The AIF Project

Henry Victor WILLIS

Regimental number983
Place of birthAlberton, Victoria
SchoolAlberton State School No 1, Victoria
ReligionPresbyterian
OccupationFarm Labourer
AddressAlberton, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Height5' 4.75"
Weight155 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs. Janet Willis, Alberton, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil (lived in exempt area under Compulsory Military Training scheme)
Enlistment date14 July 1915
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name31st Battalion, D Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/48/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A62 Wandilla on 9 November 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll31st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 21 July 1916
Age at death from cemetery records20
Place of burialFromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery (Plot II, Row F, Grave No 11), France
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
119
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: John and Janet WILLIS
Family/military connectionsBrother: David Geoffrey WILLIS, died in camp, October 1916; did not embark.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Disembarked Suez, ex 'Wandilla', 7 December 1915.

Promoted Lance Corporal, 31st Bn, Duntroon Plateau, 27 March 1916.

Reverted to rank of Private, Ferry Post, 9 May 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 16 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 23 June 1916.

Reported missing, 21 July 1916.

On 15 February Mrs G. Willis wrote to Base Records with an enclosed letter from the Australian Red Cross. An extract of the letter stated: 'Private H.I. Rodgers, No.1560, 31st Battn. has stated that on July 19th 1916 at Fleurbaix, Willis was shot through the jaw. He was in the same Machine Gun Section as informant, but they were not together at the moment. He thinks Pte. Ellis (nicknamed Paddy) is likely to know particulars. Ellis' address is at present as under 8 Training Battn. A.I.F. Larkhill, Salisbury Plains. Private A.E. Hickson, No. 872, 31st Battn. states:- "I knew Willis. He was in the same tent as myself. He was a stout fair man about 21 years of age. He came from Yarran, Gippsland, Victoria. He was killed at Fleurbaix in "No man's land"[.] I saw his body 13 hours later lying dead. We had to retire and leave our dead there."'

'German list received by Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau, Australian Branch, British Red Cross Society', 4 November 1916, show that 'identification marks found on the Prisoner of War are inspected by the General War Bureau and shown in the lists as under:- DEAD'

'Identification disc received from Germany', 24 February 1917. 'No particulars afforded except that soldier is deceased. To be reported KILLED IN ACTION, 21/7/16' on the authority of Assistant Adjutant General, ANZAC Section, War Office.

Handwritten note on bottom of B.103 states, 'buried at Fleurbaix, Sh[eet] 36 NW'.

Note on Red Cross File No 2970601: 'The above name appeared on German death list dated 4-11-16.'

Statement, 1560 Pte H. ROGERS, 31st Bn (patient, 3rd Southern General Hospital, The Base, Oxford, England), 14 November [1916]: 'Informant states that on 19th July at Fleur Baix Willis was shot through the jaw. He was in same Machine Gun Section as Informant, but they were not together at the moment.'

Second statement, 872 Pte A.E. HICKSON, 31st Bn (patient, No 2 General Hospital), 6 December 1916: 'I knew Willis ... He was killed at Flore Bay (sic) in No Man's Land. I saw his body about 12 hours later lying dead. We had to retire and leave our dead there.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

Originally listed as 'No Known Grave' and commemorated on the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux; subsequently (2010) identified, and interred in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, France.
SourcesNAA: B2455, WILLIS Henry Victor
Red Cross file 2970601

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