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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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MacIntosh, William Frederick (Bill) (1914–1993)

by Geoffrey E.P. Hansen

This article was published online in 2020

William Frederick MacIntosh (1914–1993), army officer, clerk, and businessman, was born on 22 August 1914 at Toowoomba, Queensland, eldest of three children of William Albert MacIntosh, business manager, and his wife Martha Amelia, née Bruggemann, both born in Queensland. After William senior died unexpectedly, in 1927 Martha married Malachy Edmond Gleeson, a grazier, and the family moved to his property near Frederick Peak, inland from Townsville. Young MacIntosh attended Weir State School, before starting work as a clerk at the Townsville branch of Howard Smith Ltd, shipping agents. He also served in the 31st Battalion, Citizen Military Forces.

After World War II broke out in September 1939, MacIntosh volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 9 October. He was posted to the 2/9th Battalion, promoted to sergeant in May 1940, and allocated to the (Vickers) machine-gun section. Arriving in the Middle East via Britain in December, the 2/9th saw its first action from 19 to 21 March 1941, when it attacked and captured a fort garrisoned by Italian and Libyan troops at Giarabub, Libya. Although injured in a fall down a cliff on the first night, MacIntosh remained on duty. He directed his men ‘with calmness and determination, and twice brought up ammunition parties under fire’ (NAA B883), enabling the section to hold a vital flank and knock out enemy posts. For his outstanding leadership and courage, he was awarded the Military Medal.

The 2/9th Battalion took part in the defence of Tobruk (April–August 1941), then served in Syria, before returning to Australia in March 1942. By August the unit was in Papua and in early September was involved in the heavy fighting that repelled a Japanese invasion at Milne Bay. That same month MacIntosh was commissioned as a lieutenant. From 18 December at Cape Endaiadere, near Buna, he fearlessly led his platoon in repeated assaults against the enemy and rescued a wounded man under heavy fire. Himself shot in the right knee and arm, he was evacuated and hospitalised in Brisbane. He was mentioned in despatches in December 1943 for his gallant and distinguished service in the South-West Pacific area, and in April 1944 awarded the Military Cross for his efforts at Cape Endaiadere. On 16 July 1943 at St James’ Cathedral, Townsville, he married Hylma Sutton Lyons, a librarian and member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

MacIntosh returned to the 2/9th Battalion, which deployed to Papua in August and trained around Port Moresby with other units of the 18th Brigade. In November he was posted to brigade headquarters but rejoined his battalion in February 1944 in New Guinea. Back in Australia in May, he was classified as medically unfit for active service in the field. After performing administrative duties in Queensland as a temporary captain (September 1944) his AIF appointment ended and he transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 5 February 1946. As Townsville’s most decorated World War II soldier, he was chosen to lead the city’s Victory Day parade in June.

Following the war, MacIntosh returned to work at Howard Smith Ltd, Townsville. Notwithstanding promises to keep him on, the firm later dismissed him and other ex-servicemen. He subsequently had a general store, then a grocery store and post office. Next he worked for an oil company before purchasing the Causeway Newsagency and Gift Shop in about 1960. Moving to Brisbane in 1964, he worked for the stockbroking firm Corrie and Co. and then for the Stamp Duties Office until he retired.

Standing 173 centimetres tall, MacIntosh was slim but well-proportioned with strong facial features and calm eyes. He frequently led Anzac Day marches in Townsville. Survived by his wife and their two daughters, he died at the War Veterans Home, Pinjarra Hills, on 16 April 1993 and was buried in Pinnaroo lawn cemetery, Bridgeman Downs, Brisbane.

Research edited by Brian Wimborne

Select Bibliography

  • Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 23 December 1943, 2800
  • Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 27 April 1944, 893
  • Dickens, Gordon. Never Late: The 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939–1945. Loftus, NSW: Australian Military History Publications, 2005
  • Hansen, Geoff, and Diane Menghetti, eds. Townsville in War and Peace 1942–1946. Townsville, Qld: Townsville Museum and Historical Society, 2005
  • London Gazette. 13 June 1941, 3369
  • Lyons, Terry. A Pride of Lyons. Townsville, Qld: Terry Lyons, 1996
  • National Archives of Australia. B883, QX2163

Additional Resources

Citation details

Geoffrey E.P. Hansen, 'MacIntosh, William Frederick (Bill) (1914–1993)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/macintosh-william-frederick-bill-27642/text35094, published online 2020, accessed online 26 October 2020.

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