Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William Alfred Money (1895–1958)

by Peter Hohnen

This article was published:

William Alfred Money (1895-1958), soldier, plantation-owner and gold prospector, was born on 9 August 1895 at Holborn, London, son of George John Money, waiter, and his wife Edith Eveline, née Francis. Bill and his brother Charles emigrated to Victoria in 1914 and worked on a farm in the Mallee. On 19 September Bill enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force: he gave his religion as Anglican, and was recorded as being 5 ft 8½ ins (174 cm) tall, with a ruddy complexion. In February 1915 he joined the 5th Battalion in Egypt.

During the Gallipoli landings on 25 April, Money was wounded in the chest and shoulder; taken to Alexandria, Egypt, for treatment, he returned to his unit in July. He was posted to the 57th Battalion in February 1916, sent to the Western Front in June and promoted sergeant in July. On the night of 14/15 February 1917 at Gueudecourt, France, he 'showed great courage' while leading a raid; his good judgement saved many lives in the subsequent withdrawal through an artillery barrage. Although recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal, he was awarded the Military Medal.

Commissioned in September 1917, Money 'displayed coolness and initiative' throughout the operations at Villers-Bretonneux on 24-28 April 1918. With a handful of men, he captured a German officer and fifty soldiers. He won the Military Cross and was promoted lieutenant. On 8 August, at Wiencourt railway bridge, he again demonstrated his fighting spirit when two platoons under his command routed German gunners who had halted the advance of Canadian troops.

Money returned to Australia in December, but was unable to settle down. In January 1919 he transferred to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force and sailed for Rabaul. When his appointment terminated on 9 May 1921, he became a district officer in the civil administration of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. He resigned in 1923, established copra plantations on Umboi Island and elsewhere, and built up a flotilla of small boats for coastal trade. One of the 'Big Six' who struck gold at Edie Creek, Bulolo district, in 1926, he was soon reputed to be worth more than £50,000.

At Wau on 30 January 1942 Money enlisted in the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. In February-March he ferried soldiers and civilians from New Britain to Australia in a small boat, the Gnair. Promoted lieutenant in April and posted two months later to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit, Port Moresby, he collected intelligence from behind enemy lines as a member of Eric Feldt's coastwatching organization. Money was mentioned in dispatches for 'exceptional courage in the field' and commended by General Sir Thomas Blamey. In August 1943 he was seconded to 'M' Special Unit and promoted captain. He spent a week on Japanese-occupied Umboi Island in October, observing enemy activity. In November 1944 he reconnoitred the north coast of New Britain by barge.

A confirmed bachelor and a rugged individualist who savoured the hardship, adventure and independence of life in New Guinea, Money thrived on irregular warfare, in which he was unfettered by strict military discipline. From June 1945 he served with the British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit. His army appointment terminated on 1 April 1946 and he went home to the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. He died of cancer on 8 February 1958 at Lae and was buried in the local cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, vol 6 (Syd, 1942)
  • E. Feldt, The Coast Watchers (Melb, 1946)
  • L. Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust (Canb, 1957)
  • D. Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives (Canb, 1961)
  • G. Long, The Final Campaigns (Canb, 1963)
  • J. K. McCarthy, Patrol into Yesterday (Melb, 1963)
  • A. Powell, War by Stealth (Melb, 1996)
  • J. Sinclair, Golden Gateway (Bathurst, NSW, 1998)
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Hohnen, 'Money, William Alfred (1895–1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 August, 1895
London, Middlesex, England


8 February, 1958 (aged 62)
Lae, Papua New Guinea

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