The AIF Project

John Keith Frederick COMB

Regimental number5348
Place of birthSwan Hill, Victoria
True NameJohn Frederick Keith
SchoolBallarat Agricultural High School, Victoria
ReligionChurch of England
AddressTupra Station, Hay, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 8"
Weight140 lbs
Next of kinFather, F.E. Comb, Tupra Station, Hay, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 1 year in Senior Cadets, Ballarat, Victoria.
Enlistment date7 December 1915
Place of enlistmentGoulburn, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Battalion, 17th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/18/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A49 Ceramic on 14 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollLance Corporal
Unit from Nominal Roll53rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 1 March 1918
Place of death or woundingWytschaete, Belgium (Battle of Messines)
Age at death23
Age at death from cemetery records23
Place of burialSomer Farm Cemetery (Row A, Grave No. 12), Wytschaete, Belgium
Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Commemorated on Roll of Honour, Peacock Hall, Ballarat High School, Victoria. Parents: Frederick Edward and Louise COMB, Tupia Station, Hay, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsCousin: 2425 Pte Percy RICHARDS MM, 39th Bn, killed in action, 6 December 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 14 April 1916; disembarked Suez, 16 May 1916.

Reallotted to 14th Training Bn as Reinforcements to 53rd Bn, Tel el Kebir, 20 May 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 21 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 29 June 1916.

Taken on strength, 53rd Bn, in the field, 25 July 1916.

Detached to Lewis Gun School, 19 November 1916; rejoined Bn from detachment, 27 November 1916.

Admitted to 5th Australian Field Ambulance, 11 December 1916 (sore feet), and transferred to 36th Casualty Clearing Station, and then to Ambulance Train; admitted to 9th General Hospital, Rouen, 12 December 1916; transferred to England, 13 December 1916, and admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham, 14 December 1916 (sick: slight); discharged to No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs, 7 February 1917.

Transferred to 61st Bn, 23 March 1917.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 1 June 1917.

On Command, Lewis Gun School, Tidworth, 24 June 1917; marched in to 61st Bn from Lewis Gun School, 30 June 1917.

Admitted to 16th Field Ambulance, 3 July 1917; transferred to Fovant Military Hospital, 5 July 1917 (no details recorded).

Proceeded overseas to France, 12 September 1917; taken on strength, 53rd Bn, in the field, 2 October 1917.

On leave to Paris, 3 January 1918; rejoined Bn from leave, 9 January 1918.

Admitted to 14th Australian Field Ambulance, 20 January 1918 (influenza); transferred same day to 24th General Hospital, Etaples; to No 6 Convalescent Depot, 27 January 1918; to 20th General Hospital, Camiers, 6 February 1918 (scabies); discharged to Base Depot, Havre, 12 February 1918; rejoined Bn, in the field, 1 March 1918.

Killed in action, 1 March 1918.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Mother wrote to Base Records, 9 February 1922: 'What I want to know is could I have a small stone, shield shape or any neat design put on his grave instead of the one put by the war people. If so will you let me know & what would the cost be.' Base Records replied, 17 February 1922, 'The [Imperial War Graves] Commission feels that it would be inadvisable to leave the provision of memorials to private initiative. If memorials were allowed to be erected in the War Cemeteries according to the preference, taste, and means of relative[s] or friends, the result would be that costly monuments put up by the well-to-do over their dead would contrast unkindly with those humbler ones which would be all that poorer folk could afford.' Mother replied, 23 February 1922: 'I quite understand what you say & am quite willing to have my son's grave the same as his comrades.'
Miscellaneous detailsName entered incorrectly on Embarkation Roll as Keith Colin Frederick COMB..
SourcesNAA: B2455, COMB John Keith Frederick

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