The AIF Project

Arthur James COOMBES

Regimental number5060
Place of birthMount Seaview, Upper Hastings River, New South Wales
Place of birthMount Seaview, New South Wales
SchoolRollands Plains Public School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationFarmer
AddressBonny Doon, Rolland, Plains, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation35
Height5' 7.5"
Weight143 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Margaret Coombes, Bonny Doon, Rollands Plains, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date10 August 1915
Place of enlistmentHolsworthy, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Battalion, 16th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/18/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT SS Makarini on 1 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 25 July 1916
Place of death or woundingPozieres, Somme Sector, France
Age at death37
Age at death from cemetery records36
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
28
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Henry and Margaret COOMBES (nee NEILAN)
Family/military connectionsCousins: 4565 Pte Arthur COOMBES, 45th Bn, returned to Australia, 13 February 1917; 41 Pte Alfred COOMBES, 34th Bn, killed in action, 7 June 1917; 1669 Pte Matthew John COOMBES, 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery, returned to Australia, 4 May 1917; 4564 Lance Corporal Stanley COOMBES, 45th Bn, died of wounds, 12 October 1917.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 1 April 1916; disembarked Suez, 2 May 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 9 May 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 17 May 1916.

Taken on strength, 1st Bn, in the field, 7 July 1916.

Killed in action, 22-25 July 1916.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, COOMBES Arthur James

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