The AIF Project

Robert PLAIN

Regimental number1215
AddressCessnock, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation22.5
Height5' 3"
Weight136 lbs
Next of kinFather, Robert Plain, Harris Street, Cessnock, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date11 February 1916
Place of enlistmentWest Maitland, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name34th Battalion, D Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/51/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A20 Hororata on 2 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll34th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 12 October 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 2 May 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 23 June 1916.

Admitted to 9th Field Hospital,, 4 September 1916; transferred to 1st Australian Dermatogical Hospital, Bulford, 9 September 1916; discharged from hospital, 25 October 1916; total period of treatment for venereal disease: 47 days.

Proceeded overseas to France, 21 November 1916.

Admitted to 10th Field Ambulance, 14 December 1916 (pleurisy); transferred to 8th Casualty Clearing station, 15 December 1916; to Ambulance Train No 19, 19 December 1916, and admitted to 13th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne (pneumonia); transferred to England, 1 January 1917, and admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham, 4 January 1917 (broncho-pneumonia: severe); discharged on furlough, 7 February 1917, to report to Command Depot, Perham Downs, 22 February 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 23 August 1917.

Found guilty, 29 August 1917, of when on Active Service being out of bounds: being in a café during prohibited hours: awarded 2 days' Field Punishment No 2.

Taken on strength, 34th Bn, in the field, 2 September 1917.

Detached to Bath Picquet, 14 September 1917; rejoined unit from detachment, 23 September 1917.

Reported missing in action, 12 October 1917.

Now, 26 May 1918, reported 'Killed in action, 12 October 1917'.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried'; grave subsequently lost.

Note on Red Cross File No 21701071: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills 10/10/19.'

Statement, 1835 Pte J.O.F. METCALFE, D Company, 34th Bn, 16 May 1918: 'He was in D. Coy. 16th. Pltn. He was killed by a shell at Passchendaele on October 12th and Private J. BAKERS, 34th Battn, D. 16, told me about December 3rd. or 4th that he buried Plain on about October 13th. Plain was a little nuggetty chap, fair, married. We called him "Bobby".'

Second statement, 1184 Pte F.W. MORRISON, D Company, 34th Bn (patient, No 1 Australian General Hospital, Rouen, 26 September 1918): Plain was alongside [1055 A.R.] Allen when the latter was wounded ... Plain was wounded about the same time by a sniper. He was hit somewhere in the neck and died of his wound before we evacuated. There was never any hope for him from the moment he was hit. Plain was very short - 5'3" about, fair hair, fresh complexion, and a nice chap to speak to. He came from Scone, N.S.W. He was only a yound chap - about 23.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, PLAIN Robert
Red Cross File No 21701071

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