Oswald and William were the eldest sons of George and Amy Phifer of Ashford NSW. Oswald, a twenty five year old Grazier, successfully enlisted in January 1916 having been previously rejected for health reasons. William was twenty three when he enlisted at Inverell in December 1915. Both men were part of a group of nineteen who left Inverell together on 1 February 1916 to go into camp at Narrabri.
They became members of the 33rd Battalion, C Company which left Australia on the troopship HMAT A 74 Marathon in May 1916. They arrived in England nine weeks later and continued their training at Salisbury Plain before being sent to France in November.
Oswald was wounded in February 1917 then appointed Lance Corporal in March. Four months later he was wounded again and transferred to England where he was admitted to Norfolk War Hospital with gunshot wounds to his back, shoulder and leg. At the beginning of 1918 he was detached for duty with No 1 Command Depot before being returned to Australia in March. He was medically discharged and returned to the Inverell district. In 1921 he married Olive White and lived in the area until his death at Inverell in 1950.
William was promoted to Lance Corporal in July 1917. He was ill at the beginning of 1918, returned to his unit from hospital and then gassed in April. He was sent back to England and admitted to hospital at Bristol, returning to his unit four months later. Just a few weeks later he was wounded in action and subsequently died on 17 October 1918. William was buried at Templeux-le-Guerard British Cemetery in France. His few personal possessions, which included letters, military book, camera, snapshots, note book and fountain pen were returned to his father.
The names of the Phifer brothers are recorded on the Inverell Honor Roll. William’s name is inscribed on the Cenotaph and in 1919 he was one of the 215 men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade. Their names are also recorded on the Bonshaw Honor Roll.
Photo: William Phifer, courtesy of family