The AIF Project

Walter HARMER

Regimental number2674
Date of birth3 May 1899
Place of birthHull, Yorkshire, England
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll26 June 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll48th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 12 October 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 17), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
145
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked from Fremantle, 30 October 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 28 December 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 13August 1917. Taken on strength, 48th Bn, in the field, 1 September 1917.

Listed as wounded and missing in action, 12 October 1917; confirmed as killed in action, 12 October 1917.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

District Pay Office, 5th Military District, Perth, wrote to Base Records, 1 December 1922: '[Webster HARMER, Pte HARMER's father, whom he named as his Next of Kin] deserted his wife and children in England and is also wanted in this State for misappropriation of moneys [203 pounds]. Base Records wrote to Mrs HARMER, 6 April 1923, seeking the address of Mr Webster HARMER, who had been listed as Next of Kin. Mrs HARMER replied, 1 July 1923: 'I do not know whether he is dead or alive as I have never heard from him since August 1917. I wrote out to the Chief of Police, they wrote me they could find no trace of him only that he left Perth Western Australia but no address and I have never heard anything of him since. All I can tell you he left me in England with 5 children promising to send for us all out to Australia but he only sent for the older boy, promising to send for us later and then the war broke out, then he said the Australian Government would not allow us to come out and then boy my son [sic] joined the Australian forces then later on coming home to England and before leaving England for France making a will leaving me his Mother everything that was due to him if anything happened and [he] did not come back. Had the boy come back my life would not have been what it is today struggling to bring my family up without any help from their father, but it seems men can come out to Australia, leave wife and family and there is no law to force them to keep them.'

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