The AIF Project

Victor Henry ROCKLIFF

Regimental number6079
Place of birthSassafras, Tasmania
SchoolState School, Sassafras, Tasmania
AddressLatrobe, Tasmania
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation23
Next of kinFather, Mr J Rockliff, Sassafras, Tasmania
Enlistment date17 April 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name12th Battalion, 19th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/29/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Hobart, Tasmania, on board HMAT A70 Ballarat on 8 August 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll12th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour Circular

'He was awarded the Medal Medal for brave deeds in the field in the early morning of December 11th 1916, when a ration party mistaking their way walked on to the German trenches. In their hurried retreat several were wounded, Pte Rockliff stopping to drag one into a shell hole & carried another who was badly wounded back to the British lines. This work was done under heavy fire & in some darkness.' (details from father)

FateKilled in Action 05-8 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death24.3
Age at death from cemetery records24
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
Parents: John and Harriett ROCKLIFF

Military Medal

'On the morning of 11th December, 1916, whilst in FLERS SECTOR, a party of 1 Corporal and 12 men carried hot tea up to the front line just before daybreak. They unfortunately went through a gap in our wire and arrived on the German parapet before they realised what had happened. Heavy rifle fire was at once turned upon them and they ran back. Three men were wounded (two of them severely). Privates [1238 S.] Shelverton and Rockcliffe remained behind with them and assisted them back to our own trenches from the middle of No Man's Land under continued rifle and machine gun fire whilst day was fast breaking.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 133
Date: 21 August 1917

Family/military connectionsCousins: 687 Pte Ambrose Walter ROCKLIFF, 4th Machine Gun Bn, killed in action, 18 September 1918; 7225 Pte Adye Charles Henry ROCKLIFF, 47th Bn, killed in action, 5 April 1918; 2252 Pte Vernon Jack ROCKLIFF MM, 24th Bn, returned to Australia, 19 August 1919.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: Military Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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