The AIF Project

William Alfred ROBERTS

Regimental number168
Place of birthGreba, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
AddressWollombi, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation30
Height6' 1"
Weight168 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Margaret Eliz Roberts, Wollombi, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date2 January 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll2 January 1916
Rank on enlistmentLance Corporal
Unit name34th Battalion, A Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/51/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A20 Hororata on 2 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLance Sergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll20th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 September 1917
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), 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

Military Medal

'Corporal ROBERTS was conspicuous by his conduct during the LAGNICOURT operations on 15th April, 1917. During the absence of his platoon officer and Sergeant he handled his men with the greatest coolness and judgment under heavy Machine Gun and rifle fire.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 169
Date: 4 October 1917

Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked from Sydney, 2 May 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 23 June 1916. Proceeded overseas to France, 16 September 1916; joined 20th Bn with regimental no. 168A.

Wounded in action, 9 November 1916 (shell wound, thigh and right arm); admitted to 36th Casualty Clearing Station, 9 November 1916; transferred to 1st General Hospital, Etretat, 11 November 1916. Transferred to England, 24 November 1916, and admitted to 2nd General Hospital. Transferred to 2nd Auxiliary Hospital, 18 December 1916. Granted furlough (date not recorded), and marched into No. 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 30 December 1916. Proceeded overseas to France, 8 February 1917; rejoined 20th Bn, 13 February 1917.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 4 March 1917; Corporal, 1 March 1917. Awarded the Military Medal. Appointed Temporary Lance Sergeant, 9 May 1917; reverted to substantive rank of Corporal, 25 July 1917. Appointed Lance Sergeant, 25 July 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 20 September 1917.

Medals: Military Medal, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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