The AIF Project


Regimental number5582
Place of birthCo Tyrone, Ireland
ReligionChurch of England
AddressBundaberg, Queensland
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation39
Height5' 8"
Weight145 lbs
Next of kinFriend, J Piggott, Bourbon Street, Bundaberg, Queensland
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date7 February 1916
Place of enlistmentBrisbane, Queensland
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name15th Battalion, 17th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/32/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT SS Hawkes Bay on 20 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll15th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 April 1917
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 Sydney on SS 'Hawkes Bay', 20 April 1916; disembarked Egypt, 24 May 1916.

Taken on strength from reinforcements, 15th Bn, 27 May 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force on HMT 'Transylvania', 1 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 8 June 1916.

Reported 'Missing In Action', 11 April 1917; posted 'Killed In Action' by Anzac Section, 3rd Echelon, General Headquarters, British Expeditionary Force, 2 September 1917.

Statement by No 4580 Pte S. May, 15th Bn, regarding Pte J. Fitzgerald, dated at Ampton Hall, 21 July 1917: 'When returning from a message I saw him lying dead in No Man's Land at Bullecourt on the 11th day of April 1917'. Statement by No 3387 Sergeant J. McArthur, 15th Bn, regarding Private J. Fitzgerald, dated at Perham Downs, 20 August 1917: 'No.5582 Pte Fitzgerald J. 15th Btn was killed on the 11.4.17. I am certain of this as I saw the dead body in a shell hole near the German lines'.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, FITZGERALD John

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