The AIF Project

Michael Joseph WHOLOHAN

Regimental number3731
Place of birthSydney, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
AddressUltimo, New South Wales
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation36
Height5' 6.5"
Weight146 lbs
Next of kinWife, Mrs Maude Elizabeth Wholohan, 133 Jones Street, Ultimo, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date23 July 1917
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll27 June 1917
Place of enlistmentRedfern, 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
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
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.

Found guilty, Codford, 1 March 1918, of being absent without leave from midnight, 26 February 1918, until 1230 hours, 27 February 1918: award, admonished.

Proceeded overseas to France, 1 April 1918; marched into No 1 Overflow Camp, Calais, 1 April 1918.

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

Killed in action, 4 July 1918.

Note on B.103: 'Buried beneath row of trees at cross roads 1/20,000.62D P.13 c.9.6 by Rev W.P. Hinsby att to 4th Aus Inf Bde.'

Statement, Red Cross File No 2940109P, 3669 Sergeant E.W. MERRETT, C company, 13th Bn, 28 September 1918: 'In the attack at Hamel on the 4th. July I saw Wholohan lying dead in the open; he was killed by a shell and died immediately. I think he was buried next [to] Lieut. Hall in front of Vaise [sic] Wood.'

Second statement, 3752 Pte A. PAGE, 13th Bn (patient, 5th Southern General Hospital, Oxford, England), 12 September 1918: 'I saw the wallet belonging to Pte Joe Wholohan (13, D?) after he had been killed on July 4th and during an attack in front of Corbie. All the lads knew about it. He had a presentiment that he would not come through the attack and put a message in his wallet. It was to be sent home to his people.'

Third statement, 3692 Pte R. RIDDELL, A Company, 13th Bn, 24 September 1918: 'I saw him killed by a shell during a Hop-over in Fair [sic] Wood at Corbie about 2 A.M. on the above date [4 July 1918]. He lived about one hour after being hit and was conscious almost to the end. He was constantly speaking of his wife and children ... A Cross was erected and the Padre of the Batt conducted the Service. I helped bury him near where he fell.'

Fourth statement, 3620 Pte G. CHAPMAN, 13th Bn (patient, 6th General Hospital, Rouen), 21 September 1918: 'We were making an attack from our line on the chalk pit at Vere [sic] Wood, near Villers Bretonneux. We took the wood and the chalk pit and mopped them up. He was wounded there but I did not see what hit him. I was told by the S/Bs that they buried him in the chalk pit.'

Fifth statement, 3646 Pte C.T. GRIFFIN, 13th Bn (patient, 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield, England), 17 October 1918: 'Villers Bretonneux in the Hamel stunt. Hit my machine [gun?] when in the open about 100 yards from our objective. I saw him hit and he was lying on the ground close to me. I heard the stretcher bearer say he was in a pretty bad way. I asked the Doctor when I got in to first Aid rest how he was, and he told me he was dead. I knew him well. Came from Australia together. That is why I asked.'

Sixth statement, 3597 Pte T. BROWN, D Company, 13th Bn (patient, George's Heights Military Hospital, Mosman, New South Wales), 21 January 1919: 'On the 4/7/18 the Battalion was in action at Hamel, they hopped over at 2 a.m. About 3.30 a.m. after the objective had been gained and they were digging in a shell burst near Wholohan and hit him badly in the leg. Informant was about 50 yards away and saw him shortly after he was hit. He was conscious and spoke to Informant and just about knew him. Informant lifted his head up and gave him a drink, he also asked how he felt, and Wholohan replied "I think I'm gone." Informant was told Wholohan was conscious till just before he reached the Casualty Clearing Station, which as far as Informant knew was the 47th. He was told by several members of the Battalion that Wholohan died at the Casualty Clearing Station.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, WHOLOHAN Michael Joseph
Red Cross File No 2940109P

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