The AIF Project

Stephen GRACE

Regimental number2575
Place of birthGoroke, Victoria
SchoolState School, Goroke, Victoria, and Kookynie, Western Australia
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationLabourer
AddressLeonora, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation25
Height5' 6"
Weight126 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Kathrie Grace, Gwalia, Western Australia
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date10 April 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll6 June 1916
Place of enlistmentBlackboy Hill, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name44th Battalion, 5th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/61/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A8 Argyllshire on 9 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll44th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Age at death from cemetery records28
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.

Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Michael and Catherine GRACE, GWALIA, Western australia
Family/military connectionsBrother: 4450 Pte Michael James GRACE, 48th Bn, killed in action, 6 August 1916.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Fremantle, 9 November 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 10 January 1917, and marched into 11th Training Bn the same day.

Admitted to Fargo Hospital, 15 March 1917; marched into 11th Training Bn, 2 April 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 3 May 1917; marched into 3rd Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples, 4 May 1917.

Proceeded to unit, 21 May 1917; taken on strength of 44th Bn, in the field, 22 May 1917.

Wounded in action, 10 June 1917; admitted to No 9 Australian Field Ambulance, 10 June 1917 (gunshot wound, right elbow); transferred to No 2 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, 12 June 1917; to No 2 Australian General Hospital, Wimereux, 13 June 1917; to No 1 Convalescent Depot, Boulogne, 16 July 1917; to No 3 Rest Camp, Boulogne, 17 July 1917; marched into 3rd Australian Divisional Base Depot, Le Havre, 19 July 1917.

Proceeded to unit, 25 July 1917; rejoined unit, 26 July 1917.

On leave in England, 18 February 1918; rejoined unit, 7 March 1918.

Killed in action, 7 March 1918.

Note on B.103, 'buried'.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Statement, Red Cross File No 12001015, 3573 Pte J.W. FLOWERS, B Company, 44th Bn, 11 October 1918: 'I knew him well, he came from, I think, Freemantle [sic]. He was quite young, medium, fair, and was great at mobbing the ball. About the 4th July we were near Hamel, and attacked in the early morning. We had almost got to our objective when Grace was hit by a piece of shell which took off part of his leg. I was a few yards off and saw it. The S/Bs took him to the D/Station, and I heard on enquiry that he died there. I know nothing as to burial.'

Second statement, 293 Pte H.N. SILVERLOCK, 44th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 8 October 1918: 'I saw Steve Grace (B Coy) hit by a shell while he was working his gun at Hamel. He had his right leg and left arm blown off; he was unconscious for about 20 mins and came around for about 5 minutes just before he died. I think he recognised Cpl Homewood but he did not speak. I saw his grave in a cemetery behind Hamel Church[;] there was a cross on it.'

Third statement, 444 Pte J. HANNAY, 44th Bn (patient, 2nd Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, London, England), 15 October 1918: 'We were having a stunt in front of Hamel and had advanced 4000 yards. As we went through I stopped to dress Cpl. Lunn, and at this time I saw the dead body of Grace a yard or so away. He had been killed instantly by a shell, and had a leg blown off.'

Fourth statement, 1936 Corporal J. HOMEWOOD, 44th Bn, 4 October 1918: 'On the morning of July 4th 1918, during the Battle of Hamel, Pte Grace and myself were standing in the open about 400 yards East of Hamel itself, when a shell exploded very close to me but it did not hurt me, and upon my looking around I discovered that Pte Grace and others had been hit, so I immediately ran over to him, and found that he had his right leg blown completely off and he was also hit in numerous other places, and I saw at once that his chance of life seemed very remote. we made him as comfortable as circumstances would permit, (he was unconscious all the while) I was then forced to leave him for the time being. About 10 or 15 minutes later I was forced to return to where he lay, to get a Lewis Gun, which he was carrying when hit. When I reached him, he was semi-conscious, but he did not recognise me. Before I returned to the trench I made what arrangements I could to have him carried down to the dressing station. That was the last I saw of him.'

Fifth statement, 2593 Pte K.D. JONES, B Company, 44th Bn, 8 November 1918: 'On morning of 4th July beyond [the] village of Hamel, during our attack, [he] was hit by shell, leg blown off below the knee, and hit in back. I was about 10 yards off at the time. He was conscious up to time he died. Was taken to Dressing Station where he died. Know nothing of burial.'

Sixth statement, 2581 Pte C.J. MOTTRAM, 44th Bn, 18 September 1918: 'He was hit by a shell and had both legs broken at Hamel in a trench about midday. He died on the way down to the D/Station, and was buried somewhere near the C.C.C. close to Hamel.'

Seventh statement, 272 Pte A. HART, 44th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 21 September 1918: Hamel Ridge, in front of it, I saw his grave, with "S. Grace", date on a board, 4th July, just a board up. It was near a Sunken Road.'

Eighth statement, 367 Company Sergeant Major W.H. QUAYLE, B Company, 44th Bn (patient, Southwark Military Hospital, London, England), 23 September 1918: 'I was taking part in the attack on Hammel [sic] on July 4th. Grace was one of the party of Pouis [sic] Gunners, and was in the first wave. A shell killed two of his companions and mortally wounded Grace, who died on arrival at the Dressing Station. He was buried close to the village of Hammel. I saw him taken away. The Ground was held.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, GRACE Stephen
Red Cross File No 12001015

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