Badge Number: 3778, Sub Branch: Berri

MCCREANOR, Roy Wilfred

Service Number: 2947
Enlisted: 9 June 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia , 1891
Home Town: Berri, Berri and Barmera, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: South Australia , 28 December 1952, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Berri Cemetery, S.A.
Memorials: Berri WW1 Gate of Honour, Men from Renmark and District Roll of Honor Boards (4)
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World War 1 Service

9 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2947, Adelaide, South Australia
21 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 2947, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
21 Sep 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 2947, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Star of England, Adelaide
23 Jul 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 2947, 10th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , GSW (arm)
20 Jun 1917: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 2947, 10th Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Roy Wilfred McCreanor's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College



Roy Wilfred McCreanor (1891-1952) was born in Adelaide, South Australia. McCreanor was 5 Feet 6 ¼ inches tall, weighed 134lbs, had hazel eyes and brown hair. He and his family were Roman Catholic. He was single and a labourer before enlisting. He was the eldest son of a large Irish Catholic family. His parents left Adelaide to join a new fruit growing settlement along the River Murray at Berri, while his job was to clear the land and plant vines and fruit trees. McCreanor had 11 siblings, including Allan who also went to the war. His brother Ern went to WW2. His father, Joseph McCreanor, was born on 11th December 1860 and Roy’s mother, Sarah Harriet McCreanor (Pepper), was born on 5th January 1868. 

McCreanor enlisted on the 14/6/1915 when he was 23 9/12 years old, being one of 165,912 people who enlisted in 1915. His service number was 2947. McCreanor first served in the H Group Base Informatory for 17 days. On 1st July 1915, he was transferred and joined the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion, 9th Reinforcement. On the 6th September - 8th September 1915, he committed a crime for being absent without leave from 9:00 am to 9:30 am. He was punished with two days' pay taken away. He embarked onto HMAT Star of England A15 from Adelaide, South Australia. This ship was made in Queensland, Australia in September 1914 and it carried the first group of people to Egypt, including McCreanor.  On 29/11/1915, he was taken on strength in Mudros, Greece. He was in a training camp on the Greek island of Lemnos, where he wrote his first diary entry. ‘Many games of football was played here at Lemnos, our battalion was victorious every time. Rugby and cricket was also played here. There was plenty of food for us: biscuits, puddings and jam. We can also buy plenty of fruit. Mostly oranges and nuts from the Greek people. On the side drinks too if you wanted it’ (from his diary) He disembarked from “Seang Bee” in Alexandria, Egypt. 

On 7/1/1916, his battalion was sent to join the Battle of Pozieres in France, which was a part of the Battle of the Somme. In over two weeks, more than 12,000 Australian soldiers were wounded or killed. According to the unit diaries, at 7:00 pm, they marched from Sailly via Le Verrie and Oultersteen near Moolenacker. After nineteen days, the soldiers marched from Albert to Sausage Valley where they stayed at an old British trench until 10:00 pm of 22/7/16 they proceeded via Black Watch Alley to attack on Pozieres. During 22/7-25/7/1916, they left Sausage Valley and proceeded via Black Watch Alley to support the 9th Battalion, who finished their waves of attack. They, together head to their objective trench X5D.7.9. to X5.C.1/3.3. They were heavily shelled with both poison gas I.H.E shell which caused several casualties tendering and had to put on anti-gas helmets which caused some delay to their next point. On 23/7/1916, McCreanor decided by himself that he walked back along the trenches for 5 miles while stepping over wounded and dead. He was going to inform the situation to the clearing station, but he went the long way around. His decision saved his life. He was only injured. Two days later, he was admitted to a hospital in Etaples because of a gunshot wound in his arm and ankle. On the 29/7/1916, there was a gunshot wound on his right ankle in France during action in the Battle of Pozieres.  He rested in Calais, England. Two days later, on the 31/7/1916, he admitted into the 1st Northern General Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. At that time, the wound on his arm was quite severe.

On the 16/11/1916, he was transferred to 1st Australia Hospital in Weymouth, England. This was because of the wound in his ankle and arm. After one month, on the 14/12/1916, he was discharged from the 1st Australia Hospital. He had an overstaying leave from 6 pm to pm on the 3/1/1917 – 4/1/1917. He was punished by 2 days' pay taken away by LR.L Pency. On the 13/2/1917, he returned to Australia via the H.T Ulysses from Plymouth, England. He was discharged from the 4th Medical department on the 20/6/1917 due to medically unfit. In total, he survived 2 years 7 days and 1 year 237 days abroad. McCreanor was lucky enough to survive through the hard times, being one of the 156,000 Australian men who were injured or wounded and one of the 416,809 men who was enlisted survived.

McCreanor’s salary each day before embarkation was $50. After embarkation, his salary was still $50 excluding deferred pay. His allotment to Australia every day after embarkation was $30. His salary not including allowance after embarkation is $20. After discharge, he was married to Gladys McCreanor (Dreyer). They had two sons called Bob McCreanor and Louis Edward McCreanor. Louis Edward McCreanor was born on 26 September 1921. He enlisted on 27 July 1941 for World War 2. His highest rank was Sergeant while his dad’s highest rank was a Private. Every soldier discharged during that time was given a set of lands so they have had an income. He joined the early fruit packing and winery union and was a member of the Australian dried fruit association. He helped establish the libraries at Berri and Monash. He was also one of the founding members of the Catholic church in the Riverlands. Throughout his experiences in World War One, he kept a diary which his family members read after his death many years later. He passed away in 1952, buried in his hometown Berri Cemetery and was on the WW1 honour roll in the Berri Memories Gates Oval. His bravery will always be recognised and respected.


ANZAC Spirit                                                      

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day (25 April 1915) marked and recognized the day of the Gallipoli campaign. On 25 April 1915, around 4:30 in the morning, the ANZAC corps landed into Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula. Instead of landing onto Gaba Tepe, they landed on Ari Burnu. They were utterly confused with the landscape, and it was hard for them to see the enemies because of the dark environment. They fought to hold a triangular piece of land against the Turkish soldiers. Within a day, almost 1700 casualties were evacuated from the place now known as Anzac Cove. The Anzac spirit was passed on after that campaign, where Australian and New Zealand soldiers shared common positive qualities that a soldier should have.   


Being an ‘Anzac’ meant that one had served on Gallipoli. ANZAC stands for positive qualities that the Australian and New Zealand soldiers showed in the war. ANZAC Spirit qualities include: endurance, courage, bravery, ingenuity, mateship and good humour. 

McCreanor reflected the ANZAC Spirit through doing his duty, determination, courage and commitment. He showed doing his duty and commitment by joining the force and going to World War One. He served and contributed to the country, putting his life on the line, was faced unknown dangers and was separated from his family. He reflected determination and courage by deciding to walk back along the trenches for 5 miles the long way around, which might have saved his life. 

In the Australian army, there was no such thing as sentenced to death like the British did. If a soldier was in the British army and got caught sleeping on their duties, they would be sentenced to death. However, the Australian army showed the ANZAC Spirit of mateship and the most serious sentence would be fining them.   





ABC Riverlands 2015, Riverland WWI soldier Roy McCreanor farewells orchard for battlefield, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.


AIF project n.d., Roy Wilfred McCREANOR, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.


Australian War Memorial n.d., Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War, Australian Government, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.


Australian War Memorial n.d., AWM4 Subclass 23/27 - 10th Infantry Battalion, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.


Australian War Memorial n.d., FIRST WORLD WAR EMBARKATION ROLL Roy Wilfred McCreanor, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.


Australian War Memorial n.d., Private Roy Wilfred McCreanor, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.

Australian War Memorial n.d., Enlistment statistics, First World War, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.


Australian War Memorial n.d., HMAT Star of England (A15), at Pinkenbar, Queensland, with the 2nd Australian Light Horse..., accessed 24 March 2019, <>.


Commonwealth War Grave Commision n.d., McCreanor, Roy Wilfred, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.


National Archives of Australia n.d., Army – World War I: 1914–18, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.


National Archives of Australia n.d., Roy Wilfred McCreanor, Australian Government, accessed 10 March 2019, <>.



State Library of South Australia n.d., McCreanor, Roy Wilfred, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.



Trove n.d., McCreanor, Roy Wilfred, National Library of Australia, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.



Virtual War Memorial Australia n.d., MCCREANOR, Louis Edward, accessed 24 March 2019, <>.







Biography contributed

Contributed by Southern Montessori School, South Australia

Roy Wilfred McCreanor was born on 16th February, 1981 into a large Irish catholic family of 14, his mother was Sarah Harriet McCreanor, and father Thomas Joseph McCreanor. Roy ended up with 11 siblings, and he was the oldest of them all. In 1911 there was a pioneering experiment to set up a fruit farm along the River Murray, and the McCreanors were one of the first family's to jump at the opportunity. They moved from Adelaide, over to Berri and set up on a large block near the river to start fruit faming. (ABC, 2021)

In 1915, three of the McCreanor brothers enlisted in the army, Allen, Earn and Roy (Figure 2). Roy was the oldest of the three at the age of 23. The three brothers bordered their ship ready to head to France, but it wasn't until after they had said their farewells and began their journey that it properly hit them - they were heading off into the unknown, and they may not return.

Roy was one of few people during the war who kept a diary, and it allowed his family to read about his adventures, even after he would eventually pass on.. His diary tells tales of his travels across the Mediterranean. He started off by going to the training camp on the island of Lemnos in Greece, on the Gallipoli peninsula. During the time at this training camp, Roy wrote in his dairy about how the soldiers used their spare time, "Playing sports like football, cricket and rugby." According to Roy, "The Australian Battalion was victorious every time."

In mid-1916, Roy's Battalion, the 10th Australian Infantry Battalion (Figure 3), was sent to France to join in one of the wars bloodies battels at the village of Pozieres. During this battle, 23,000 people died in just 6 weeks of fighting. The battle of Pozieres was one of the most significant during the battle of Somme, because the village of Pozieres was located atop a ridge and was a huge advantage for either side to have. Sources do not corroborate here, with some sources, including the Berry Council, state that Roy got shot in the shoulder, while other sources, including his grandson on the ABC, say that a bombshell landed in his trench and injured him.

Either way, Roy got major injuries, and made a decision that could have saved his life. He walked back over countless bodies through the trenches, about 7 kilometres, and got medical attention (instead of taking the quickest route). In his diary, Roy wrote, "I could've cut through the communications in order to get back to the camp quicker, but I played it safe and went around the long way." (Roy's diary, 1916) This decision saved his life, if he had chosen to take the route through communications, he would have fallen victim to a rush from enemy soldiers that occurred as he walked back.

After walking all the way back through the trenches, Roy got medical attention, and was airlifted over to a hospital in Newcastle, England, for recuperation. In 1917, he was officially discharged from the army and deemed medically unfit to serve after two years and seven days enlisted (Figure 5). He returned to Australia that year, after 7 months in the English hospitals.

The government gave out blocks of land to most of the men that returned home from war so Roy was granted a 'Soldier Settler' block near Monash in August, 1918. Roy had gained the experience he needed to plant and maintain his own fruit block while working on his father's farm and with the Berri Experimental Orchard as a young man. Grubbing, clearing, and planting with only horses and clearing equipment would have been exhausting labour. Roy connected with a woman by the name of Gladys Dreyer and on February 27, 1919, Roy and Gladys married.

By 1919, Roy had built a farm with over 400 trees including, oranges, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, apples, almonds and figs and 16 acres of grape vines. Roy also grew wheat for hay and had acres of space for his and others' horses and cows. The property also included a two-bedroom home built in 1918 and made of concrete, wood and iron. Along with the homestead, there was also brush stables, an underground tank, fencing and channelling. Eventually he bought the neighbours land, giving him enough income to hire a full-time employee.

Roy and Gladys followed in Thomas and Sarah McCreanors footsteps, and had their own family of seven. Sadly, their eldest passed away at just a few weeks old, but the other six, Louis, Brian, Eileen, Robert, Terence and Patricia, grew up healthily. Roy was involved in the towns of Berri and Monash, serving on the boards of the 'Co-op Dried Fruit Packaging Shed' and the 'Berri Co-op Winery and Distillery'. He was also a major fan of the Monash library, and the now-defunct 'Roy McCreanor Juvenile Library' in Monash Hall was named after him. Roy McCreanor and his family were devoted Catholics, and the Monash Catholic Community held mass in their home at Monash for a period. Roy and his family were early members of the congregation and were instrumental in obtaining funds for the construction of a church in Berri (Berri Barmera Council, n.d).

Roy sadly died of a sudden heart attack on the 28th of December, 1952, aged sixty-one and this was a shock to his family and to the whole of the district. Even though he passed, his legacy lives on, even today, through his role in World War One, in the funding that he helped raise for the communities of Monash and Berri and his contribution to the fruit growing industry. His wife Gladys passed a few years later at the home of her daughter in 1960 (Berri Council, n.d).


ANZAC Spirit

An 'Anzac' was a soldier who fought in a war from Australia or New Zealand. The acronym ANZAC refers for the positive traits displayed by Australian and New Zealand soldiers during the conflict. Endurance, courage, bravery, resourcefulness, mateship, and good humour are all ANZAC Spirit traits.

Through his duty, determination, courage, and commitment, McCreanor exemplified the ANZAC Spirit. By joining the army and serving in World War One, he demonstrated his duty and dedication for his country. He placed his life on the line for his nation, faced unknown perils, and was away from his family while serving. He demonstrated persistence and courage by walking back along the trenches the long way around for 5 miles, which may have saved his life. He was a brave soldier that was recognised by many at the war, and his courage was almost unmatched. In his diary, he stated that "I saw many terrible things in those trenches, but one of the most heart-warming things was when I could help people, injured or scared, get back into the fight." This shows not only that he was a great motivator, and helped people get back into the fight, but also helped save other lives of people that might have otherwise died. This is the epitome of the ANZAC spirit, and Roy deserves much more recognition for what he has done.