The AIF Project

George Thomas BECK

Regimental number1081
Place of birthNewcastle, New South Wales
SchoolKillingworth Public School, West Wallsend, New South Wales
ReligionPresbyterian
OccupationMiner
AddressSouth Seaham via West Wallsend, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 5.5"
Weight132 lbs
Next of kinFather, Ralph Beck, South Seaham via West Wallsend, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 3 years in the 16th Infantry, Citizen Military Forces; still serving at time of AIF enlistment.
Enlistment date13 January 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name35th Battalion, D Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/52/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A24 Benalla on 1 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll35th Battalion
FateReturned to Australia 5 January 1919
Place of burialAt sea
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
124
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Father: Mr R Beck, Post Office, West Wallsend, New South Wales
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 1 May 1916; found guilty, at sea, 21 May 1916, of being absent without leave, 1400-2100, 14 May: awarded 14 days' fatigue, and forfeited 1 day's pay under Royal Warrant; disembarked Plymouth, England, 9 July 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 21 November 1916.

Admitted to 11th Australian Field Ambulance, 14 March 1917 (nervousness); rejoined Bn, in the field, 12 April 1917.

Wounded in action, 7 June 1917 (gun shot wound, back and right leg), and admitted to 9th Australian Field Ambulance; transferred to 6th General Hospital, Rouen, 11 June 1917; to England, 30 June 1917, and admitted to Richmond Military Hospital, 1 July 1917; transferred to 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, 4 July 1917; discharged to No 2 Command Depot, Weymouth, 13 July 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 20 October 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, 27 October 1917.

Wounded in action (second occasion), 4 April 1918 (gun shot wound, head); admitted to 9th Australian Field Ambulance, 6 April 1918, and transferred same day to 5th Casualty Clearing Station, and thence to No 2 Stationary Hospital, Abbeville; to England, 23 April 1918, and admitted to Royal Surrey General Hospital (affiliated to Guildford War Hospital), 24 April 1918; transferred to No 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, 10 July 1918.

Commenced return to Australia on board HS 'Kanowna', 5 January 1919; died at sea of cerebral abscess, 19 February 1919.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BECK George Thomas

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