Tiller William

Name   William Leslie Tiller Rank: Sergeant     

Number   VX4026

Battalion 2/5th Infantry Battalion

Place of Birth Wiltshire England 24 May 1907

Next of Kin George Tiller his father, of Westbury Wiltshire. His mother was Alice Tiller.

Date and place of enlistment

3 November 1939 in Leongatha

Location on enlistment   Dollar  

Occupation farm labourer

Date and place of death

24 July 1943 aged 36 in Papua New Guinea

Location of grave or memorial

He is buried in Lae War Cemetery Papua New Guinea

Relationship to Woorayl Shire

Bill was an early enlistee who was single and a farm worker from Dollar

Military History

The 2/5th Battalion formed in Melbourne on 18 October 1939, as part of the 6th Australian Division. The first men of the battalion were assembled at the Melbourne Showgrounds, but the next group of new recruits were not received until after the 2/5th moved to the newly-established camp at Puckapunyal on 2 November. Basic training was completed at Puckapunyal prior to their departure for overseas service on 14 April 1940.
After arriving in the Middle East on 18 May 1940, the battalion undertook further training in Palestine and Egypt. The 2/5th took part in its first campaign – the advance against the Italians in eastern Libya in January and February 1941. They participated in successful attacks at Bardia (3-5 January) and Tobruk (21-22 January). In early April, the 2/5th, with the rest of the 6th Division were moved to Greece to resist the anticipated German invasion. For the 2/5th, the Greek campaign was a one long withdrawal to the port of Kalamata, from which it was evacuated on 27 April. Back in Palestine, the 2/5th took part in the campaign in Syria in June and July 1941, including the battle of Damour that sealed the defeat of the Vichy French forces. The battalion remained in Syria and Lebanon as part of the garrison force there until January 1942. It left the Middle East on 10 March 1942 to return to Australia. The 2/5th finally disembarked in Australia, at Melbourne, on 4 August 1942.
Later they were sent to Milne Bay, in Papua, in early October 1942 but did not meet the Japanese in battle until the end of January 1943 when it joined the force defending Wau, in New Guinea. After the victory at Wau the 2/5th participated in the push towards Salamaua and was heavily engaged around Goodview and Mount Tambu in July and August. It was during the actions that Bill was killed in action in July.

The following is a description of circumstances surrounding Bill Tiller being posthumously awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

On 16 July a 2/5th Battalion Company captured high ground at the southern end of Mt Tambo. Sergeant Bill Tiller single-handedly wiped out a Japanese machine gun crew and then helped his men kill 20 Japanese in hand-to-hand fighting and gave his men a valuable knoll. Another platoon took a second knoll, but that night the enemy launched eight attacks to recapture this ground. Mortar, mountain gun and machine gun fire accompanied attacks launched from 10 to 15 metres away, but the Australians held on and countered the Japanese fire and taunts with their own. Tiller was again prominent encouraging his men and leading by deadly example. Tiller would not see his well-deserved DCM, for the day after he was killed while acting as a forward scout.

In the photo Bill Tiller is on the right

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