The AIF Project

Claude Colin Bruce SOWTON

Regimental number3043
Place of birthParkside, Adelaide, South Australia
SchoolGlen Osmond Public School, South Australia
AddressMontrose Avenue, Norwood, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Height5' 4.25"
Weight117 lbs
Next of kinSister, Mrs Elizabeth Nicholas, Montrose Avenue, Norwood, South Australia
Previous military serviceServed in the 74th Bn, Senior Cadets; transferred to E Company, 78th Infantry, Citizen Military Forces; still serving at time of AIF enlistment.
Enlistment date15 June 1915
Place of enlistmentKeswick, South Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name16th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/33/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A70 Ballarat on 14 September 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll16th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 April 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death22
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: Nicholas and Katherine SOWTON
Family/military connectionsBrother: 20277 Gunner Nicholas Hope SOWTON, 8th Field Artillery Brigade, returned to Australia, 24 January 1919; First Cousin: 4521 Corporal Frank Leslie SOWTON, 27th Bn, died of disease, 18 April 1919.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked Alexndria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, 4 November 1915.

Taken on strength, 16th Bn, 13 November 1915.

Disembarked Alexandria, 30 December 1915 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 1 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 9 June 1916.

Wounded in action, 10 August 1916 (shell shock); admitted to 1st Anzac Rest Station, 11 August 1916; transferred to 7th Field Ambulance, 11 August 1916; to Army Corps Rest Station, 13 August 1916; to 7th Field Ambulance, 19 August 1916; to 4th Casualty Clearing Station, 20 August 1916; to Ambulance Train, 21 August 1916, and admitted to 14th General Hospital, Wimereux, 22 August 1916; to No 1 Convalescent Depot, Boulogne, 28 August 1916; to No 5 Convalescent Depot, 29 August 1916; to Base Depot, Etaples, 18 September 1916; rejoined Bn, in the field, 4 October 1916.

Reported Missing in Action, 11 April 1917.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 30 October 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 11 April 1917'.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, SOWTON Claude Colin Bruce
Red Cross File No 2580803

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