The AIF Project

Frank Gordon CAIRNS

Regimental number5065
Place of birthFootscray, Victoria
ReligionChurch of England
Address36 Moreland Road, Coburg, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation25
Height5' 6"
Weight131 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs A. Cairns, 507 Albion Street, West Brunswick, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date17 January 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name14th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/31/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A68 Anchises on 14 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll46th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 April 1917
Place of death or woundingFrance
Age at death27
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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Francis and Annie CAIRNS; husband of Florence CAIRNS, 6 Lacey Street, East Perth. Born at Melbourne
Other details

War service: Western Front

Marched into 4th Training Bn, Tel el Kebir, 15 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 7 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 14 June 1916.

Admitted to No 26 General Hospital, Etaples, 21 July 1916 (bronchitis); discharged, 28 July 1916; marched into 4th Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples, 29 July 1916.

Taken on strength of 46th Bn, in the field, 14 August 1916.

Evacuated to hospital, 17 August 1916; admitted to No 44 Casualty Clearing Station, 19 August 1916 (myalgia); transferred to No 15 Ambulance Train, 20 August 1916; to St John's Ambulance Brigade Hospital, Etaples, 21 August 1916 (myalgia and bronchitis); to England, 4 September 1916; to Middlesex War Hospital, Napsbury, 4 September 1916; to No 2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall, 26 September 1916; marched into No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 25 October 1916 (shell shock).

Granted furlough, 26 October 1916; marched into No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 11 November 1916.

Marched out to Wareham, 13 November 1917.

Marched into Infantry Training Depot, Perham Downs, 1 January 1917.

Found guilty, 24 January 1917, of being absent without leave from 1000 hours, 17 January 1917, until 1600 hours, 23 January 1917: awarded 7 days' Field Punishment No 2, and total forfeiture of 14 days' pay.

Proceeded overseas to France, 3 February 1917; marched into 4th Australian Divisional Base Depot, 4 February 1917.

Proceeded to unit, 5 February 1917; rejoined 46th Bn, 12 February 1917.

Wounded in action, 23 February 1917; admitted to No 3 Australian Field Ambulance, 24 February 1917 (shrapnel wound, left wrist); discharged, 18 March 1917; rejoined unit, 19 March 1917.

Killed in action, 11 April 1917.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, CAIRNS Frank Gordon

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