John Macquarie Antill (CB, CMG)
Colonel/Temporary Brigadier General
3rd Light Horse Brigade Headquarters, 2nd Infantry Brigade & 16th Infantry Brigade
John Macquarie Antill (CB, CMG) - Information
John was a son of John Macquarie and Jessie Hassall Antill. John Jr.’s grandfather, Major H. C. Antill arrived in the NSW Colony with Governor Macquarie as aide-de-camp. He was subsequently granted a selection in what was later the Picton area in 1822, which he named Jarvisfield. The Major put sheep on this land, and it became quite profitable. John Sr. and Jessie, a Cobbitty local, married in Yass on the 16th of August 1851. John Jr. was then born in Picton on the 26th of January 1866, and grew up on the family homestead of Jarvisfield. John later commenced a prodigious military career. He commanded the 1st and 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles from 1899 until 1901. He then served overseas during the Boer War. Here, he proved to be an effective leader, serving in Kimberley, Johannesburg, Wittenburg and Pretoria. He was consistently mentioned in despatches by Generals Ian Hamilton and Hatton, and Lord Roberts Commander-in-Chief. For his efforts, John was merited with the Companion of the Order of Bath. John eventually returned to his family in Picton. He continued to serve in the military becoming a Major, and married Marion Agnes Willis-Allen in Sydney in 1901. After the First World War commenced, John applied for a commission with the AIF on the 17th of October 1914. He was appointed Brevet Lieutenant Colonel with the 3rd Light Horse Brigade Headquarters. John farewelled his children in Picton, before leaving for war service on the 25th of February 1915, sailing from Melbourne on the HMAT Star of Victoria.
John disembarked in Egypt and on the 21st of May 1915, joined the Light Horse as they were now stationed to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Here, John worked closely with Headquarters organising logistics and preparing for operations, contending with the intolerable conditions along with his men. On the 20th of September, he temporarily assumed command of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade as Brigadier General. Towards the end of the year, the stalemate became insurmountable and the campaign was called off. This meant that the Allies had to leave the Peninsula under full view of the enemy. To accomplish such a task required efficient planning. John and a Colonel Paton were specially chosen to supervise the embarkation off the beach and command the rear post for the evacuation. They performed the task brilliantly and were one of the last few to the leave the Peninsula. John shortly found himself back in Egypt in February at Serapeum. He had been mentioned in despatches by General Sir Ian Hamilton for the evacuation. He was also mentioned in despatches by General Munro in April. For his continued efforts and distinguished service throughout the Gallipoli Campaign and the evacuation, he was recommended for an award. He was bestowed the Member of the 3rd Class or Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael & St George (CMG) in early June, and was promoted to Brevet Colonel.
In late August, he left Alexandria for the French port of Marseilles to join the infantry on the Western Front. In mid September, he was appointed Commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade when General Forsyth was invalided out of action. In late 1916, the 2nd Brigade was stationed in the Somme Sector for the winter. The cold miserable weather affected the health of many troops, including John. On the 28th of November, he was admitted to hospital in Rouen with bronchitis. In early December, he was evacuated to England for 3 weeks leave, relinquishing his command. On the 8th of March 1917, John assumed command of the 16th Brigade, joining them at Wareham. However, on the 26th of September, he departed England bound for Australia. His appointment with the AIF was then terminated on the 12th of December. He reunited with his family in Picton. John passed away on the 1st of March 1937.