Private Archie McWilliam was born in Marrickville, Sydney. Prior to enlisting he worked in the country and his occupation was recorded as station hand. He was eighteen years old when he enlisted on 26 April 1916 at Granville.
His mother Jane McWilliam of Abbot Street, Granville was recorded as his next of kin. His brother James also served.
Private Archie McWilliam embarked for service overseas on 14 September 1916 to serve with the 53 Australian Infantry Battalion 2-5 Reinforcements. He disembarked at Plymouth, before embarking for France to reinforce the unit. He attended Pigeon School for a few days before re-joining his unit.
Tragically, Private Archie McWilliam died on 29 September 1917 in Belgium. Notice of his death is recorded in the Cumberland Argus of 10 November 1917, at page 10:
He was only 18 years and 10 months old, and had just been 12 months on active service. He was attached to the 53rd Battalion, and was killed in action on 29th September. He worked in the country prior to enlisting. In the last letter to his mother he mentioned that he had not had a day’s sickness since leaving Sydney.
Private Archie McWilliam is buried in the Menin Gate Memorial Cemetery, at Ypres, Flanders, Belgium. The Memorial Scroll, Memorial Plaque, British War Medal and Victory Medal were given to his mother on his behalf. Private Archie McWilliam’s name is located on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial.
Janet Britton, Volunteer Research Assistant , City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2016