The AIF Project

Joseph Lawrence SAWYER

Regimental number5197
Place of birthBulumwaal, Victoria
SchoolBulumwaal State School and Wonthaggi State School, Victoria
ReligionMethodist
OccupationLabourer
AddressHagelthorn Street, Wonthaggi, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18
Next of kinMother, Mrs M Sawyer, Hagelthorn Street, Wonthaggi, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the Cadets and Citizen Military Forces.
Enlistment date7 February 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name7th Battalion, 16th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/24/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on 1 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll59th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 26 September 1917
Place of death or woundingPolygon Wood, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death19.8
Age at death from cemetery records19
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
168
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Alfred and Martha SAWYER, 253 Point Nepean Road, Brighton, Victoria. Native of Bulumwaal, Victoria
Family/military connectionsBrother: 2644 Pte Leslie John SAWYER, 3rd Pioneer Bn, returned to Australia, 12 June 1919.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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