The AIF Project

Cyril Wilson AKHURST

Regimental number2990
Place of birthMinmi, New South Wales
Other NamesCyril Wilton
SchoolGloucester Public School, New South Wales
AddressGloucester, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 5.25"
Weight126 lbs
Next of kinFather, F B Akhurst, Gloucester, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date126
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll2 August 1915
Place of enlistmentNewcastle, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name3rd Battalion, 9th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/20/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A8 Argyllshire on 30 September 1915
Rank from Nominal RollCorporal
Unit from Nominal Roll55th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 10 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death22
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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Frederick Benjamin AKHURST.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Admitted to 4th Auxiliary Hospital, Abbassia, 10 November 1915 (mumps); discharged to unit, 16 December 1915.

Taken on strength, 3rd Bn, Tel el Kebir, 21 January 1916.

Transferred to 55th Bn, 13 February 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Admitted to 14th Field Ambulance, 8 November 1916 (influenza), and transferred to Corps Rest Station; rejoined Bn, in the field, 14 November 1916.

Appointed Corporal, 24 April 1917.

Killed in action, 10 May 1917.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried between Noreuil and Riencourt.'

Statement, Red Cross File No 0040305, `694 Pte T. McCRORY, B Company, 50th Bn (patient, 5th Southern General Hospital, Southsea, England), 9 August 1917: 'At Bullecourt on May 10th we were holding the line in a first line trench. [W]e had just been relieved from our observation post and were lying down in the dugout, when a shell came over and buried two men, Akhurst and another Lewis Gunner called O'Shea, 4939, B. Coy. VI Pl. We dug them out at once but both were dead, killed by shell fumes and dirt. We buried them where they were killed, and the Battalion put up a cross on the grave with the 2 men's names etc., on it. Akhurst was attached to VI Pltn.'

Second statement, 2415 Corporal A.G. PENNY, 55th Bn, 21 July 1917: 'This man was killed at night time having just taken over the Lewis Gun with another man called Pte O'Shea. A shell came over and buried the two of them. I helped to dig them both out and they were buried in the sunken road close to where they were killed in front of Noreuil close to Bullecourt.'

Third statement, 2417 Pte J. GORMAN, B Company, 55th Bn [no date]: 'I saw his grave about a mile to the right of Bullecourt in a Sunken Road (this road comes out from Bullecourt). There is a village in the hands of the Germans opposite it. I do not remember its name. A trench runs from Noreuil past the grave to Bullecourt. There is a cross with his name, battalion, and number on it. I could point out the place.'

Fourth statement, 3192 Pte McKINNON, B Company, 55th Bn, 10 August 1917: 'He was killed by a shell at Bullecourt and died before we could dig him out. We buried him alongside, in the sunken road, and about 30 yards from the Battalion H.Q. There were several other graves there.'

Fifth statement, 2994 Pte V. WEBB, 55th Bn, 1 September 1917: 'I saw his body on a stretcher after he had been hit either by a Minniewerfer or a shell at Bullecourt on May 10th. This was in our front line trench. He was buried by the Sunken Road in our Support Line.'

Sixth statement, 2872 Pte W.A. MASON, 55th Bn, 3 October 1917: 'They [AKHURST and 179 Lance Corporal L.C. SHEPHERD] were both buried at Noreuil with several other L.G. [Lewis Gunners] 12 in one grave and there is a big cross erected by the Regimental Pioneers.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, AKHURST Cyril Wilson
Red Cross File No 0040305

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