The AIF Project

Harold Boyd WANLISS

Date of birth11 December 1898
Place of birthBallarat, Victoria
AddressRedan Street, East St Kilda, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation24
Height5' 8"
Weight170 lbs
Next of kinFather, Newton Wanliss, Redan Street, East St Kilda, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the Naval Cadets (Volunteer).
Enlistment date28 April 1915
Rank on enlistmentLieutenant
Unit name29th Battalion, 2nd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/46/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on 29 October 1915
Rank from Nominal RollCaptain
Unit from Nominal Roll14th Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Mention in Despatches

Awarded, and promulgated, 'London Gazette', second Supplement, No. 29890 (2 January 1917); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 103 (29 June 1917).

FateKilled in Action 26 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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Commemorated in Ballarat (New) Cemetery, Victoria. Headstone inscription states: 'The first Lieutenant in the A.I.F. to win the D.S.O.' Parents: Newton and Margaret WANLISS

Distinguished Service Order

'For conspicuous gallantry and determination when leading an attacking party during a raid. He forced the wire which was uncut, enetered the trench, inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, and superrvised the withdrawal. While forcing the wire he was wounded in the face; later was wounded by a bullet in the neck; and finally, when withdrawing, he was again wounded, and had to be carried in. He set a fine example to all with him.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 176
Date: 30 November 1916

Family/military connectionsUncle: 531 Pte Neville WANLISS, 21st Bn, returned to Australia, 4 May 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Allotted to and proceeded to join 14th Bn, 4 March 1916. Promoted Lieutenant, 10 April 1916.

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 1 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 8 June 1916.

Wounded in action, 2 July 1916 (gun shot wound, face and chest); admitted to 14th General Hospital, Wimereux, 6 July 1916; transferred to England, 6 July 1916, and admitted to 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, 8 July 1916. Awarded DSO,15 July 1916. Transferred to No. 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 13 September 1916; proceeded overseas to France, 25 September 1916; rejoined unit, 27 September 1916. Mentioned in Despatches, 13 November 1916.

Appointed Adjutant, 14th Bn, 4 January 1917; seconded for duty with 4th Training Bn. Promoted Captain, 6 March 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 26 September 1917.

Medals: Distinguished Service Order, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Father wrote to Base Records, 23 August 1926, seeking further investigations to locate his son's grave: ' ... In order to help you I recently called in the assistance of Captain Albert Jacka V.C. M.C. and bar ... who was a personal friend of my late son, and who was in action with him when he was killed, and knows exactly when, how and where he was killed, and where buried. He has given me the following location for my son's grave ... Captain Jacka said that if a trench is dug five (5) yards in each direction from the above point on the map, his remains should be found. As to identification, I am not in a position to say whether his identity disc was taken off before he was buried, but he should have his D.S.O. ribbon on his tunic. If however that has been removed, there is one infallible method by which the remains can be identified without any possible chance of mistake. He was accustomed to wear broad india-rubber strips across the soles of his boots, and Lieut N.C. Aldridge his second in command on the 26th Sept. 1917 who had him buried, told me that he noticed these rubber strips on his boots. My son was buried in a shell hole just near where the Battalion reached its objective. His height in life would be about 5ft 8in. I might add that only two 14th Battalion officers were killed and buried in the front line during that engagement viz. my son and 2/Lieut L H Gill. Gill's body, according to the local military authorities, seems to have been exhumed, and he appears to have been originally buried as follows ... My son was O.C. of A coy, and Gill was in B Coy, of the same Battalion, which advanced alongside, and on the left of A Coy into action. As each Company was supposed to advance on a 62 yards front, my son would probably be buried not far from Gill.'

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