The AIF Project

Charles Patrick BESSANT

Regimental number7196
Place of birthSydney, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationMunicipal employee
AddressEast Sydney, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18.6
Height5' 3.5"
Weight112 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs S Bessant, 21 Pring Street, East Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date23 February 1917
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name4th Battalion, 24th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/21/5
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on 24 April 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll4th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularEnlisted 23 February 1917. Taken on strength, 4th Battalion, 1 January 1918.
FateKilled in Action 18 April 1918
Date of death18 April 1918
Age at death from cemetery records16
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
39
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 24 April 1917; found guilty, at sea, 6 June 1917, of conduct to the prejudice of good order and Military discipline: forfeited 2 days' pay; disembarked Plymouth, England, 17 August 1917, and marched into 1st Training Bn.

Proceeded overseas to France, 18 December 1917; joined 4th Bn, in the field, 1 January 1918.

Killed in action, 18 April 1918.

Note on file: 'Buried about 500 yards NW of Merris'; grave subsequently lost.

Statement, Red Cross File, 7263 Pte J.H. LLOYD, 4th Bn (patient, No 2 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne), 12 July 1918: 'He was killed in the same way but not at the same time and was buried the same as Binder (see Binder K. 7211). He was quite young rather sickly and had enlisted I should think under a misapprehension that the war was some sort of pic-nic but he carried on bravely enough when he found what he had to do - quite a nice chap, was from Woolomooloo Sydney, no occupation that I know of. I saw his body before burial.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsOverstated age at time of enlistment.
SourcesNAA: B2455, BESSANT Charles Patrick
Red Cross File No 0360905N

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