The AIF Project

Albert Ernest FREE

Regimental number414
Place of birthCorack, Victoria
SchoolTalgitcha State School No. 3347, Victoria
AddressLalbert, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation22.3
Height5' 6.25"
Weight155 lbs
Next of kinFather, Samuel Free, Lalbert, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date24 July 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit nameMachine Gun Company 15, Reinforcement 6
AWM Embarkation Roll number24/20/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A17 Port Lincoln on 20 October 1916
Regimental number from Nominal Roll414A
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll3rd Machine Gun Battalion
FateKilled in Action 12 October 1917
Place of death or woundingPasschendaele, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death23
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 7), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Samuel and Fanny FREE, Lalbert, Victoria
Family/military connectionsBrother: 415B Pte Samuel John FREE, 3rd Machine Gun Bn, died of wounds, 26 May 1918.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 20 October 1916; transshipped at Sierra Leone to HMAT A38 'Ulysses', 5 December 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 28 December 1916; marched into Details, 6&7 Camps, Perham Downs, 29 December 1916.

Transferred to 4th Division Machine Gun Company, 23 February 1917.

Allotted Regimental Number 414A.

Proceeded overseas to France, 11 May 1917; taken on strength, 10th Machine Gun Company, in the field, 16 June 1917.

Reported missing in action, 12 October 1917.

Court of Enquiry, 4 May 1918, concluded: 'Killed in action, Belgium, 12 October 1917.'

Statement, Red Cross File No 11160601A, 599 Pte G.L. DENNAN, 10th Machine Gun Company, 14 November 1919: 'He was with the Company at Passchendaele Ridge on the 12th October 1917, and was wounded with a machine gun bullet. He was left behind as we advanced, nothing was heard of him afterwards, although all kinds of enquiries were held with no result. Was known to all as "Bert".'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, FREE Albert Ernest
Red Cross File No 11160601A

Print format    

© The AIF Project 2024, UNSW Canberra. Not to be reproduced without permission.