Murray Willing enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Wallaroo, South Australia, in March 1940.
Serving with the 2/10th Infantry Battalion, Murray fought at Tobruk in Libya. He recalled the evening arrival in the harbour of the besieged town and the tension of patrolling along the red line at night.
After being withdrawn from Tobruk, Murray was made a corporal on arrival in Papua. He fought at Milne Bay, where he had a close contact with 6 advancing Japanese soldiers. Murray remembered the battle at Milne Bay vividly, and his section formed one of the burial parties after the battle.
During the fighting at Buna in late December 1942, Murray was seriously wounded in the chest by a sniper as the battalion fought for control of the old airstrip. He described in detail the moment he was wounded and his subsequent evacuation, during which he was shot at by Japanese planes while on a stretcher.
Murray was evacuated to Australia and discharged from the AIF on 20 October 1943.