The AIF Project

William Townsend ABBOTT

Regimental number805
Place of birthCross Roads, New South Wales
SchoolMoonta Public School, South Australia
ReligionMethodist
OccupationWheelwright
AddressOrroroo, South Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 6.75"
Weight134 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Emily Abbott, North Yelta, Moonta, South Australia
Previous military serviceServed for 6 months in the 24th Australian Light Horse
Enlistment date18 February 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name43rd Battalion, B Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/60/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A19 Afric on 9 June 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll43rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 31 July 1917
Age at death21.6
Age at death from cemetery records22
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.

Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Adelaide, 9 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 20 July 1916.

Found guilty, 23 October 1916, of being absent without leave from 6.30am, 21 October 1916 to 2.00pm, 21 October 1916, England: awarded 4 days confined to barracks and forfeits 1 days pay.

Embarked Southampton to join the British Expeditionary Force, France, 25 November 1916.

Killed in action, 31 July 1917.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsAttestation papers list birthplace as Moonta, South Australia
SourcesNAA: B2455, ABBOTT William Townsend

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