Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Cecil Leventhorpe McVilly (1889–1964)

by J. G. Williams

This article was published:

Cecil Leventhorpe McVilly (1889-1964), sculler, soldier and public servant, was born on 3 August 1889 in Hobart, son of Joseph Henry McVilly, press reader and later newspaper editor, and his wife Marion Jane Thompson, née Smith. Educated at Queen's College, Hobart, he was a member of the senior cadets and a noted sculler. In 1910, 1911 and 1914 he won the Australian sculling championship and in 1913 the Diamond Sculls at Henley-on-Thames, England. For four years he served with the Derwent Infantry, and reached the rank of sergeant. He married Kathleen Agnes Williams in Hobart on 28 August 1915.

On 9 December 1915 McVilly was commissioned second lieutenant in the Australian Imperial Force and was posted to 'B' Company, 40th Battalion; his occupation on enlistment was commercial traveller. He was promoted lieutenant on 1 May 1916 and in July embarked for England for training.

McVilly landed in France on 23 November, was promoted captain in December and was engaged in training raiding parties at the Ecole Professionale, Armentières, in early 1917. He commanded 'B' Company, 40th Battalion, at the battle of Messines, 6-7 June, and was awarded the Military Cross for leadership under intensive enemy bombardment as his troops moved to their assembly position. During the 3rd battle of Ypres, at Broodseinde on 4 October, he was severely wounded and did not rejoin his unit until 20 December.

Selected for special service in Mesopotamia, on 29 January 1918 McVilly embarked in England for Basra at the head of the Persian Gulf. He joined Dunsterforce on 28 March, and took part in the defence of Baku on the Caspian Sea in August. Returning to England in January 1919, he embarked for Australia in March; he was mentioned in dispatches on 21 February for special service in Mesopotamia.

McVilly's A.I.F. appointment ended on 3 June and he became a captain on the reserve of officers, Australian Military Forces. In 1919-29 he worked for the Repatriation Commission in Tasmania. He was appointed inspector of charities in Victoria in 1929 and in 1948 became chairman of the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission. When he retired in 1953 he was living at Brighton, Melbourne. He later moved to Cowes, Phillip Island, where he died on 4 November 1964. Cremated with Anglican rites, McVilly was survived by his wife and twin daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • F. C. Green, The Fortieth, a Record of the 40th Battalion (Hob, 1922)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France 1916-17 (Syd, 1929, 1933)
  • London Gazette, 24 Aug 1917, 21 Feb 1919
  • Herald (Melbourne), 19 Aug 1929, 14 June 1930, 18 June 1953
  • Weekly Courier (Launceston), 28 Aug 1929
  • records (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

J. G. Williams, 'McVilly, Cecil Leventhorpe (1889–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 19 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 August, 1889
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


4 November, 1964 (aged 75)
Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.