The AIF Project

James William GERLACH

Regimental number495
Place of birthCheshire, England
Other NamesGERLACH, George
ReligionChurch of England
AddressThorpdale, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Height5' 5.5"
Weight133 lbs
Next of kinR H Miller, Thorpdale, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed for 3.5 years in the 13th Light Horse Regiment, Gippsland; still serving at time of AIF enlistment.
Enlistment date21 September 1914
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll22 September 1914
Place of enlistmentThorpdale, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentDriver
Unit name8th Light Horse Regiment, Machine Gun Section
AWM Embarkation Roll number10/13/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board TRANSPORT A16 Star Of Victoria on 25 February 1915
Regimental number from Nominal Roll721
Rank from Nominal RollCorporal
Unit from Nominal Roll23rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 28 July 1916
Miscellaneous details (Nominal Roll)Listed on Nominal Roll as 495 Pte James William GERLACH, 8th Light Horse Regiment, effective abroad (still overseas).
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

Enlisted, Thorpdale, Victoria, 21 September 1914, and served with the 8th Light Horse Machine Gun Section; went absent without leave, 3 February 1915; struck off strength as a deserter, 27 February 1915.

Re-enlisted, Melbourne, 26 February 1915, as George GERLACH.

Embarked Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli.

Promoted Sergeant, 23rd Bn, 12 October 1915; reverted to Private, 25 October 1915.

To hospital, 23 November 1915; rejoined Bn, 27 November 1915 (no further details recorded).

Promoted Lance corporal, 24 November 1915; Corporal, 25 November 1915.

Disembarked Alexandria from Mudros, 10 January 1916 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 26 March 1916.

Killed in action,28 July 1916.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, GERLACH James William

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