William Malcolm CHISHOLM

CHISHOLM, William Malcolm

Service Numbers: Officer, Lieutenant
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: Unspecified British Units
Born: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1892
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Sydney Grammar School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Student
Died: Killed In Action, France, 27 August 1914
Cemetery: Ligny-en-Cambresis Communal Cemetery
Allied British Section 9
Memorials: Khancoban District Pictorial Honour Board, Sydney Grammar School WW1 Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

27 Aug 1914: Involvement Lieutenant, Officer, Unspecified British Units
Date unknown: Involvement Lieutenant, Officer, Unspecified British Units
Date unknown: Involvement Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Unspecified British Units

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

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

1st Bn.
East Lancashire Regiment

Son of Dr. William and Emma Isabel Chisholm.

An Australian, Lieutenant Malcolm Chisholm, who had a brilliant future, has died from wounds received while fighting against the Germans in Belgium.

He was the elder son of Dr. William Chisholm, of Macquarie street, Sydney, and was 22 years old. Educated at the Sydney Grammar School where he achieved considerable success, it was hoped he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a doctor. But it was his ambition to be a soldier. Going to England about four years ago, he passed examinations and was granted a commission in the East Lancashire Regiment.

It was during the fighting at Mons in August that Lieutenant Chisholm was wounded in the stomach. He was in the magnificent rear guard action that Field Marshal Sir John French has fully described in his dispatch.

A pencil note was received by Lieutenant Chisholm's parents from his major telling of the injury, and that it was regretted they were unable to take the wounded with them. The information was also given that Lieutenant Chisholm had been made comfortable under shelter. A couple of days later another message was received to the effect that the soldier had been seen by a nurse, and that he was being looked after by an English doctor in German territory. Then there was silence until a notification was received of his having died. The news reached Sydney yesterday.

When the last mail left England Lieutenant Chisholm's brother Colin was being trained with Kitchener's Army.


Biography contributed by Stephen Learmonth

In 2014, William Malcolm Chisholm was officially recognised by the Australian War Memorial as being the first Australian to be killed in the First World War. The reason it took so long for this recognition was that he had been serving with the 1st East Lancashire Regiment, a non-Australian regiment.

William, Malcolm as he was often referred to, was born on the 25th of February, 1892, at 139 Macquarie Street, Sydney. He was the eldest of three children to Dr William and Isabel (née Mitchell) Chisholm. Emma’s family owned and ran Bringenbrong Station and Malcolm would spend every holiday at Khancoban. His brother, Colin Chisholm, would later inherit Khancoban Station from his uncle, John Mitchell. 

Malcolm was educated at Sydney Grammar where he was a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Senior Cadets, and afterwards a Lieutenant in the Scottish Rifles, Sydney. The family moved to the UK in 1910, when Dr Chisholm obtained a position as a surgeon at a London Hospital. The following year Malcolm was accepted into the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, in England, and on passing out was gazetted to the East Lancashire Regiment in September of 1912. His promotion to Lieutenant came through in December of 1913. As a new Lieutenant in the British Army, Malcolm spent just eight months with the battalion at Sorraon Barracks in Colchester before embarking for France at the outbreak of war.

The 1st Battalion of the East Lancashires formed part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division of the British Expeditionary Force. British and French troops were in the process of fighting a series of rearguard actions against the German Army, which was driving towards Paris. The British line between Ligny-en-Cambrésis and the town of Le Cateau was supposed to slow the German advance while the rest of the British forces took up positions south of the River Meuse. The East Lancashires detrained at le Cateau around 1700 hours on Tuesday the 25th of August and were in action by 0400 hours the following day.

On the 27th, Malcolm was hit by shrapnel in the stomach. Some of his men found him lying on the battlefield with severe shrapnel wounds to his stomach. He apparently told them to leave him as he was done for. Other records state that he said, “They’ve done for me all right. Let my people know that I died fighting like a soldier.” However, they made a stretcher out of their great coats and rifles and carried him to the local first aid station, where he died the following day. By this stage Ligny had been captured by the Germans. The Germans buried him with honour in the Ligny-en-Cambrésis Communal Cemetery and sent his sword, cap badge and wrist watch back to his mother in London via the Red Cross.

Malcolm’s family returned to Australia in 1919 after their second son, Colin, had sufficiently recovered from serious head wounds while serving with the 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers. When Emma died at the family home in Woollahra, in 1928, her ashes were taken to France and entombed in the Ligny-en-Cambrésis cemetery, just metres away from her son’s grave. Dr Chisholm donated £1000 to the village to assist the descendants of local soldiers killed during the war. The town’s people renamed the main road bisecting the village to Rue Chisholm in Malcolm’s honour.

Malcolm is remembered on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Sydney Grammar School WW1 Honour Board, and the Khancoban District Great War Honour Roll. For his service during the First World War, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


Biography contributed by Charles Campbell College

William Chisholm Malcolm was born in Sydney on 25th February, 1892. He was a student at Sydney Grammar School in New South Wales, where he was supposed to follow his father footsteps, a doctor. He is the elder son of Dr William Chisholm and Emma Isabel Chisholm (nee Mitchell). He had good results but had decided on a different path and travelled to Britain with his family in 1910. He joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst becoming an officer. He embarked for action with the 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment just days after the declaration of war was made. He died on 27 August 1914 from a wound in the stomach while fighting against the Germans at Ligny-en-Cambrésis, near Cambrai in France. After his death, his mother received his sword, cap badge and wristwatch back through the Red Cross. In the months after Chisholm’s death, Queen Alexandra awarded a wreath through his family, meanwhile they received condolences and sympathetic letters from the King and Queen and the government of New South Wales. After that, his family and Ligny-en-Cambresis still kept a good relationship, the commune offer endowments to tidy the graves and to the orphans referring to the Great War.