The AIF Project


Regimental number6741
Place of birthAberdeen, Scotland
SchoolBoulder Central School, Western Australia
Age on arrival in Australia6
AddressBoulder City, Western Australia
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18
Height5' 2.5"
Next of kinMother, Mrs H Donaldson, Boulder City Hotel, Boulder City, Western Australia
Previous military serviceServed for 4 years in the Cadets.
Enlistment date11 July 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll5 July 1916
Place of enlistmentKalgoorlie, Western Australia
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name11th Battalion, 22nd Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/28/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A8 Argyllshire on 9 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll11th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 9 May 1918
Age at death18.5
Age at death from cemetery records18
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
His father donated the Boulder City War Memorial, which stands opposite his hotel. The memorial takes the form of a bareheaded soldier with an open neck shirt, and is modelled on his son, who was found without his helmet. The sculptor was Pietro Porcelli. Parents: David Coutts and Helen DONALDSON, Boulder City Hotel, 1 Piesse Street, Boulder, Western Australia
Family/military connectionsUncle: 1931 Lance Corporal Johnson Jack DUNCAN, 11th Bn, killed in action, 16 April 1917.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Fremantle, 9 November 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 10 January 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 3 May 1917; joined 11th Bn, in the field, 10 May 1917.

On leave to United Kingdom, 28 February 1918; rejoined Bn from leave, 16 March 1918.

Killed in action, 9 May 1918.

Undated note on file, Assistant Adjutant, 11th Bn: 'The above named soldier was killed instantaneously by a bullet through the heart during a night operation in the vicinity of Moolenacker on 9.5.18. He was buried near "C" Coy's Headquarters, but as no Map of that sector is available at present the map location of his grave cannot be given.'

Grave subsequently lost.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, DONALDSON David

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