John Michael Purtell was born in Bendigo, VIC, was single and a student when he enlisted in the 15th General (Victorian) Reinforcements on 28 March 1918 at the age of 19. His unit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A36 Boonah on 22 October 1918. However, on Nov. 11, 1918, fighting in World War I came to an end following the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany that called for a ceasefire effective at 11 a.m The Boonah was recalled to Australia and disembarked on 20 December 1918.
Tree No. 3592