The AIF Project

James Henry COUNSELL

Regimental number3987
Place of birthBeechworth, Victoria
OccupationBoundary rider
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19.7
Height5' 7"
Weight151 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs E Counsell, Tallangatta, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date18 January 1915
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name5th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/22/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A40 Ceramic on 23 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll5th Battalion
Other details from Roll of Honour CircularEnlisted 18 January 1915 - 12th Rfcts 5th Btn; TOS, 5 Btn 22 February 1916.
FateKilled in Action 25 July 1916
Place of death or woundingPozieres, Somme Sector, France
Age at death21
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
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Melbourne on board HT 'Ulysses' 8 May 1915; returned to Australia from Suez on board HT 'Ceramic', 25 September 1915 (venereal disease), 17 October 1915; arrived Melbourne, 17 October 1915; discharged from Langwarrin Hospital fit for duty, 22 October 1915.

Re-embarked, 23 November 1915; taken on strength, 5th Bn, Serapeum, 22 February 1916.

Transferred to Lewis Gun Section, 12 March 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 25 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 30 March 1916.

Found guilty, 11 April 1916, of being absent from Billeting Area without leave till 2100: awarded 1 day's Field Punishment No 2.

Killed in action, 25 July 1916.

Note on file: 'Buried in the vicinity of Pozieres'; grave subsequently lost.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, COUNSELL James Henry

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