The AIF Project

James Thomas RICHARDS

Regimental number572
Place of birthDunnstown, Victoria
SchoolBallarat Agricultural High School, Victoria
ReligionMethodist
OccupationSchool teacher
AddressWarrenheip, Victoria
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Next of kinFather, James Richards,Warrenheip, Victoria
Previous military serviceServed in the Cadets for 4 years; as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Citizen Military Force; as Lieutenant and Adjutant, Training Camp, Warrnambool, Victoria.
Enlistment date23 February 1916
Rank on enlistmentSergeant
Unit name39th Battalion, B 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 RollRSM
Unit from Nominal Roll39th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 8 June 1917
Place of death or woundingMessines, Belgium
Age at death20
Age at death from cemetery records20
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
131
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Commemorated on Roll of Honour, Peacock Hall, Ballarat High School, Victoria. Parents: James and Margaret Elizabeth Jane RICHARDS, Warrenheip, Victoria. Native of Ballarat, Victoria
Family/military connectionsCousins (2nd): 497 Corporal Albert Ernest Victor THOMAS, 4th Light Horse, died of disease, 21 October 1918; 44778 Pte Arthur PRIOR, 1st ASB, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, killed in action, 31 August 1918.
Other details

War service: Western Front

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

Promoted Regimental Sergeant Major, 14 October 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 23 November 1916.

Killed in action, 8 June 1917.

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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