The AIF Project

John SPENCER

Regimental number5457
Place of birthGrafton, Clarence River, New South Wales
SchoolBalmain Public School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
AddressAlga Wentworth Street, Tempe, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation36
Next of kinWife, Mrs A G Spencer, 17 Barker Street, Tempe, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date31 December 1915
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll7 January 1916
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name13th Battalion, 17th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/30/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A71 Nestor on 9 April 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll10th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 20 September 1917
Place of death or woundingPolygon Wood, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death37
Age at death from cemetery records37
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 17), 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
84
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Oliver and Jane SPENCER; husband of Amilda SPENCER, 833 King Street, Tempe, Sydney. Native of Clarence River, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrother: 4584 Pte Harold Victor SPENCER, 17th Bn, died of wounds, 30 December 1917.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

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