The AIF Project

James Gemmell KNIGHT

Regimental number7508
Place of birthCooke's Plains, South Australia
ReligionPresbyterian
OccupationFarmer
AddressCooke's Plains, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 9"
Weight137 lbs
Next of kinFather, J. Knight, Cooke's Plains, South Australia
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date22 August 1917
Place of enlistmentAdelaide, South Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name10th Battalion, 25th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/27/5
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A60 Aeneas on 30 October 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll10th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Age at death from cemetery records22
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
59
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: James and A.J. KNIGHT
Family/military connectionsBrother: 2803 Pte George Johnston KNIGHT, 4th Pioneer Bn, died of wounds, 18 August 1917.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 30 October 1917; admitted to Ship's Hospital, 7 December 1917 (mumps); discharged, 21 December 1917; disembarked Devonport, England, 27 December 1917, and marched into 2nd Training Bn, Sutton Veny, the same day.

Proceeded overseas to France, 1 April 1918; marched into Medical Base, Calais, 1 April 1918.

Proceeded to unit, 9 April 1918; taken on strength of 10th Bn, in the field, 10 April 1918.

Killed in action, 4 July 1918.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Note, Red Cross File No 1530407K: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills. 10.10.18.'

Statement, 7501 Pte W.E. HONEYMAN, A company, 10th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 24 October 1918: 'He was in A. Coy. but I did not see the casualty, when he was killed by [the] same shell as killed Pte F.W. Mitchell 6792, on the evening of 4-7-18, near Merris, when death was instantaneous. I think he was buried at Borre.'

Second statement, 5128 Pte D.L. JAMES, 10 Bn, 15 November 1918: 'I was on the same post as them when they were killed. I buried them a few yards from our post, but I am sorry to say about two weeks after we were going back in the line again and I looked where I had buried them and the Cross was gone, but if ever I am up that way again I will do my best to put a Cross on the Grave.'

Third statement, 1345 Lance Corporal P. FARRELL, 10th Bn, 3 January 1919: 'I remember when he was killed; he was in my section at the time. He was too badly knocked about to be buried, but we buried him in the front line with another man by the name of Mitchell. We marked the grave with a cross. I don't know if it has been looked after or not.'

Fourth statement, 7906 Pte W. GRIPTON, 10th Bn (patient, Napsbury War Hospital, England), 18 October 1918: 'Germans were attacking and Knight was killed in their barrage, instantaneously by the explostion of a pineapple shell in the trench. The enemy were held - Knight was carried and buried by stretcher bearers in a field near Merron about 300 yards from post. Rough cross erected [? barely legible] with name and number. Ground was held. Death was instantaneous, I was an eye-witness.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, KNIGHT James Gemmell

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