The AIF Project


Regimental number2998
Place of birthColeraine, Co Derry, Ireland
SchoolMacosquin National School, Coleriane, Co Derry, Ireland
Age on arrival in Australia32
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation39
Height5' 6"
Weight138 lbs
Next of kinFather, D. McCandless, Warren Cottage, Port Stewart, Co Derry, Ireland
Previous military serviceServed for 8 years in the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers, British Army; 4 years in the Reserves; saw service in the Boer War.
Enlistment date5 February 1916
Place of enlistmentSydney, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name31st Battalion, 5th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/48/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A68 Anchises on 14 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll31st Battalion
FateDied of wounds 29 September 1918
Age at death from cemetery records42
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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: David and Nancy McCANDLESS, Warren Cottage, Port Stewart, Co Derry, Ireland
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Admitted to No 2 Stationary Hospital, tel el Kebir; discharged to 8th Training Bn, 15 May 1916.

Found guilty, Tel el Kebir, 7 May 1916, of while on Active service conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline: creating a disturbance after lights out by talking in a loud voice: admonished.

Embarked Alexandria, 6 June 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 16 June 1916.

Joined Bn in the field in France, 30 September 1916.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 8 October 1916. Promoted Corporal, 16 January 1917.

On leave to England, 1 June 1917; admitted to 3rd Canadian General Hospital while returning from leave, 13 June 1917; transferred to No 7 Convalescent Depot, 20 June 1917 (abscess); to No 10 Convalescent Depot, 22 June 1917;

On leave to United Kingdom, 29 August 1918; rejoined unit from leave, 16 September 1918.

Found guilty by Field General Court Martial, 13 September 1917, of when on Active Service without a reasonable excuse attemting to escape a person committed to his charge in that he at Harfleur on 2nd Sept 917 when in charge of a guard permitted the escape of [1561] Pte Ralph CONLON, 55th Bn] committed to his charge: pleaded Not Guilty: reduced to the rank of Corporal.

Wounded in action (second occasion), 26 September 1917 (gun shot wound, back); admitted same day to 6th Australian Field Ambulance, and transferred to 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station; transferred to Ambulance Train, 27 September 1917, and admitted to 18th General Hospital, Camiers, 27 September 1917; to No 6 Convalescent Depot, Etaples, 12 October 1917; to No 7 CD, Boulogne, 14 October 1917; to No 10 CD, Escault, 20 October 1917; to No 13 CD, 4 November 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, 8 March 1918.

On leave to United Kingdom, 29 August 1918; rejoined Bn from leave, 16 September 1918.

Wounded in action, machine gun bullet in the head, during operations on the outskirts of Bellicourt; rendered unconscious, 29 September 1918; died of wounds same day at dressing station.

Buried in the vicinity of Bellicourt.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, McCANDLESS David

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