Louis Norman STAFFORD

Place of birthCootamundra, New South Wales
SchoolFort Street Model School, Sydney, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationSenior mechanic, telephones
Address139 Queen Street, Woollahra, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation26
Height5' 10"
Weight154 lbs
Next of kinFather, Herbert Stafford, 139 Queen Street, Woollahra, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed with Citizen Military Forces for 3 years in Rifle Regiment.
Enlistment date8 September 1915
Place of enlistmentWarwick Farm, New South Wales
Rank on enlistment2nd Lieutenant
Unit name55th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/72/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A15 Port Sydney on 4 September 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll55th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Place of death or woundingVillers-Bretonneux, France
Age at death29
Age at death from cemetery records29
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: Herbert and Emily Malvina STAFFORD, 139 Queen Street, Woollahra, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrother: Lt Archie Francis Geraldra STAFFORD, Australian Flying Corps, returned to Australia, 31 July 1918.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 4 September 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 29 October 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 2 February 1917; marched into 5th Australian Divisional Base Depot, Etaples, 2 February 1917.

Proceeded to unit, 10 February 1917; taken on strength of 55th Bn, in the field, 12 February 1917.

Detached to 1st Anzac Infantry School, 13 May 1917.

Promoted Lieutenant, 22 May 1917.

Rejoined 55th Bn from 1st Anzac Infantry School, 20 June 1917.

To Anzac Trench Mortar School, 6 August 1917; rejoined unit, 25 August 1917.

On leave to United Kingdom, 10 January 1918.

Admitted to No 3 London General Hospital, 24 January 1918 (trench fever?); discharged, 16 February 1918, and marched into No 1 Command Depot, Sutton Veny, 16 February 1918.

Marched into No 3 Details Camp, Parkhouse, 19 February 1918.

Marched out to Overseas Training Bde, Longbridge Deverill, 8 April 1918.

Proceeded overseas to France, 18 April 1918; marched into Australian Intermediate Base Depot, 20 April 1918.

Proceeded to unit, 22 April 1918; rejoined 55th Bn, 12 May 1918.

Killed in action, 4 July 1918.

Statement by Lieutenant H. Miller, Adjutant, 55th Bn: 'Lieut. Stafford was killed during a raid on the enemy's position to the S.W. of MORLANCOURT SOMME on the 4th July. 1918. Lieut. Stafford and party met strong resistance from the enemy and a fierce hand-to-hand fight ensured. After shooting several Boche with his revolver, Lieut. Stafford was himself killed by a rifle bullet. The remainder of the party were unable to carry his body back to our lines, which was never recovered, and subsequent searches failed to reveal any traces of burial by the enemy.'

Note, Red Cross File No 2600402E: 'No trace Germany. Cert. by Capt. Mills 10.10.19.'

Statement, 28256 Quartermaster Sergeant J.J. FRASER, 30 September 1918: 'On the morning of July 4th. on the Morlancourt Sector. there was a raid of picked men of the Battalion under Lieut. Chadwick, Lieut. stafford, and Lieut. Piddington. Lieut. Stafford was senior Lieut. of the party. On the right of the enemy lines Lieut. Stafford fell killed and Lieut. Chadwick took over Command. Lieut. Chadwick reported hsving to leave Mr. Stafford's body up by the enemy's lines.'

Second statement, 2512 Corporal A. WILLIAMS, D company, 55th Bn, 30 September 1918: 'He was with a raiding party and Private Swift of A. or B. Company[,] I think he was Mr. Stafford's batman at the time, told me that he saw him shot asnd fall into the German trench. He retired to our lines and I don't know if his body was recovered.'

Third statement, 2627 Pte N. CLARKE, A Company, 55th Bn, 2 October 1918: 'He was killed instantly by a revolver bullet at Morlancourt while on a raiding party at dawn in the German support lines. I do not know if his body was brought in.'

Fourth statement, 3665 Pte J. DUNKER, 55th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 3 October 1918: 'Pte. E.R. Wright (C. Company) who is at present with the Battn. told me he was with Mr. Stafford when he was killed. He said Mr. Stafford jumped in a trench in which were about 20 Germans and bayonted one, when the German Officer shot him dead. Wright could give all information.'

Fifth statement, 4916 Pte L. WOODS, C Company, 55th Bn (patient, 74th General Hospital), 3 October 1918: 'I saw this officer shot by a bullet from a German officer (killed) at Morlancourt on the 4th July 1918. He was buried at La Passage, on about the 6th July 1918.'

Sixth statement, 2858 Pte M. KLEMM, A Company, 55th Bn, 3 October 1918: 'He was our Platoon Officer, and was in charge of a raid in front of Meteren. We started at daybreak, but had to go through our own barrage which caused a lot of casualties at the start, only about half a dozen reached the German support line, and he jumped right into the trench and was shot by a revolver. Pte Swift of A. Coy. was on top of the trench and shot the man with the revolver. Pte Swift is still with the Battn. Cpl Gear was sent back after our last advance to try and find his grave, but did not succeed. I was one of the raiding party.'

Seventh statement, 394 Pte C.E. PRYCE, D Company, 55th Bn, 9 October 1918: 'We had a raid on July 4th at the right of the Corbie-Bray road. I was with Stafford and we got right up to the German Trenches when a German officer shot him with a revolver, killing him outright. We had to fall back then, and the dead had to be left where they lay. It was not until about July 28 that the German lines were taken by another party, so I cannot say whether stafford's body was recovered.'

Eighth statement, 5361 Pte J. DICKENS, A Company, 55th Bn, 4 October 1918: 'He was killed during a raid in front of Morlancourt in the Sailly le Sec Sector. He was the O.C. of our Company; the only Officer who went over with our Company. Lieut. Piddington was in another Company working beside us. We were in the second wave; the other two Companies had to go to the first line and we had to go through them to the second line. The barbed wire in the second line was very thick in places and had not been touched. Our own barrage had fallen on us and we were therefore doubly delayed. Lieut. Stafford found a path through the wire and got into a trench with one or two other men. He found this occupied by the enemy of whom he immediately shot one man with his revolver and then was shot himself by one of the enemy. His own batman turned round and killed Lieut. Stafford's assailant. The batman's name was Private Swift ... He is a friend of mine and told me all this. I was near at the time but did not actually see all this, not being able to get through the wire (we had not got the clippers). I was batman to Lieut. stafford myself for a few weeks. His body was never recovered but since that time Swift has been sent down to see if there is any Cross there. A Cross was found close to where he was killed but nothing definite to show it was Lieut. Staffords [sic]. We had to evacuate the position after the operation described above.'A further ten statements on the file.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, STAFFORD Louis Norman
Red Cross File No 2600402E