The AIF Project

James Henry TODKILL

Regimental number6896
Place of birthLongreach, New South Wales
SchoolPublic School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
AddressBrayton, via Marulan, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation37
Height5' 7.5"
Weight138 lbs
Next of kinFather, Samuel Todkill, Brayton, via Marulan, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date23 April 1917
Place of enlistmentGoulburn, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name19th Battalion, 20th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/36/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A16 Port Melbourne on 16 July 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll35th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 April 1918
Age at death from cemetery records38
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
126
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Samuel and Elizabeth TODKILL, Brayton, New South Wales
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 16 July 1917; disembarked Liverpool, England, 16 September 1917, and marched in to 6th Training Bn, Rollestone.

Proceeded overseas to France, 23 January 1918; taken on strength, 35th Bn, in the field, 28 January 1918.

Killed in action, 4 April 1918.

Statement, Red Cross File No 2760301, 6849 Pte C.G. WILKINSON, A Company, 35th Bn, 25 April 1918: 'I was alongside him at the back of the Churchyard at Villers Bretoneux [sic] on the morning of the 4th April 1918, as we were retiring, when he was killed instantly by a bullet through the head and his body left behind on ground now held by the enemy.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, TODKILL James Henry
Red Cross File No 2760301

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