William OLIVE #5158

William Olive

William OLIVE, 9th & 49th Infantry Battalion

Private Willie Olive was born to James [?] Olive and Nellie Cowan (1854-1904) about 1883 and although he enlisted in Lismore, NSW to serve with the first AIF, he trained at Enoggera, Brisbane with the 16th Reinforcements for the 9th Infantry Battalion. His mother Nellie had died in 1904, and so he named his brother Harry Olive of Cangai, NSW as his next of kin.

Olive left Brisbane in March 1916 bound for Egypt on board the ‘Star of Victoria. By this time troops had been evacuated from Gallipoli and units in the Middle East were being reformed. Olive was transferred to the 49th Infantry Battalion and proceeded to France via the port of Marseilles in June to begin his active service in the front lines.

Olive was first wounded in action in September 1916, receiving shell wounds to his left arm and was evacuated to England for treatment. He was hospitalised initially at the military hospital at Dartford, before spending more than a month at the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham.

Olive rejoined his battalion in the field in February 1917 and was briefly assigned to the 5th Division Army Police, rejoining his battalion two months later.

In August 1917 Olive was transferred to the Army Provost Marshal unit, for Traffic Control duties, where he remained until the end of the war.

Correspondence filed on Olive’s service record shows that in July 1917 a Miss Rose Flint wrote to Base Records in Melbourne asking for information about her ‘fiancé’ William Olive, from whom she had heard nothing since he had left Brisbane. They supplied his official address, but nothing more is known of Rose Flint.

On the journey home, Olive failed to return to the ‘Port Napien’ when it called at the port of Fremantle, WA. He was soon located and re-embarked two weeks later on the ‘Somali’, finally returning home in July 1919.

William Olive married Gladys Jackson in 1920 returning to live at Casino, where they raised a large family. Willie and Gladys are recorded as having died within days of each other, Willie 16 October 1961, Gladys 22 October 1961.

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Marg Powell & Des Crump  | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland