Bill McCann

Bill McCann
a black-and-white photograph of a male in uniform
McCann as a captain in 1917–1918
Birth nameWilliam Francis James McCann
Born(1892-04-19)19 April 1892
Glanville, South Australia
Died14 December 1957(1957-12-14) (aged 65)
Tusmore, South Australia
Service/branchAustralian Army
Years of service
  • 1914–1919
  • 1927–1935
RankLieutenant Colonel
Service number405
Commands held

Lieutenant Colonel William Francis James McCann, CMG, DSO, OBE, MC & Bar, JP (19 April 1892 – 14 December 1957) was an Australian soldier of World War I, a barrister, and a prominent figure in the military and ex-service community of South Australia during the interwar period. Born and raised in Adelaide, he worked as a teacher before the war. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private in 1914, and rose through the ranks to be commissioned during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. In 1916–1918 he fought on the Western Front in France and Belgium, was wounded twice, and rose to the rank of major. For his gallantry during the war, he was made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and twice awarded the Military Cross. After the war, he served as commanding officer of the 10th Battalion until its disbandment in 1919.

Returning home, McCann became a barrister and formed a legal partnership with Victoria Cross recipient Arthur Blackburn. McCann was active in returned servicemen's organisations, as president of the South Australian branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League from 1924 to 1931, and as a state vice-president from 1938 to 1949. He was a foundation member of the Legacy Club of Adelaide, looking after the dependents of deceased servicemen. His service in the part-time Citizen Military Forces saw him reach the rank of lieutenant colonel and command the 43rd Battalion between 1927 and 1930. Appointed as state prices commissioner and deputy Commonwealth prices commissioner from 1938 to 1954; in 1946 an arson attack on his home was linked to his anti–black marketeering work in those roles. In recognition of his work with the ex-service community, McCann was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935, and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1956.

Early life

William Francis James McCann was born at Glanville, outside Adelaide, South Australia, on 19 April 1892, to South Australian Railways engine driver John Francis McCann and his wife Eliza, née Francis. He attended various primary schools then Adelaide High School, and completed teacher training with the state Education Department in December 1913. He taught in Ethelton, Malvern and Glanville prior to the outbreak of World War I. His pre-war military experience consisted of four years in the volunteer cadets while he was at school and participating in the University of Adelaide Rifle Club during his teacher training.[1][2][3]

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