The AIF Project

Alfred THOMAS

Regimental number6379
Place of birthBallarat Victoria
ReligionMethodist
OccupationBlacksmith
AddressCulcairn, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Next of kinFather, A J Thomas, Freeburgh via Bright, Victoria
Enlistment date19 July 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name17th Battalion, 18th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/34/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A29 Suevic on 11 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollCorporal
Unit from Nominal Roll17th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 31 August 1918
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
84
Medals

Military Medal

'During operations near WESTHOEK on 20th September 1917 this man showed great determination, courage and devotion to duty. He was in the carrying platoon, the platoon commander and many of the party became casualties and it was then that he came forward and his pluck and example pulled the party through. At the completion of this work he joined a post in the line and did great work under intense artillery fire. Although wounded he kept to his post for many hours while there was a likelihood of a counter attack. He did not report to the Aid Post until ordered to do so.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31
Date: 7 March 1918

Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: Military Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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