Keelan's death appears in the Portsmouth Evening News of 30.11.1915.

SRoH.     Trooper William Keelan from Kirkcudbright.   Enlisted in 5th Australian Light Horse. Served at the Dardanelles. Once wounded. Accidentally killed at Woolwich 27th November 1915.

Kirkcudbright War Memorial Inscription: Trooper W. Keelan 5th A.L.H.

Australian War Records: 29th December 1914, at Brisbane, Queensland, enlisted as trooper (no.773) with  Rifles 5th Australian Light Horse AIF (Australian Imperial Force).
Born in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, aged 32½.      Was a farmhand.      Next of kin : aunt, Mrs T. McQueen, Gladstone Place, Kirkcudbright.     Previously served 2 years with KOSB (Territorial) and 2½years with Royal Navy.
He was 5' 4'', dark complexion, blue eyes, brown hair and a Presbyterian.
19th July 1915 : in Gallipoli.
27th July 1915:  while in Gallipoli he was hospitalised with dysentery. Sent to England on HMHS (Hospital Ship) Esmarelda.
9th August 1915 : after aunt died, next of kin changed to Elizabeth McCoskry (friend, later wife) c/o Mrs John McCoskry, 71 William Street, Dalbeattie,.
17th September 1915 : in War Hospital, Reading with dysentery (slight).
27th November 1915 at 8.15pm on Saturday evening William was knocked down by a motorcar outside his barracks in Woolwich.  Next of kin (his widow) Mrs E C Keelan. His personal effects included an emu feather and some shells.
29th November 1915 : Coroner's Inquest Death of Trooper (773) ALH. Born 18th June 1882 in Gatehouse of Fleet. Trade: road contractor. Died 27th November 1915 on Main Road, Bostall Heath, Woolwich. Was seen to be crossing the road outside the barracks with 'his head down and lost in thought'. The road was very dark (war time restrictions) and despite the car sounding it's horn and having lights on, Trooper Keelan was knocked down and run over. Medical assistance was swift but the doctor found he had a compound fracture of the skull and a compound fracture of the left hip. He died of shock from his brain injury. The driver of the car (Cyril Garrett) was exonerated.
A Military Funeral was held on 30th November 1915 . He was buried in Grave 1096, Section 11, Woolwich Cemetery.  His widow attended the inquest and funeral. Her address was Grobdale, Mossdale, via Castle- Douglas.
War pension to widow Mrs Elizabeth Couplin Keelan, Anchorlie, Kirkcudbright  £52 per annum, awarded 23/03/1916.

British War Medal, Victory Medal and 15 Star sent to 'Mrs E McCoskrie'. Later she also received 'Where the Australians Rest' (a booklet of war graves), a Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

Online Embarkation Roll for Australian Light Horse (Commonwealth Expeditionary Force): Private William Keelan, a 32 year old farmer from Clifton, Queensland enlisted 30/12/1914.
He left Brisbane, Queensland on the HMAT Itria on 09/02/1915.

1891 Kirkcudbright Census, at Mid Boreland Cottage : William Keelan (9, birthplace unknown) was a boarder with Cunningham & Jane Stevenson and family. Agnes Keelan (12, birthplace unknown) was also there and is presumably William’s sister.

Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser October 1915: Marriage on 12/10/1915 at Kirkcudbright of Elizabeth Couplin McCoskry (whose father was Robert McCoskry from Dalbeattie) to William Keilan from Queensland, Australia. Elizabeth was in service at Anchorlee, Kirkcudbright.

Newspaper clipping (paper unknown), 1st December 1915 :  'Trooper William Keelan of Queensland was knocked down and killed by a motorcar at Plumstead, North London on Saturday. At the inquest, held on Monday, a verdict of accidental death was recorded.'

Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser 8th December 1915: Death of William Keelan, 5th Australian Light Horse.      William was a native of Gatehouse but had been brought up in Kirkcudbright. Before the war he was in service at the Carse and other farms in the area. He emigrated to Australia 8 years ago (c.1907) and had enlisted in the Commonwealth Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of war. He served in the Dardanelles and after being wounded he was sent to recover in an English hospital. He married Elizabeth about 9 weeks before he was trajically killed. After his wedding he retuned to Woolwich but had not expected to return to fighting for a considerable time. He was killed by a motor car in the street and buried in Woolwich.He was aged 33 (born c.1882).

Girthon Baptisms: The births of 3 of William Keilan's siblings are recorded (Robert 1868, Jane 1870 and James 1875) - father James Keilan, mother Anne/Annie Griffin. There are gaps in the register so neither William's parent's marriage or William's birth are recorded.


Scotlands People birth certificate (Girthon): Birth of William Keenan 18th June 1881 in Back Street, Gatehouse. Father: Robert Keenan, carter. Mother: Annie Griffin (married 30th May 1865). Annie could not write her name.

Scotlands People marriage: 12/10/1915 at the Manse, Kirkcudbright, William Keenan, a road contractor with 5th Australian Light Horse,from Clifton, Darling Downs, Queensland, Australia married Elizabeth Couplin McCoskry, a domestic servant from Anchorlee, Kirkcudbright. William’s father given as Robert Keelan (deceased), no mother given. Bride and groom were both aged 33.

Free BMD: Dec. 1915 Death of William Keelan (aged 32) at Woolwich.

We Will remember Them. Kirkcudbright's Sons 1914 - 1918 by Ian Devlin.
Trooper W. Kennan served with the 5th Australian Light Horse. He was born in Gatehouse but worked on many farms in Kirkcudbrightshire including Carse Farm near Kirkcudbright. He emigrated to Australia in 1907. When war broke out he enlisted in the 5th Australian Horse and was sent to the Dardanelles. He was severely wounded at Anzac Cove on 25/04/1915. While convalescing from his injuries, he visited Kirkcudbright, and met Elizabeth McCoskry from Dalbeattie who was 'in service' in Kirkcudbright. They had a 'whirlwind romance' and married in October 1915. William returned to Woolwich. He was killed by a motor vehicle on 27th November 1915 only 7 weeks after his marriage. He was 35 years old.


William Keelan – age 32 – Trooper (773) 5th Australian Light Horse.
William had worked in a number of farms in the Kirkcudbright area before he emigrated to Australia in 1907 and he was farming at Clifton, Queensland when he enlisted in December 1914. He sailed from Brisbane in February 1915 and landed at Gallipoli in July 1915 but contracted dysentery and was evacuated to hospital in Reading, England. William died in a motor vehicle accident outside his barracks at Bostal Heath, Plumstead, Woolwich just over a month after he married in Kirkcudbright.

Also named on the St. Cuthbert's Church Memorial in Kirkcudbright.