The AIF Project

William Arthur Harry ACKERLY

Regimental number4651
Date of birth1882
Place of birthMansfield, Victoria
SchoolMansfield State School, Victoria
ReligionMethodist
OccupationClerk
Address15 Clarendon Street, Northcote, Melbourne, Victoria
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation33
Height5' 11"
Weight123 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Alice Ackerly, 60 Mansfield Street, Northcote, Melbourne, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date20 January 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll20 January 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name21st Battalion, 12th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/38/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 4 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll21st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 25 February 1917
Place of death or woundingWarlencourt, Somme, France
Age at death35
Age at death from cemetery records35
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
93
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Harry and L.A.C. ACKERLY; husband of Alice R. ACKERLY, 15 Clarendon Street, Northcote, Victoria
Family/military connectionsBrother: 3996 Sergeant Harry Philip ACKERLY, Australian Army Pay Corps, returned to Australia, 12 July 1919.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 4 April 1916; disembarked england (date not recorded).

Proceeded overseas to France, 5 September 1916; joined 21st Bn, in the field, Belgium, 19 September 1916.

Killed in action, France, 25 February 1917.

Statement, Red Cross File No 0010706E, 4420 Pte H.L. GAMON, C Company, 21st Bn, 12 May 1917: 'He was sniped through the stomach at Ginchy and died the same day. His body was recovered and buried the same day.'

Second statement, 1589 Pte A.E. SHORT, 21st Bn (patient, 26th General Hospital, Etaples), 8 May 1917: 'I did not know Acklerly well but he was the only casualty of our patrol ... After the Germans evacuated to the left of Le Sars at thev end of February six of us and two L/Cpls. went out on patrol. We were under the cover of a bank but after the Cpl. had had a look over we all got up. No sooner had we all shown over the top than several rifles cracked and Ackerly rolled down the bank dead. It was rather curious we could only see a scratch on his forehead but he was certainly killed on the spot.'

Third statement, 582 Pte T.J. BROWN, 21st Bn (patient, No 10 General hospital, Rouen), 9 May 1917: 'Informant states that he was out on Patrol with, and next to, Ackerly when he was shot through the head by a sniper. He died, whilst Informant with others, was removing his Pay Book and one of his discs, which were handed in to Capt. Pearce of C. Coy. He was buried where he lay, according to Informant, by some men of the 27th Battn. which relieved the 21st a few days later. These men identified him by his remaining disc.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, ACKERLY William Arthur Harry
Red Cross File No 0010706E

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