The AIF Project

John Walter FRANCIS

Regimental number102
Place of birthCroxton West, Hamilton, Victoria
SchoolYulecart State School, Victoria
AddressHamilton, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation22
Height5' 6"
Weight147 lbs
Next of kinFather, W.H. Francis, Yulecart, Hamilton, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the 20th Light Horse, and in the 11th Australian Light Horse.
Enlistment date21 August 1914
Place of enlistmentBroadmeadows, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentCorporal
Unit name4th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron
AWM Embarkation Roll number10/9/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board Transport A18 Wiltshire on 19 October 1914
Regimental number from Nominal RollCommissioned
Rank from Nominal RollLieutenant
Unit from Nominal Roll59th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 26 September 1917
Place of death or woundingPolygon Wood, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death25
Age at death from cemetery records25
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 29), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: William Hanchet and Johanne Christiane FRANCIS, Yulecart, Victoria. Native of Croxton, West Hamilton, VIctoria
Family/military connectionsBrother: 6497 Pte William Edward FRANCIS, 7th Bn, returned to Australia, 14 January 1919.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 15 May 1915. Sick to hospital, Gaba Tepe, 10 July 1915; admitted to 3rd Light Horse Field Ambulance, Mudros, 11 July 1915 (ear trouble); transferred to Base, 26 July 1915; to St Andrew's Hospital, Malta, 29 July 1915; rejoined unit at Gallipoli, 24 August 1915. Promoted Sergeant, 7 December 1915. Disembarked Alexandria, 27 December 1915 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 10 June 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 17 June 1916. Transferred to 59th Bn, 2 September 1916.

Appointed 2nd Lt, 9 September 1916.

On command, Snipers' School of Instruction, Montede-Cato, 23 September 1916; rejoined Bn, 29 September 1916. Detached to 5th Division Gas School of Instruction, 10 October 1916; rejoined Bn, 12 October 1916. On command, 5th Division Infantry School, 17 November 1916; rejoined Bn, 24 December 1916.

On leave, 17 January 1917; rejoined Bn from leave, 4 February 1917.

Promoted Lt, 14 February 1917.

Wounded in action, 27 March 1917 (slight, resumed duty). On command, 5th Army Ifantry School, 30 March 1917; rejoined Bn, 6 May 1917. On furlough to Paris, 19 June 1917; rejoined Bn, 25 June 1917. On command, Snipers' School, 9 July 1917; rejoined Bn, 22 July 1917.

Died of wounds received in action, 26 September 1917. Statement by Temporary Commanding Officer, 59th Bn: 'Lieut. J.W. Francis was killed by a shell during the attack on 26.9.17. He was badly wounded all over the body, both legs being broken, and lived for a few minutes only, but he was not conscious. His body was carried to the rear but no definite information was ever received of his burial, though it was understood at the time that he was buried at BLACK WATCH CORNER [near Hazebrouck].'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, FRANCIS John Walter

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