The AIF Project


Regimental number991
Place of birthNew Delaval, Blyth, Northumberland, England
SchoolNew Delaval School, England
Age on arrival in Australia19
AddressThird Street, Weston, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 6"
Weight156 lbs
Next of kinR Aynsley, 10 Cofton Street, Blyth, Northumberland, England
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date19 October 1914
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit nameField Ambulance 4, Section A
AWM Embarkation Roll number26/47/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board Transport A35 Berrima on 22 December 1914
FateKilled in Action 6 May 1917
Place of death or woundingBullicourt, France
Age at death24
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
Other details

Statement, Red Cross File No 0170706L, 2023 Corporal F. RYAN MM, 4th Field Ambulance, 16 November 1917: 'I was with him and several others of this unit when a shell fell amongst us killing No. 991. Pte R. Ayns;ey, No. 1557 Smart, and No. 3073 Elliott. Aynsley had both legs broken[,] one in two places[,] an arm was also broken and there were two other deep wounds. I have heard that they were all buried together on the field near where they fell. That is near the Bullecourt Road about half a mile from the railway crossing. I have not seen the graves as we left that part before they were buried. The three are so I understand all buried together so there should be little difficulty in finding Aynsley's body.'

Second statement, 11858 Pte C.E.J. FLETCHER, 4th Field Ambulance, 29 October 1917: 'I did not see him killed but helped to bury him along side the trench between Noreuil and Bullecourt. Sgt. Williams erected a cross on his grave. It was not in a cemetery.'
SourcesNAA: B2455, AYNSLEY Richard
Red Cross File No 0170706L

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