The AIF Project

William Henry DEMPSEY

Regimental number2157
Place of birthCharlton, Victoria
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationFarmer
AddressCooban, Parkes, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation34
Next of kinMother, Mrs Eliza Dempsey, Cooban, Parkes, New South Wales
Enlistment date14 February 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll2 March 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name53rd Battalion, 4th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/70/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A44 Vestalia on 11 July 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll53rd Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Military Medal


Work near Rainecourt on 11 August 1918.
Recommendation date: 23 August 1918

FateKilled in Action 11 August 1918
Age at death from cemetery records37
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
88
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Patrick Charles and Eliza DEMPSEY. Born in Victoria
Medals

Military Medal

'During the attack on the morning of 11th August, 1918 against RAINECOURT, east of AMIENS, this N.C.O showed splendid courage and initiative when attacking enemy positions. Whilst advancing his company encountered a gully strongly held by the enemy. Corporal DEMPSEY with one man commenced to deal systematically with the enemy, rushing three posts in succession, killing several, and capturing 30 prisoners and 2 machine guns.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 109
Date: 15 September 1919

Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: Military Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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