William ‘Bill’ Leo Larkin

July 20, 2015

LARKIN, William -‘Bill’ Leo- – – – SPC 1909-1913

DoB:- – – – – – – – 1898, Hawthorn, VIC

Father:- – – – – Michael Larkin

Mother:- – – – – Elizabeth, nee Guerin (both Michael and Elizabeth were immigrants from Ireland -“ they met and married in Melbourne)

Bill Larkin attended St Patricks, as did his older brother John Vernon (SPC 1903-1905). John also enlisted in the AIF, and was tragically killed in action in France.

While still at St Pat’s, Bill received a sterling silver medal, with rose gold detail, as the winner of the Under 13’s 220 yards event at the College Athletics.

Service No:- – – 733

Rank:- – – – – – – – – Corporal, later Staff Sergeant

Unit:- – – – – – – – – 39th Battalion

Bill Larkin tried (unsuccessfully) to enlist in 1915, at the age of 17 years and two months. He was accepted just over a year later, and was assigned to the 1st Machine Gun Coy at Seymour in March 1917, aged 18 years and six months. He was a single man, five feet, 11 inches tall, with a medium complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. His occupation was clerk.

Corporal Larkin left Australia in June 1917. He served in England and France for three years, before returning to Australia on 25 April 1920.

In 1940, William Leo Larkin again answered the call to serve his country in the armed forces (Service No VX 11459). He saw service in the Middle East and New Guinea, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1942.

He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in November 1946. The citation reads as follows -“

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL LARKIN has been Assistant Military Secretary, H Q, First Australian Army, from June 1944 and his work in NEW GUINEA has been outstanding. His experience and accuracy in M S work has been of great assistance and he previously served efficiently in the MIDDLE EAST.

Bill retired in 1963, after more than 48 years with the Commonwealth Public Service. He died in 1967 at the age of 68 years in Canberra, ACT. He was buried at Woden Cemetery, ACT.

Much of the information and images of the two Larkin brothers was generously provided by the descendants of William -‘Bill’ Leo Larkin.

Bill and John Vernon were two of the five children of Michael and Elizabeth, who both migrated from Ireland separately, Michael travelling on his own, Elizabeth with her sister. They met and married in Melbourne, and in a few years had five children: John Vernon, Lucy, Veronica, William Leo, and Michael Francis. Sadly, Michael died on 13 January 1904, leaving Elizabeth to manage with five children under the age of 12 years.

William Leo in turn, married and had a son whom he named William, also known as Bill. Bill (junior) married Helen, and they had five children of their own. Tragically, Bill (junior) died unexpectedly on 9 December 2014, leaving Helen, their children and extended families in shock at his sudden death. It was Bill’s wife Helen who has helped the College piece together the information about these two Larkin boys.