The AIF Project

William Henry LAYTON

Regimental number3566
Place of birthRichmond, Victoria
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationGroom
Address220 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation35
Height5' 3.5"
Weight132 lbs
Next of kinSister, Mrs Bert Jackson, 25 Johnston Street, Collingwood, Melbourne, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date10 September 1915
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name23rd Battalion, 8th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/40/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A19 Afric on 5 January 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll60th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 19 July 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
170
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Allotted to and proceeded to join 24th Bn, 14 March 1916.

Transferred to to 60th Bn, and taken on strength, Ferry Post, 4 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 18 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Reported Missing, 19 July 1916.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 4 August 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 19 July 1916'.

Note, Red Cross File No 1570208: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Statement, 4840 Corporal E.C. LATHAM, D Company, 60th Bn (patient, Southall Hospital, London, England), 5 January 1917: 'Layton was lying out in No Man's Land at Fleurbaix, bleeding from the mouth and nose, and clawing at the ground, evidently dying when informant crawled past him on 20th July. Informant was getting back wounded to our lines, after lying out all night.'

Second statement, 4058 Pte G.F. BAKER, A company, 60th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 20 June 1919: 'I saw Layton's body in No Man's Land near 300 yards from our lines and 150 yards from Penny's Avenue at Fleurbaix. He was bleeding badly all over the chest and was then dead. I was wounded shortly afterwards and did not see him buried.'
SourcesNAA: B2455, LAYTON William Henry
Red Cross File No 1570208

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