The AIF Project

Wallis Crossley RANKINE

Regimental number5206
Place of birthBerrick, Victoria
SchoolPublic School
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationBank clerk
AddressGeelong, Victoria
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation26
Height5' 10.5"
Weight140 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs. N. Rankine, c/o Mrs. McNamara, Eastern Creek, Rooty Hill, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date14 July 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll11 August 1915
Place of enlistmentWarwick Farm, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Battalion, 16th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/18/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT SS Makarini on 1 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 5 November 1916
Place of death or woundingFlers, France
Age at death30
Age at death from cemetery records30
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
30
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: George and Eva RANKINE; Wife Ellen RANKINE, 'Nevada', 8 Regent Street, Summer Hill, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrother in law: killed in action July 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 1 April 1916; disembarked Suez, 2 May 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 9 May 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 17 May 1916.

Admitted to 26th General Hospital, Etaples, 20 May 1916 (eyes); discharged to duty, 13 June 1916, and marched into Base Depot, Etaples.

Taken on strength, 1st Bn, in the field, 27 July 1916.

Reported missing in action, 5 November 1916.

Court of Enquiry, 13 June 1917, concluded: 'Killed in action, 5 November 1916.'

Statement, Red Cross File, 64 Pte F.A. TEAKLE, 7 March 1917: 'Witness saw soldier killed during a charge on Bayonet and Hill trench, to the right of Fleurs (sic). While crossing No Man's land, soldier, who was alongside witness, was killed by a Machine Gun bullet, death being instantaneous. Witness does not know if soldier is buried.'

Second statement, 585 Pte James MARR, 1st Bn, 28 April 1917: 'Their bodies [RANKINE and 24 others] were found all in a heap to the left of Guedecourt just in front of Bayonet trench on March 3rd, 1917. They had been killed by M.G. fire on November 5th in the Flers charge. They were buried in shell holes all about where they were lying. I saw all the bodies and remember the names. Lt. H.A. A'Beckett, C. Coy. was present and kept a records.'

Grave subsequently lost.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsFirst given name incorrectly entered on Embarkation Roll as Wallace.
SourcesNAA: B2455, RANKINE Wallis Crossley
Red Cross File No 2240503G

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