The AIF Project

James Alfred SEARL

Regimental number5091
Place of birthMereweather, New South Wales
SchoolPublic School, Mereweather, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
AddressNewcastle, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation29
Next of kinWife, Mrs Edith May Searl, 78 Church Street, Newcastle, New South Wales
Enlistment date24 April 1917
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name30th Battalion, 14th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/47/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A74 Marathon on 10 May 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll36th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 2 April 1918
Place of death or woundingFrance
Date of death4 April 1918
Age at death31
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
127
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Alfred and May SEARLE, 7 Wolfe Street, Newcastle, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsCousins: Pte John CURRY, killed in action; 3740 Pte Walter James DEVER, 45th Bn, killed in action, 15 August 1916.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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