The AIF Project

Arthur Thomas FORD

Regimental number3638
Place of birthLondon, England
ReligionChurch of England
AddressDouble Bay, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation30
Height5' 7"
Weight121 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Jessie Ford, 41 Epping Road, Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceMilitia (England)
Enlistment date17 July 1917
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll26 June 1917
Place of enlistmentRoyal Naval House, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name56th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/73/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A14 Euripides on 31 October 1917
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll13th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 July 1918
Age at death from cemetery records32
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: George and Annie FORD; husband of Jessie FORD, 41 Epping Road, Double Bay, New South Wales
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 31 October 1917; disembarked Devonport, England, 26 December 1917; marched into 14th Training Bn, Hurdcott, 27 December 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 1 April 1918, and marched into No 1 Overflow Camp, Calais, the same day.

Proceeded to unit, 4 April 1918; taken on strength of 13th Bn, in the field, 17 April 1918.

Posted as missing in action, 4 July 1918.

Court of Enquiry, Florennes, 16 January 1919, pronounces fate as 'Killed in Action, 4 July 1918'.

Court of Enquiry Evidence given by 1805 Sgt J. PRESCOTT: 'I was Platoon Sergeant of No.9 Platoon on 4th July, 1918, to which Platoon Pte FORD belonged. The last time I saw Private Ford was at 4.30 a.m. on the 4 July, 1918 when he was digging in on the final objective after the Hamel - Vaire Wood "hop-over". At this time there was no hostile machine gun nor artillery fire. At this time I went on another job and on my return about forty minutes later I did not see Private Ford nor have I seen him since. A search was made but he could not be found'.

Court of Enquiry Evidence give by Cpl. A.V. THOMAS: 'I was in charge of a Lewis Gu[n] on 4th July 1918 and Pte FORD was one of my men. At about 4.30 a.m. on that day I saw Pte FORD on the final objective digging in. I was out in front with part the crew forming a covering party. When I came back to the trench about half an hour later I did not see Pte FORD. There was no hostile artillery nor machine gun fire at the time. There was occasional sniping. I made enquiries at the time but no one noticed him go away'.

Court of Enquiry Evidence given by 3700 Pte R. RYAN: 'I was in the same platoon as was Pte FORD on 4th July, 1918, and on that morning I went out with Pte FORD about 300 yards to inspect a German trench. After we had gone out about 200 yards Pte FORD remarked to me that "This is no good to me" and shelter in a shell hole. This was the last time I saw him and some hours after reaching the final objective. I am not sure of the time. At this time a German Machine Gun was firing at intervals'.

Court of Enquiry Evidence given by 3871 Sgt O'NEILL: 'I am Orderly Room Sgt of 13th Bn. and saw Pte FORD's paybook and pocket wallet amongst personal effects of other soldiers. These effects were sent to me from advanced Battalion Headquarters, but I don't know who handed them in and I have not been able to find out who collected his effects...'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Statement, Red Cross File No 1081003D, 3737 Pte A.S. CLEMENS, 4th Machine Gun Bn, 10 January 1919: 'The 4th Machine Gun Battn., was attached to the 13th Infantry Battalion. We were in front of Hamel and were digging in. Ford went out to collect souvenirs, when a shell came over and blew him to pieces. I was in Ford's trench at the time - the trench he left, I mean - and so did not see the actual occurrence, but my mate 3740 Pte Alec Fyffe (13th A.I.F. C Coy. I don't remember his platoon) saw it and he told me. I was not an eye-witness.'

Second statement, 3740 Pte A. FYFFE, 13th Bn, 10 February 1919: 'Pte. A.T. Ford was in the same platoon as myself on the morning of July 4th. He reached the final objective safely and commenced digging in with his section. After that he was not seen again and subsequent enquiries proved fruitless. At a Bttn enquiry held after comig out of the line he was posted Missing but the general opinion of the platoon was that he went forward for some unknown reason and was killed.'

Third statement, 3758 Pte R. HUMBERGE, 13th Bn (patient, 4th Australian General Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales), 28 February 1919: 'Informant states that on 4/7/18 the Battalion was in action at Corbie. They hopped over about ½ past 4 or 5 a.m. and 2 hours later had got through Vere [sic] Wood and dug in there. Ford seems to have disappeared during this time and was missed as soon as they had finished digging in. Inquiries were made for him, but without result. About 5 nights afterwards when they were coming back Informant saw a fresh grave about 2 kilometres from where Ford was last seen with a cross on it saying that it was the grave of an unknown Australian soldier. As Ford was the only man not accounted for, it is just possible that the grave in question was his.'

Third statement, 3425 Pte J. MURPHY, 13th Bn, 3 May 1919: 'Informant states that they both belonged to C. Company, and the same Platoon. On 4.7.18 the Battalion was in action in front of Hamel Wood, near Villers Bretonneux. They hopped over at 6 a.m. and about 2 hours later Ford and Informant were together in a trench. After a time Informant missed Ford from the trench, and never saw him again.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455,, FORD Arthur Thomas
Red Cross File No 1081003D

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