From soldier to mayor

AT the outbreak of World War I, William Henry Walter was a new father and a husband.

He had married Ethel May Russel on January 6, 1912, and they soon welcomed two daughters, Evelyn Alice in October 1912 and Myrtle Rose in 1915.

When the war broke out, William had little interest enlisting, content to be a family man, a member of the Order of Odd Fellows and running a gym with a good friend.

William�s younger brothers Arthur and George were keener for adventure, enlisting in the early days of the war, however both were seriously wounded in Gallipoli.

News of his brothers� injuries swayed William to enlist on April 19, 1916 at the age of 29.

He underwent six months of training at Blackboy Hill before leaving Fremantle aboard the Port Melbourne on October 30 as part of the 16th reinforcement of the 27th Battalion.

He fought in the Western Front with the 27th before being transferred to the 28th in June 1917, alongside whom he would fight in the battle of Menin Road and Broodseinde Ridge.

By early 1918, William was fighting in the Somme, defending Villers-Bretonneux from the Germans.

In April, he was badly wounded after being shot in the upper leg and was sent to England for treatment.

Badly scarred, he was sent home and given an invalid discharge on April 30, 1919.

Arthur also returned home, but George was killed in France in 1916.

The injury was not enough to stop William going back to a normal life, building up a successful plumbing business and having a third daughter, Shirley Ethel in 1928.

He became a councillor of the North Fremantle Municipality between 1940 and 1952, before becoming Mayor of North Fremantle from 1952 to 1961 until the town amalgamated into the City of Fremantle.

He died in 1977 at the age of 91.

Visit for more information on the Fremantle men who served.