The AIF Project

John Henry FREEMAN

Regimental number1915
Place of birthWamboota, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationFarm labourer
AddressWamboota via Moama, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation38
Height5' 8.5"
Weight141 lbs
Next of kinFather, E Freeman, Wamboota via Moama, New South Wales
Enlistment date29 February 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll1 April 1916
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name46th Battalion, 3rd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/63/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A7 Medic on 20 May 1916
Regimental number from Nominal Roll1915A
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll46th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 June 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 27), 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
141
Family/military connectionsBrother: 1914 Pte Francis Harold FREEMAN, 46th Bn, returned to Australia, 23 July 1919.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Marched in to 12th Training Bn, Rollestone, 21 July 1916.Proceeded overseas to France, 22 September 1916; joined 46th Bn, in the field, 4 October 1916.

Admitted to 12th Australian Field Ambulance, 25 October 1916 (acute rheumatism); transferred to 3rd Casualty Clearing Station, 26 October 1916; to 15th Casualty Clearing Station, 26 October 1916; discharged to duty, 2 November 1916; rejoined Bn, in the field, 5 November 1916.

Allotted letter 'A' owing to duplication of Regimental Number.

Wounded in action, 11 April 1917 (gun shot wound, left arm), and admitted 56th Casualty Clearing Station; transferred to Ambulance Train No 11, 12 April 1917, and admitted to No 1 General Hospital, Etretat, 13 April 1917; transferred to No 4 Convalescent Depot, Havre, 19 April 1917; to 4th Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples, 10 May 1917; rejoined Bn, in the field, Belgium, 17 May 1917.

Killed in action, 11 June 1917.

Buried by Chaplain, 12th Brigade. Grave subsequently lost.

Statement, Red Cross File No 1110710, 2774 Pte W.L. WILKINSON, D Company, 46th Bn (patient, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans, England), 25 October 1917: 'I was buried by a shell and the same shell buried J.H. Freeman as well but he was killed outright. I cannot give the correct date but he was killed six days after the start of the push at Messines. [Handwritten addendum: 'Buried on hill'.] Interviewer added: 'Informant says the man was old, seemed to him to be about 60 years - at any rate he was between 50 and 60.'

Second statement, 1913 Pte C.E. FRIBERG, 14 November 1917: 'He and 5 others were killed by one shell near Messines in a trench on June 11th; they were all killed outright. They were taken out and buried close by.'

Third statement, 1920 Corporal A.C. GREENHAM, D company, 46th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 31 October 1917: 'I saw him killed at Messines. He was caught by a shell and very badly knocked about[,] death being instantaneous.'

Fourth statement, 1731 Corporal J.A. Hall, 15th Bn, 26 February 1918: 'I was with a burial party near Messines between Messines Ridge and Warneton, about 2 days after 11th June and we buried five or six men - 3 or perhaps more of the 46th Battn. [in] separate graves. I erected a little cross over Freeman's grave, the only one, as it was all the wood we could get. I marked in plainly with indelible pencil from the disc which I later gave to our Adjt. I think the grave would be registered. I couldn't get discs from the others so I don't know their names. Freeman was wounded in chest and not mutilated.'

Fifth statement, Captain B. ATKINSON, Adjutant, 15th Bn, 5 november 1917: 'Inquiries made amongst the members of this unit have established the fact that Pte. Freeman was buried with a number of others about 12/6/17. His was the only case in which it was possible to establish identification.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, FREEMAN John Henry
Red Cross File No 1110710

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