The AIF Project

James Richard SURCH

Regimental number6167
Place of birthStratford-on-Avon, England
ReligionChurch of England
AddressSouthport, Queensland
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation28
Next of kinWife, Mrs Ada Surch, Southport, Queensland
Enlistment date10 October 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name26th Battalion, 17th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/43/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Brisbane, Queensland, on board HMAT A75 Marathon on 27 October 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll26th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 August 1918
Age at death from cemetery records30
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: James R. and Emily SURCH; Wife: Ada Elizabeth WILLIAMS (formerly SURCH)
Other details

War service: embarked from Brisbane, 27 October 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 9 January 1917, and taken on strength, 7th Training Bn.

Proceeded overseas to France, 22 May 1917; taken on strength, 26th Bn, 12 June 1917.

Admitted to 5th Australian Field Ambulance, Belgium, 13 October 1917 (conjunctivitis); rejoined Bn, 17 October 1917.

Wounded in action (gassed), 29 October 1917; admitted to 10th Casualty Clearing Station. Transferred to England, 15 November 1917; admitted to Bath War Hospital, 16 November 1917; transferred to 3rd Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, 5 December 1917. Granted furlough, 7-21 January 1918, to report to No. 3 Command Depot, Hurdcott. Rejoined Bn in the field, 6 May 1918.

Killed in action, 11 August 1918.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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