Hutch’ was William Arthur Hutchinson, secretary of the Accident Underwriters’ Association. He lived in South Perth with his wife, Alice, and their three children. Early in the war he was attached to the staff at Blackboy Hill but in May 1917, aged 34, he volunteered as YMCA Military Secretary in Egypt where he was mostly based in the Desert Column Hut at the Port Said Rest Camp.
[Hutch] “...who was unable to enlist, went forward as an old member of the YMCA of Perth as one of its secretaries. He states... 'The first day in camp I wired to the boat for my equipment, piano, and organ, and all the rest, asked for a bell tent, and ...started work. We got some YMCA paper from an adjoining camp, and put up the Red Triangle on our tent - made friends with everybody, and got to business - we pulled the piano out on the desert and held concerts, sing songs, and services, a boxing match, also one blind-folded, and were appointed censors, so we were kept going from 4 in the morning until nearly 10 at night. It was a grand experience, and one which will stand us in good stead during future work.”
Daily News 22 Sept 1917
These regular YMCA, morale-boosting events Hutch organised, are those Reg Walters depicted so beautifully in his many chalkboards.
In May 1919 after two years in Egypt, Hutch returned to Perth. The Daily News of 19 June 1919 reported that his services, and that of the YMCA “had been a veritable God-send for men coming down from the hard fighting arid, dusty plains of the north. He had been ably assisted not only by YMCA helpers, but by some of the soldiers ...and the ordinary soldiers detailed to help him, had thrown themselves with the utmost heartiness into the work, thus making it successful to this highest degree.”
Hutch died in Como in 1972, aged 89.