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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Cpl 1220 Fred Townsend AIF

Peter Bennett

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This might be one for Terry Denham. The Australian War Memorial states he is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, but the CWGC list him as buried in London Cemetery & Extension, Longueval.

I wonder if his remains were not found until after the Memorial was unveiled ?

Fred Townsend

Rank Corporal [Cpl]

Service Number 1220

Unit 16th Bn

Service Army

Conflict 1914-1918

Date of Death 30 August 1916

Cemetery or Memorial Details 26 Villers Bretonneux-France

Place Of Enlistment Adelaide, SA

War Grave Register Notes TOWNSEND, Cpl. Fred, 1220. 16th Bn. 30th Aug., 1916. Son of John and Mary Townsend, of Ardrossan, South Australia.



Initials: F

Nationality: Australian

Rank: Corporal

Regiment/Service: Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

Unit Text: 16th Bn.

Date of Death: 30/08/1916

Service No: 1220

Additional information: Son of John and Mary Townsend of Ardrossan. South Australia.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: 3.H.19.


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An interesting case. Pte Fred Townsend had seen service on Gallipoli and was mentioned in despatches for "Leadership and conduct of patrol work by day and night in front of the line Cheshire Ridge-Warwick Castle" over the period September to December 1915.

A Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing File contains letters for 1683 Private Fred James Townsend, who also served on Gallipoli in the 16th Battalion. The letters show that there was confusion in indentifying the whereabouts of the two Townsends. However, one account dated 3 September 1916 from another 16th Battalion member refers to 1220 Townsend being killed by a shell at Pozieres "quite recently about 30 August."

The following letter from the service record of 1220 Townsend indicates that his remains were found north west of Pozieres in or before July 1937, almost 21 years after his death. Fortunately, his identify disc was found with the remains and was eventually returned to his mother (see letter in next post).

The Villers Bretonneux memorial was dedicated by King George VI on 22 July 1938, one year after Pte Townsend's remains were found. I'm not sure when the name panels were finalised and installed or whether Pte Townsend's name is included. There is no reference to him in the CWGC's online register for the Villers Bretonneux Memorial. Perhaps another forum member will be able to confirm this.



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I've just been looking in Volume 22 (Index 26) of the Memorial Register which was published in 1931 by IWGC. This volume addresses the V-B memorial and Section 6, which was compiled in 1929 contains the exact details under the heading "War Graves Register Notes" in Peter's original post.

So it looks like the Australian War Memorial details are extracted from the original registers and have simply not been updated.

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Thanks for looking up the register. I can understand a reference to Townsend in the 1929 version and hence the 1931 version since his remains were not discovered until 1937. I wonder whether the post 1938 registers mention him and whether his name is actually included on a panel. He would not be the first to have a grave and a commemoration on a memorial.

I'll make enquiries with the AWM to have their data updated. In the meantime, here is the second letter I mentioned in my original post. It seems that after some 20 years, Pte Townsend's identity disc was understandably not in the best condition but fortunately still legible.



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I have already e-mailed Canberra, but anyone with a better idea of contacts is welcome.

Better twice than not at all.

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Do not get hung up on anyone having a name on a memorial and a grave. I happened all the time (and still does) .

If a man was missing, his name went on a memorial. If he was subsequently found and buried or his grave discovered, his commemoration was/is transferred to the grave site. Any register or computer print-out produced after the commemoration transfer will only refer to the burial site and the previous memorial name will no longer appear.

The official position is that the name on the memorial 'ceases to exist' and his only commemoration is at the grave site. The name on the memorial will be removed when that particular name panel is replaced. This could take many years or even decades.

However, officially, the man still only has one commemoration - that shown in CWGC's Debt of Honour listing. The casualty does not have two commemorations - officially that is!

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Terry, no "Hang-Up" on my part and it certainly does not bother me that his name might be on a memorial in addition to having a grave. (Isn't Cpt Arthur Kilby VC still on the Loos Memorial ?)

This issue only came to light when his medals first went on sale (50 minutes to go as I write)


The dealer being situated in Australia initially took the detail from the AWM records. You made the point correctly that it is the accuracy of the record that matters.

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Thanks for your followup points setting out the official position.

Peter, I was unaware of the eBay sale. I am astounded by the final sale price of AU $2,325, particularly as the set lacks the Victory Medal, with oak leaf, and the 1914-15 Star and BWM appear in poor condition with new ribbons. No doubt some value can be attributed to the death plaque, the silk “death ribbon” and the medal box. However, there is no evidence from the information provided about the provenance of the death ribbon. Also, the medal box appears to have a postal address which does not match that of Townsend’s next of kin. I am assuming additional value arises from the MID and link with Gallipoli.

The service record does not confirm Townsend’s presence on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, although it does say he was wounded on 29 April. He was absent for Gallipoli from 2 May to 4 June, due to wounds, and from 28 August to 23 September, due to illness.

As an observation, the level of information provided by the seller is very general and not necessarily linked to Townsend’s movements. There are also minor inaccuracies in places. For instance, the mention in despatches, which can be seen on the AWM’s website, was clearly signed by "Brigadier General Monash" not Colonel Monash and the citation for the MID is not fully stated. The burial details were corrected courtesy of information sent to the seller. Minor as these details are, they could have been easily researched. Presumably the bidders had done their homework.

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