Alfred William FITCH

Regimental number2825
Place of birthDeniliquin, New South Wales
True NameANSELL, Alfred William
ReligionChurch of England
AddressSwan Hill, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation28
Height5' 7.5"
Weight147 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs E Ansell, Swan Hill, Victoria
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date2 July 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll1 July 1915
Place of enlistmentMelbourne, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name5th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/22/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A16 Star of Victoria on 10 September 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll5th Pioneer Battalion
FateKilled in Action 23 July 1916
Age at death30
Age at death from cemetery records29
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: Frank and Emily ANSELL, Swan Hill, Victoria
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 138 Corporal Charles Richard ANSELL, 24th Bn, returned to Australia, 14 December 1918; 10314 Gunner Frank ANSELL, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, killed in action, 8 August 1918.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Western Front

Taken on strength, 5th Bn, Tel Kebir, 7 January 1916.

Transferred to 57th Bn, 17 February 1916.

Allotted to and proceeded to join 5th Pioneer Bn, 21 March 1916.

Admitted to 8th Field Ambulance, Ferry Post, 5 April 1916; discharged to duty, and rejoined Bn, Ferry Post, 18 April 1916.

Embarked Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 19 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, France, 25 June 1916.

Reported missing, 23 July 1916.

Note on Form B103: 'Identity disc received from Germany - Now reported KILLED IN ACTION.'

Note on file: translation from final German death list: '"Killed in action 19th July 1916" Fitch. A.W. 2825 5. Pion. B. Fell 19.7.16 near Fromelles.'

Note on Red Cross File No 1060912: 'The above name appeared on German death list dated 4-11-16.'

Statement, 2720 Lance Sergeant J. LYNCH, 5th Pioneer Bn, 10 October 1917: 'I knew Casualty well. Called "Fitch". He was in my Company 11th Platoon C. Coy. On the 19th July, 1916 at Fleurbaix he went over the parapet with us in the 2nd wave alongside Pte Brodlin also 5th Pioneers ... Casualty has not been seen since. He should not have been marked killed on the list because we discussed him as late as last February with Lieut. Whitfield who is still with the unit in France.'

'Disc received from Germany and forwarded to next of kin 20.6.17.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Miscellaneous detailsSurname of mother incorrectly recorded on Embarkation Roll as TANSELL.
SourcesNAA: B2455, FITCH Alfred William
Red Cross File No 1060912