Francis was one of a large family born to Alexander and Margaret McIlveen in the Inverell district. His birth was registered at Inverell in 1872. At the age of forty four years Francis enlisted in Sydney in May 1916. The Inverell Times newspaper, 12 October 1915, reported that Francis volunteered at a recruiting meeting held at Elsmore after there was no response to the appeal for men ‘to take their part in the defence of the Empire.’ Francis said ‘For the honor of Elsmore, I will volunteer myself.’ He was a married man with several children and worked as a Bee Farmer before moving to Sydney to enlist.
He left Australia on HMAT A40 Ceramic in October 1916 with the 19th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement. A few weeks after arriving in England in November he was sent to Etaples, France. Private Francis McIlveen was Killed in Action on 3 May 1917 and has no known grave. His name is recorded at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France.
At Inverell his name is inscribed in the town’s Honor Roll and Cenotaph as well as on the Elsmore Honor Roll. In 1919 he was one of the men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade, Inverell.