Able Seaman William G.V. Williams, aged 28, an electricity works employee, of Thornbury, was the first Australian killed in World War I, and possibly the first casualty from the British Empire.
He died in the events following the landing on September 11, 1914, at Rabual Harbor in the then German colony of New Guinea. This was a combined navy and military operation involving the landing and an early morning assault, inland, onto a wireless station at Bita Paka. Its success neutralised the the nerve centre of German operations in the Pacific. Within days the British forces had captured Rabaul, capturing the German Governor and his entourage. It was during this action that Able Seaman Williams was killed, along with 5 others. He is remembered on a plaque at the Bita Paka cemetery and outside the Northcote RSL club.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Rex Harcourt. Northcote Leader: 18 September 1991.
Meade, Kevin. Heroes of Gallipoli: Bita Paka and that one day in September. Milton, Qld: John Wiley and Sons Australia, 2005.