The AIF Project

William Norman BIGNELL

Regimental number6469
Place of birthCunnamulla, Queensland
SchoolGrammar School, Toowoomba, Queensland
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationGrazier
AddressHirst Vale, Sugden Post Office via Greenmount, Queensland
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation28
Height6' 0"
Weight168 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs M A Bignell, Hirst Vale, Sugden Post Office via Greenmount, Queensland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date29 May 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll29 June 1916
Place of enlistmentToowoomba, Queensland
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name9th Battalion, 21st Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/26/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A36 Boonah on 21 October 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll9th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 7 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Date of death7 May 1917
Age at death28
Age at death from cemetery records29
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
55
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Edmund and Marion BIGNELL, Sugden, Queensland
Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BIGNELL William Norman

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