The AIF Project

Frank Houghton AIKEN

Regimental number4727
Place of birthWillowie, South Australia
SchoolBooleroo Whim Public School, South Australia
AddressWillowie, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation29
Height5' 8"
Weight156 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs C Aiken, Willowie, South Australia
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date6 October 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll6 October 1915
Place of enlistmentAdelaide, South Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name10th Battalion, 15th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/27/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board RMS Mongolia on 9 March 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll50th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 9 June 1917
Place of death or woundingMessines, Belgium
Date of death9 June 1917
Age at death29
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 29), 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: Hugh James and Catherine Thiza AIKEN, Booleroo Centre, South Australia
Family/military connectionsCousin: 1684 Pte James Lindsay GRAHAM, 50th Bn, killed in action, 2 April 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 7 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 14 June 1916.

Admitted to 24th General Hospital, Etaples, 20 July 1916 (mumps); transferred to Base Depot, 11 August 1916; taken on strength, 50th Bn, in the field, 6 September 1916.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 14 February 1917; Temporary Corporal, 4 April 1917.

Wounded in action, and remained at duty, 2 April 1917.

Reported missing in Action, 9 June 1917.

Court of Enquiry, held in the field, 26 November 1917, pronounced fate as 'Killed in Action, 9 June 1917'.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried 1 mile N.E. of Messines [sheet map reference].'

Statement, Red Cross File No 0030805, Captain R.G. BAYNES, 50th Bn (patient, 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, England), 13(?) August 1917: 'Aitken [sic] was a bomber in my company and took part in an attack on ... trench directly in front of Messines at 10.30 p.m. on June 9th. I was present and in command of the company. we had some difficulty in getting through the German wire. Aiken and Pte Miller of the same company bombed a German dugout and then went up the trench to the right, the rest of us turning leftwards, and got cut off from the company. We retired and re-attacked the same night, with success, but no trace of Aitken could be found in the trench.'

Second statement, 2620 Pte F.W. HARVEY, 50th Bn (patient, No 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen), 6 March 1918: 'I was in the advance at 12 noon on 9th June/17 with L/Cpl. Aitken [sic]. We were held up by barbed wire. I went to the right to try and find an opening, and he went to the left for the same purpose. I returned to the spot where I had left him, some 10 minutes afterwards, and could find no trace of him. We were under very heavy M.G. fire and slight shell fire at the time. I was the very last man who saw anything of him and never heard that he had been killed; but I think it most probable that he was blown to pieces, as I consider he was the very last man to be taken Prisoner.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, AIKEN Frank Houghton
Red Cross File No 0030805

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