The AIF Project


Regimental number3270
Place of birthBirkenhead, Cheshire, England
SchoolClaughton Higher Grade School, England
Age on arrival in Australia26
ReligionChurch of England
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation32
Height5' 4"
Weight112 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs E. Caffrey, 96 Grange Road, West Birkenhead, England
Previous military serviceServed in the Territorial Force, England.
Enlistment date16 July 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name2nd Battalion, 11th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/19/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 2 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll54th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 15 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death37
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
Family/military connectionsNil
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Taken on strength of 2nd Bn, Tel el Kebir, 27 January 1916.

Transferred to 54th Bn, 14 February 1916; taken on strength of 54th Bn, Tel el Kebir, 16 February 1916.

Found guilty, 31 March 1916, of (1) absenting himself from Commanding Officer's Parade, 28 March 1916; (2) of being absent without leave from 0930 hours, 28 March 1916, until 0030 hours, 30 March 1916: awarded 7 days' Field Punishment No 2, and forfeits 3 days' by Royal Warrant.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

On leave to United Kingdom, 30 December 1916; rejoined unit, 9 February 1917.

Tried by Field General Court Martial, 14 March 1917, on a charge of being absent without leave from 11 January 1917, until apprehended on 21 January 1917; pleaded guilty: awarded 60 days' Field Punishment No 2, and total forfeiture of 122 day's pay.

Killed in action, 15 May 1917.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, CAFFREY William

Print format