The AIF Project

George Oluf TOWNSEND

Regimental number5756
Place of birthCharters Towers, Queensland
ReligionChurch of England
AddressTenth Avenue, South Townsville, Queensland
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation28
Next of kinMother, Mrs M Townsend, Tenth Avenue, South Townsville, Queensland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date17 January 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name9th Battalion, 18th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/26/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A49 Seang Choon on 4 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll9th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 September 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 17), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Proceeded from Alexandria to England, 29 July 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 14 October 1916. Admitted to 24th General Hospital, Etaples, 5 November 1916 (mumps); transferred to 14th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, 26 November 1916; to No. 1 Convalescent Depot, 29 November 1916; discharged to Base Depot, 8 December 1916; taken on strength, 9th Bn, 17 January 1917.

Reported missing in action, Belgium, 20 September 1917. ; confirmed as killed in action by Court if Enquiry, 8 April 1918. Statement made by 5160 Pte T. O'DONOHUE, 9th Bn, Hurdcott, 2 January 1918: '[TOWNSEND] was in the same Lewis Gun section as myself. On the morning of 20th September 1917, we were advancing to the attack near Glencourse Wood, Belgium. About 7 a.m. a shell landed and wounded three (3) of us including Townsend and myself. Private Townsend was wounded in the stomach, leg and part of his right finger blown away. About two (2) hours later, I saw him lying on a stretcher outside the Advanced Dressing Station in the sunken road behind Glencorse Wood. He looked very bad but was conscious. As the A.M.C. were taking particulars of other men there, I am surprised that Private Townsend should be missing. I think the A.M.C. of the 10th Battn. were at the Dressing station at the time.' Statement by 5660 J. CASSIDY, 9th Bn, Harefield, 5 April 1918: 'The last I saw of Private Townsend was about 600 yards in front of our objective, he was then dead, and he appeared to be very badly knocked about in the head and body.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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