William (Bill) Robert McFarlane was born in Wentworth, New South Wales, on 10 February 1920. He enlisted in the Australian Army on 23 July 1940 at Caulfield, Victoria, and was deployed to Singapore with the 2nd/4th Anti-Tank Regiment.
After the fall of Singapore, Bill was taken prisoner and interned at Changi and other locations around Singapore for about 12 months doing forced labour. He was then sent to Thailand by rail and assigned to D Force where he worked on the Burma-Thai Railway. He was involved with completing the Wampo Viaduct and Hellfire Pass sections of the railway.
In July 1944, Bill was amongst 1500 Australians transported to Japan on the Byoki Maru (the sick ship). The Byoki Maru was to survive torpedo attacks from US submarines en route. The Byoki Maru arrived in Japan followed a 70 day transit and Bill was sent to the Fukuoka 2B prison camp in Nagasaki to work in the Kawanami Shipbuilding dockyards. He was employed in shipbuilding, working 30 days on and one day off. He died of pneumonia on 27 December 1944.