The first Australian soldier to lose his life in the First World War may well have been 22-year-old Lieutenant William Malcolm Chisholm, who was killed at the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914.
Delphine Bartier, press and media manager for France’s Nord Region, who has looked into the events surrounding the officer’s death, said: ‘We are pretty sure he was the first Australian to die in World War I, certainly the first to die in the campaign here in France.’
Moved to England
Chisholm had been born in Sydney and educated at Sydney Grammer School, but he moved to the UK when the father got a job at a London hospital. He entered the military academy at Sandhurst in 1911 and joined the East Lancashire Regiment a year later.
On 26 August 26, 1914 the British Expeditionary Force was pulling back from Mons and made a stand near Cateau Cambresis. Lieutenant Chisholm and his men arrived at Le Cateau on the afternoon of the 25th and went into action at 4am. Around 3pm on the 26th Chisholm was hit by a bullet. He died of his wounds the following day.
Lieutenant Chisholm is one of 19 identified soldiers to be buried at the cemetery at Ligny en Cambresis.