The AIF Project

John Frederick BREN

Regimental number4988
Place of birthToolleen, Mount Pleasant, Victoria
SchoolRushworth State School, Victoria
ReligionRoman Catholic
AddressRushworth, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Height5' 8"
Weight148 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Elizabeth Bren, Rushworth, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the Cadets and the Infantry, Citizen Military Forces.
Enlistment date24 February 1916
Place of enlistmentSeymour, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name22nd Battalion, 13th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/39/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A33 Ayrshire on 3 July 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll22nd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 3 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullecourt, France
Age at death21.1
Age at death from cemetery records21
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: Henry Thomas and Elizabeth BREN, Rushworth Post Office, Victoria
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 3 July 1916; disembarked Plymouth, England, 2 September 1916, and marched in to 6th Training Bn.

Proceeded overseas to France, 22 november 1916; joined 22nd Bn, in the field, 24 November 1916.

Admitted to 6th Australian Field Ambulance, 27 February 1917 (diptheria); discharged to duty, and rejoined Bn, 5 March 1917.

Killed in action, 3 May 1917.

Statement, Red Cross File No 0520206, 1711 Sergeant H. NORMAN (patient, 3rd General Hospital, Le Treport), 11 April 1918: 'Pte. W.C. Dunk, C. Coy, with the Battalion recently, told me that he saw him shot through the head by a German sniper in the trench across the railway at Bullecourt. He is almost certain to have been buried where he fell as was almost everyone else killed at that time.'

Second statement, 5055 Pte W.R. MEIKLE, C Company, 22nd Bn, 28 November 1917: 'Pte. O.T. Wilton of the 22nd battn. [sic], C Co., 12th Pltn ... told me he saw Bren killed at Bullecourt on the 3rd May, sniped through the forehead and killed at once.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BREN John Frederick
Red Cross File No 0520206

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