Dr Walter John Westcott Close
- Born: 7 May 1891, Laura, South Australia, Australia
- Marriage (1): Gladys Cilento on 10 Aug 1918 in St Columbas, Hawthorn, South Australia, Australia
- Died: 24 Mar 1979 at age 87
- Buried: Centennial Park Cemetary, South Australia, Australia
Walter John Westcott Close was born on the 7th May 1891 at Laura, SA, the son of John and Frances Close. He was educated at the Highgate State School and Prince Alfred College and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide where he graduated in 1913. At University he was proficient at tennis and was awarded a Blue for lacrosse.
Close enlisted in the AIF in February 1915 and had previous experience as the RMO of the 74th Boothby Infantry Regt in 1914. He was commissioned as a Captain on the 6th March 1915. He was 23 years old, single, 5ft 9ins, and weighed 11st 51bs. His mother of "Exmoor", Prescott Terrace, Rose Park was named as his next of kin. He was posted to 4 LHFA, and sailed with the unit to the Middle East. Close was posted to 15 Field Ambulance, when the 4 LHFA was disbanded, and went to France in June 1916. He was at the Battle of Fromelles, and afterwards was posted as RMO of 58 Bn. He worked near and in the trenches and devoted his attention to the sanitary conditions of the soldiers. He paid special attention to providing hot baths for the soldiers within 400-500 yards of the front line and where possible clean clothes for the soldiers after bathing. This contributed to the reduction of medical illness amongst the soldiers in the trenches. He was promoted major in February 1917 and transferred to 14 FdAmb. He served with distinction as Adjutant of the unit at Vaulx and Warloy, and in September he was granted the Brevet Rank of Major, 'in recognition of especially meritorious work rendered on Active Service', at the conclusion of the Third Battle of Ypres in November 1917. Close was appointed DADMS of 5 Div. During the winter he fell ill, and in February 1918 was evacuated to England with pleurisy. He was Mentioned in Dispatches for this period of service. He spent some time in 3rd LGH, and was repatriated to Australia in May 1918 with a recommendation that his appointment in the AIF be terminated on the 13th September 1918. Close was issued with the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal with Oak Leaves.
He married Gladys Cilento, sister of Raphael West Cilento on the 8th October 1918 at St Columba's Church, Hawthorn. Close followed a surgical career on his return to South Australia with successful post graduate studies in Great Britain and Europe. Initial appointments include honorary medical officer at Port Pirie Hospital followed by more senior appointments at the Adelaide Children's Hospital and the Adelaide Hospital. He consulted at 175 North Terrace with his private address as Kurrajong Cottage, Gilles St East, Adelaide. He was appointed as a tutor in Anatomy and Surgery at the Adelaide University Medical School in 1934. During WW2 he worked from September 1942 to November 1943 at the Isolation Hospital at Keswick. Walter John Westcott Close died at the age of 87 years on the 24th March 1979 and is buried in the Centennial Park Cemetery.
(Source: Verco C, Summers A, Swain T & Jelly M, 2014, "Blood, Sweat and Fears", Open Book, St Mary's, South Australia)
Noted events in his life were:
• Military Service: AIF. Major Australian Army Medical Corp.
• Military Award: Mention In Dispatches. Date of London Gazette: 28 May 1918, page 6200, position 11
Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 24 October 1918, page 2055, position 27
• Military Award: British War Medal, 12 May 1921.
• Military Award: Victory Medal, 20 Jan 1923.
• Military Award: 1914-1915 Star.
• Military Service: Enlisted Australian Army WWII, 3 Sep 1942, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Servied at Isolation Hospital Keswick - did not see operational service
• Military Discharge, 25 Nov 1943, Keswick, South Australia, Australia.
Walter married Gladys Cilento, daughter of Raphael Ambrose Cilento and Frances Ellen Elizabeth West, on 10 Aug 1918 in St Columbas, Hawthorn, South Australia, Australia. (Gladys Cilento was born on 12 Oct 1891 in Jamestown, South Australia, Australia and died in 1967 in Tusmore, South Australia, Australia.)