The AIF Project

Mathew McCANN

Regimental number1562
Place of birthPortadown, Co Armagh, Ireland
SchoolPortadown School, Ireland
Age on arrival in Australia20
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationLabourer
Address285 Henderson Road, Alexandria, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation44
Height5' 8.5"
Weight149 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Bridget McCann, 285 Henderson Road, Alexandria, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 13 months in the Volunteers in Scotland.
Enlistment date6 April 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name18th Battalion, 1st Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/35/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A32 Themistocles on 12 May 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll18th Battalion
FateDied of wounds 21 November 1916
Place of death or woundingFlers, France
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
86
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: John and Sarah McCANN; husband of Bridget McCANN, King Street, Gloucester, New South Wales. Native of Armagh, Ireland
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Proceeded from Egypt to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, 1 August 1915.

Wounded in action, 9 August 1915 (shrapnel wound, right leg), admitted to 2nd Field Ambulance Dressing Station, and thence to Casualty Clearing Station. Transferred to 15th General Hospital, Alexandria, 18 August 1915 (wound: severe); invalided to England, 3 September 1915, and admitted to King goerge Hospital, Stamford St, London, 13 September 1915.

Found guilty, Weymouth, 22 March 1916, of being absent without leave from 14 March to 22 March 1916: awarded forfeiture of 9 days' pay, and 120 hours' detention; forfeited total of 14 days' pay.

Returned to Egypt, and taken on strength, 5th Training Bn, Tel el Kebir, 28 April 1916.

Admitted to No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital, 4 May 1916 (old wound); transferred to Hospital Train, 5 May 1916, and admitted to No 2 Auxiliary Hospital, Heliopolis, 6 May 1916. Transferred to Red Cross Convalescent Hospital, Montazah, 9 June 1916; discharged to Tel el Kebir, 5 July 1916, and rejoined Bn.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 2 August 1916.

Admitted to 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital, Bulford, 29 August 1916; discharged from hospital, 3 October 1916; total period of treatment for venereal disease: 35 days.

Proceeded overseas to France, 2 November 1916; rejoined 18th Bn, 21 November 1916.

Wunded in action (second occasion), 21 November 1916 (shattered legs, buttock and ankle), and admitted to admitted to 5th Australian Field Ambulance Advanced Dressing Station.

Died of wounds, 21 November 1916.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Age at death52
SourcesNAA: B2455, McCANN Mathew

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