The AIF Project

George Benjamin FRANCIS

Regimental number1761
Place of birthIpswich, Suffolk, England
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
Addressc/o T Habumann, South Kolan, Bundaberg, Queensland
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation22
Height5' 6.75"
Weight144 lbs
Next of kinFather, Robert Francis, Inglesthorpe, King's Lynn, Norfolk, England
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date12 January 1915
Place of enlistmentBundaberg, Queensland
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name9th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/26/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A15 Star Of England on 8 April 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll49th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 5 September 1916
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
148
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Taken on strength, 9th Bn, Gasllipoli, 4 June 1915.

Admitted to 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, 4 November 1915 (dysentery); transferred to HS 'Galeka', 5 November 1915, and admitted to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Cairo, 9 November 1915; discharged to Overseas Base, Ghezireh, 23 December 1916; discharged to unit, 28 December 1915.

Transfererd to 49th Bn, 25 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 5 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 12 June 1916.

Reported missing in Action, 5 September 1916.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 23 April 1917, pronounced fate as 'Missing believed Killed, 5 September 1916'.

Now, 31 July 1917, reported 'Killed in Action, 5 September 1916.

Note, Red Cross File No 11006019: 'No trace Germany[.] Cert. by Capt. Mills 10/10/19'.

Statement, Lt E.M. DIVINE, 49th Bn, 21 November 1916: 'Informant states that on Sept. 5th 1916, at Mouquet Farm, we made an attack at 6 a.m. We were successful but we had a hard time. The Germans bombarded so heavily. Any of our wounded left out must have been killed; it was too hot for the stretcher-bearers to go out to the wounded but as soon as possible they made a complete search of the ground but found all killed. In many cases the bombardment had been so heavy they were blown to pieces and buried in. It was not possible for Francis to have been taken prisoner.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, FRANCIS George Benjamin
Red Cross File No 11006019

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