Ernest Earl RANKINS

Regimental number490
Place of birthBeechworth, Victoria
SchoolState School, Eldorado, Victoria
AddressEldorado, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Height5' 7"
Weight147 lbs
Next of kinFather, William Rankins, Eldorado, Victoria
Enlistment date23 January 1915
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name21st Battalion, B Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/38/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A38 Ulysses on 10 May 1915
Rank from Nominal RollCorporal
Unit from Nominal Roll21st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 25 February 1917
Place of death or woundingLe Sars, France
Age at death23
Age at death from cemetery records20
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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Commemorated in El Dorado Cemetery, Victoria. Parents: William (d. 21 August 1932, aged 76; bu. El Dorado Cemetery) and Annie (d. 11 October 1925, aged 65; bu. El Dorado Cemetery) RANKINS
Family/military connectionsBrother: 915 Pte William Rainald RANKINS, 32nd Bn, returned to Australia, 13 April 1919; Cousin: 877 Pte Walter Thomas HUDSWELL, 21st Bn, killed in action, 9 October 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked from Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 29 August 1915. Disembarked Alexandria ex Mudros, 7 January 1916 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 26 March 1916.

Promoted Corporal, 19 July 1916.

Admitted to 1st Anzac Rest Station, 21 August 1916 (debility); to No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station, 26 August 1916 (myalgia); to 20th General Hospital, Camiers, 28 August 1916; to England, 2 September 1916, and admitted to 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester, 3 September 1916. Proceeded overseas to France, 31 December 1916; rejoined 21st Bn, 26 January 1917.

Killed in action, 25 February 1917. Buried 3.75 miles SW of Bapaume.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal