The AIF Project

George Charles ACKROYD

Regimental number6157
Place of birthGlenlusk, Tasmania
SchoolState School, Tasmania
ReligionWesleyan
OccupationQuarryman
Address26 Little Arthur Street, North Sydney, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation30
Height5' 7.5"
Weight150 lbs
Next of kinFather, G Ackroyd, Molesworth, Tasmania
Enlistment date20 March 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll6 March 1916
Place of enlistmentSydney, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name3rd Battalion, 19th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/20/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 22 August 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll3rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death33
Age at death from cemetery records31
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
35
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: George and Mary Jane ACKROYD, Malbina, Molesworth, Tasmania
Family/military connectionsBrother: 324 Lance Corporal John Edwin ACKROYD MM, 40th Bn, returned to Australia, 16 July 1917.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 22 August 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 13 October 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 13 February 1916; taken on strength, 3rd Bn, in the field, 19 December 1916.

Killed in action, 4 May 1917.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried in the vicinity of Maricourt Wood'.

Note, Red Cross File No 0010902C: 'No trace Germany[.] Cert. by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Statement, 1433 Lance Corporal S.H. SMITH, B Company, 3rd Bn (patient, King George Hospital, Stamford Street, London, England), 24 October 1917: 'I have seen his grave. It is near Buire (?) [.] I can't remember the name of the place.'

Second statement, Lt W.F. ELLIOTT, 3rd Bn (patient, 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, England),10 October 1917: 'He was killed in a front line trench, east of Bullecourt and buried on the spot. I have seen his grave marked with a cross. He was in my Company. The same report applies to the following: McGrath H.T.J. 2149 Lce Sgt. Killed 3.5.17; Sinclair H.R.J. 4299 Pte. Killed 5.5.17; Bean J.S. 6459 Pte. Killed 5.5.17.'

Third statement, 6083 Pte J.C. ROHAN, 3rd Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 16 October 1917: 'I saw him killed outright by a bomb at Bullecourt while we were consolidating. Marked grave extremely doubtful under the prevailing conditions. Was wounded myself just afterwards.'

Fourth statement, 4464 Pte H. ELVIN, D Company, 3rd Bn (patient, 57th General Hospital, Rouen), 6 October 1917: 'Early in the morning of May 4th, we were holding a part of the Hindenburg line [sic] when we were attacked by the Germans[.] I was close to Ackroyd at the time, and he was killed by a bomb. I saw him fall, and his death was instantaneous. He was buried with many others near the trench and during the night.'

Fifth statement, 1294 Pte A.E. LENNON, 3rd Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 5 September 1917: 'He was in D. Coy[.] Was killed at Bullecourt near [the] Hindenburg line on May 4th. He was badly knocked about by [a] shell. I saw his dead body lying there afterwards and his body was still in the trench when I left. He would be taken away and buried.'

Sixth statement, 2154 Pte R. JONES, 3rd Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 27 August 1917: 'Killed at Bullecourt[;] he was lying out on a trench near the German line wounded by a bomb. Fritz came over a second time bombing and finished him. I was near him at the time, he was in my section I knew him well. He shaved off his moustache 3 weeks before we went to Bullecourt.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Place of burialNAA B2455 file 3019381; Red Cross File No 0010902C

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