Arthur William McPherson (Service No. 2706)
(1895 - 1987)
Arthur William McPherson was born in Laverton to parents Arthur McPherson (1857–1929) and Tabitha McPherson nee Oliver (1859-1941) in 1895. He was the eldest of three sons born to the couple Arthur’s two younger brothers were Alexander Stephen and Gordon Thomas McPherson.
Arthur (Snr) was employed by Victoria Railways and had been living and working within Laverton from the early 1890’s until the railways moved him and the family to Ballarat where he was to be in charge of the Burnbank Street railway gates.
Arthur completed his education in Ballarat and at the age of about 15 began an apprenticeship as a coach painter at the local motor and carriage works Sep. Morse & Co on Doveton Street Ballarat. His brother Alexander commenced his apprenticeship at the company about two years after Arthur.
The two brothers shared more than just working together they were also members of the local Miner’s Rest Football Club playing on the back line together in the Ballarat league. When the war broke out and they were both of age the two brothers enlisted into the AIF on 12 July 1915 in Ballarat and were both assigned to the 24th Battalion. At the time Arthur was 20 years old. Arthur had also served in the 71st Battalion Cadets in Ballarat.
Following their initial training the 24th Battalion embarked from Melbourne on board the HMAT A38 Ulysses on 27 October 1915. After the battalion and Private Arthur McPherson disembarked in Egypt he was reassigned to the 7th Battalion alongside his brother Alexander.
Private Arthur McPherson and the 7th Battalion joined the fighting on the Western Front and were sent to the Somme where its first major action came in July during the Battle of Pozières. Throughout July and into August the battalion was committed to the fighting in two major battles losing 55 men killed in the first battle and another 83 killed in the second.
In late August the 7th Battalion with just over half its authorised strength was transferred to Ypres in Belgium where they operated trenches near the Ypres–Commines canal. During this period they were not involved in any major attacks however nightly patrols were sent out into ‘no man’s land’ to establish listening posts to gather intelligence. On 30 September the 7th Battalion along with its sister battalion the 8th Battalion mounted a raid on the German line at Hollebeke in Belgium.
In the October of 1916 the men of 7th Battalion returned to the Somme where they spent the winter months manning trenches. By early 1917 hastened by the loss of the high ground around Pozières the German forces withdrew back to the Hindenburg Line in order to shorten their defensive line. When the withdrawal had been discovered the 7th Battalion launched what was meant to be a trench raid but this turned into an open advance seeing them extend their lines by 1.5 miles. At this point the advance was halted as the German forces had established themselves in strength before the Australians reached Bullecourt. During this year the 7th saw action at Somme Pozières and Ypres (Belgium).
It was at Ypres in October 1917 that Private Arthur McPherson received a gunshot wound to his right leg close to the knee joint which was severe enough to see him evacuated from the front. He spent nearly three months being treated in military hospitals in France before he was returned to England where he spent another month receiving further treatment.
It was considered that the wound was too severe and he was transported back to Australia onboard the HMAT A30 Borda arriving in Melbourne 5 April 1918 and was discharged as medically unfit. Arthur returned to a ‘welcome home’ reception in Ballarat that was noted within the following item published in the Ballarat Star – Arthur McPherson, of Burnbank Street, Ballarat, 7th Battalion AIF; well-known as one of Ballarat’s best footballers’ and firemen, will return to this city by the second division on the express this evening, after nearly three years of active service abroad. This soldier returns invalided with wounds in the knees. He was well known through-out the second brigade for his activity and brings back medals and tokens gained at sports whilst resting from the lines. He has taken a prominent part in such great ‘stunts’ as those of Pozières, Bupaume, Bullecourt, Messines, and others in Belgium. His brother, Corporal Alex. McPherson with whom he enlisted is still going strong with the boys on the battlefields of Belgium. It is requested that all members of the Wendouree Fire Brigade will turn out in uniform to welcome their old member and returned warrior.
Arthur returned to life as a coach painter and in 1923 he married Freda Lillian Martin (1900 – 1982) the daughter of Frederick and Ada Jane Martin (Trengrove) of Raglan Victoria. Freda had lost her brother Thomas William Martin in WWI during a battle in Belgium. Arthur went back to playing football for a period and continued to work as a coach and motor painter through his life in Ballarat where he and Freda raised their two daughters. Arthur William McPherson passed away in 1987 aged 92 and is buried in the Ballarat New Cemetery.