The AIF Project

William Horne BARRETT

Regimental number802
Place of birthBallarat, Victoria
SchoolBallarat Agricultural High School; Ballarat Church of England Grammar School, Victoria
AddressBallarat, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation21
Height5' 5.25"
Weight132 lbs
Next of kinFather, Alfred Barrett, 1312 Mair Street, Ballarat, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the Senior Cadets.
Enlistment date4 February 1916
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll4 February 1916
Place of enlistmentWarrnambool, Victoria
Rank on enlistmentLance Corporal
Unit name39th Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/56/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A11 Ascanius on 27 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll39th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 4 October 1917
Place of death or woundingPasschendaele, Ypres, Belgium
Date of death4 October 1917
Age at death23
Age at death from cemetery records23
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 25), 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: Alfred and Mary Ann BARRETT, 'Waratah', 118 Kooyong Road, Caulfield, Victoria. Native of Ballarat
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Melbourne, 27 May 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 18 July 1916.

Promoted Lance Corporal, 19 August 1916.

Promoted Corporal, 6 October 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 23 November 1916; marched out to unit, in the field, 11 March 1917.

Promoted Temporary Sergeant, 13 June 1917.

Promoted Sergeant, 26 June 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 4 October 1917.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried'.

Note, Red Cross File No 02507041, 14 November 1917: 'Place of burial, 1 mile N. of Zonnebeke Village (Map reading S.16 central).'

Statement, 3098 Pte A.F. Miller, C Company, 39th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 28 January 1918: 'I saw him killed by a shell at Ypres, death being instantaneous. Casualty happened during an attack. I knew him very well[;] he was a Sgt. at time of casualty, and he came from Victoria, from the Town of Ballarat. He was buried at Passchendaele Ridge, near place of casualty. I saw the grave which was marked with a cross, bearing his number, name and unit.'

Second statement, 854 Corporal A.C. CROPLEY, C Company, 39th Bn (patient, 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, England), 1 February 1918: 'I did not see the actual casualty, but I saw him dead soon after. He was then lying dead, on the top of the trench. He was hit somewhere through the body with a bullet, and death was instantaneous. I knew him very well, he came from Ballarat Victoria, his father is a school teacher there. I did not see his grave and I cannot refer to anyone for details, but the ground was held, and I feel sure he would be buried somewhere near place of casualty.'

Third statement, 807 Sergeant W. GOTHARD, C Company, 39th Bn, 8 February 1918: 'Barrett was shot through the forehead on Oct. 4th in a line we had taken bewteen Zonnebeke and Abraham Heights, right in front of Passchendaele. He was buried where he fell.'

Fourth statement, 3151 Pte E.R. TOCKNELL, C Company, 39th Bn, 30 January 1918: 'Sergt Barrett was in charge of the Platoon in which I was. He came in the 2nd reinforcement, and was medium height, medium build, dark, and about 24. I knew him for 8 months. He was known as "Barney". On the 4th October we were at Polygon Wood, and were in action. The 40th Battn had advanced and taken the objective - the 1st German line - and we were in support and digging in. I saw Barnett hit by a sniper right in the forehead. Death was instantaneous. I was in the same bay with him. This occurred at 9 o'clock in the morning of the 4th. In the afternoon a burying party came up, and the body was taken for burial, but I did not see the grave.'

Fifth statement, Sergeant Donald McLEAN, 9 February 1918: 'On morning of 4th Oct. about 8 or 9 a.m. we were consolidating having reached our objective. while we were digging in, we were bothering with a sniper who was taking pot shots at us. We had a few slight casualties and then Sgt. Barrett got a bullet, which penetrated his head at the top of his forehead. He died almost instantly. After we had dug in by orders of Capt middleton, I buried Sgt. Barrett just behind our trench, and placed a rifle reversed with bayonet sticking in ground to mark the spot. It would have been fearful hard task to carry him back over the miles of mud and shell holes (at Broodseinde) to a soldiers' cemetery.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, BARRETT William Horne
Red Cross File No 02507041

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