The AIF Project

Simpson Armstrong RAY

Regimental number125
Place of birthDurham, England
SchoolGalleys Field School, Hartlepool, Durham, England
Age on arrival in Australia18
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation24.9
Height5' 7.5"
Weight154 lbs
Next of kinFather, Thomas Ray, 6 Queen Street, Hartlepool, Durham, England
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date3 April 1916
Place of enlistmentSydney, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name3rd Divisional Cyclist Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number12/6/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on 18 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll53rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 24 October 1916
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
Other details

War service: Western Front

Marched into Australian Cyclist Training Bn, Chiseldon, 31 July 1916.

Found guilty, 25 September 1916, of being absent without leave from 2400, 21 September, till 1200, 23 September 1916: awarded 6 days' confined to barracks, and forfeited 2 days' pay under Royal Warrant.

Proceeded overseas to France, 30 September 1916; taken on strength, 53rd Bn, in the field, 15 October 1916.

Reported missing in action, 24 October 1916.

Court of Enquiry, 2 September 1917, concluded: 'Killed in action, 24 October 1916'.

Statement, Red Cross File No 2250106G, 5700 Pte George Henry LUCRE, 53rd Bn (patient, 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol), 29 October 1916: 'I knew Ray well. He was killed by a shell, buried in fact or blown to pieces by a shell on the Somme near High Wood. C. Coy. was in the front line that day, and B. Coy. was not in the Front line but in support. Ray went up to the front to speak to his mate, when a shell burst at the place. He was never found after that, but his rifle was found just where he had been sitting. I was told this by Ray's mate whose name I cannot give.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, RAY Simpson Armstrong
Red Cross File No 2250106G

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