Albert Wilkinson BATTYE MM


BATTYE, Albert Wilkinson

Service Number: 3020
Enlisted: 24 July 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 8th Infantry Battalion
Born: Encounter Bay, South Australia , 24 June 1889
Home Town: Victor Harbor, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
Schooling: Victor Harbor State School & St Peter's College
Occupation: Accountant
Died: Died of wounds, Belgium, 5 October 1917, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
XX H 19A, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Lijssenthoek, Flanders, Belgium
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Hindmarsh Valley School Roll of Honor, Victor Harbor Congregational Church Roll of Honor, Victor Harbor WW1 Roll of Honour, Victor Harbor War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

24 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3020, 24th Infantry Battalion, Melbourne, Victoria
26 Nov 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3020, 24th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
26 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3020, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Commonwealth, Melbourne
5 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 3020, 8th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge

T/SGT A.W. Battye 3020 M.M

T/SGT A.W. Battye 3020 M.M.

Died of wounds Belgium 5 October 1917 Aged 28 years
Albert Willkinson Battye was a bank accountant in Bairnsdale and enlisted on 24 July 1915. He was in Alexandria and Marseille before being wounded in May 1917 with gunshot to hands; in September with gunshot to head before fatal wounds in October when he died at the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. He had been awarded a Military Medal on 28 September for bravery in the field (non-commissioned officer) when during an attack in Polygon Wood he led his platoon to the successful capture of the enemy's strong point while under fire. He was in charge of an advanced bombing post and although heavily shelled, by his coolness and determination held his men together. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

From the East Gippsland Family History Group Inc 2015


RSL Victor Harbour Biography

3020 Sergeant Albert Wilkinson BATTYE MM – died of wounds on 5 October 1917
Albert Wilkinson Battye was born at Encounter Bay on 24 June 1889, the third of six children on Albert Battye (born 1852 in Yorkshire, England) and Ruth Battye (nee Battye, born 1858 at Waitpinga, South Australia). He was educated at the local public school and prior to his enlistment in the AIF on 24 July 1915, Bert, as he was known, was 26 years old and was working as a bank accountant in Victoria. His next of kin was shown as his sister, Miss Emily Turner Battye of Victor Harbor. Their mother had died in 1906 and their father in 1915. Bert’s brother Tom enlisted on 6 September and sailed with the 32nd Battalion on 11 November.

After his initial training, Bert, as he was known, was posted to the 7th Reinforcement Unit, 24th Battalion, Australian Infantry. This Victorian battalion had been hurriedly formed in early May 1915 and had left within a week of its formation and later went ashore at Gallipoli in early September 1915. Heavy casualties and evacuations saw a continual stream of reinforcements and Pte Battye and his fellow soldiers embarked from Melbourne aboard the HMAT A73 Commonwealth on 26 November 1915.

In February 1916, during the “doubling of the AIF divisions”, Pte Battye was transferred to the 8th Battalion; he and his fellow soldiers later sailed from Egypt aboard HMT Megantic from Alexandria on 27 March 1916; the convoy sailed along the North African coastline to avoid enemy submarines known to be operating in the Mediterreanan Sea. They disembarked in Marseilles on 31 March.

The train journey across France took 65 hours; the men were had no comfort at all as the carriages werein fact wagons designed to transport horses. They arrived at Godewarede and the men marched weight miles to billets located between Steenwerck and Bailleul; by 6 April 1916, training had commenced in earnest. On 30 April, the men moved into billets at Fleuraix only to be shelled by the enemy in their first introduction to life on the Western Front.

The Battalion’s first action was in the Battle of Pozière in early July 1916. This engagement proved disastrous for the Australians and heavy casualties were suffered. On 30 July 1916, Bert was promoted to Lance corporal, a position held by men who were 2IC of a platoon section. After Pozières, the Battalion travelled to Flanders and fought at Ypres, returning to the Somme for winter. In 1917, the Battalion participated in the operations that followed-up the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, and then returned to Belgium to join the great offensive launched to the east of Ypres. On the night of 6-7 May, the Battalion moved up to the front where it relieved the 2nd Battalion and a company of the 9th Battalion in the Hindenberg Line to the eats of Bullecourt. The relief was particularly slow, not being completed until 0100H, due to enemy shell-fire and one of the communications trenches leading up to the front line, became very congested. The tardy relief was reflected in the casualty figures – 15 men wounded. Bert was one of the wounded with a shrapnel wound to the left hand and was evacuated; he eventually rejoined his unit on 8 June after an absence of a month.

On 18 July 1917, Bert was promoted to corporal and following a stint of leave, he was rejoined the Battalion on 4 August. By this time the Battalion was in Belgium, near Steenvoorde.

During the attack on Polygon Wood on 20 September, Cpl Battye led his platoon against the enemy’s strong point in the face of heavy machine gun fire and captured the emplacement. He then consolidated their position and led an advanced bombing party and although heavily shelled by the enemy, managed to hold their position. For this action Cpl Battye was promoted to sergeant on 20 September and recommended for, and later awarded, the Military Medal. Two days later , Bert was wounded again, this time in the head. The wound did not prove too serious and after treatment at the 6th Field Ambulance, Bert rejoined his unit the next day.

Two weeks later, on 4 October 1917, the Battalion was again engaged in battle in the fight for Broodseinde. Shortly after midnight, the Battalion was deluged by an enemy artillery barrage, and a number of casualties were sustained, all of whom were evacuated before dawn to the 3rd Field Ambulance. Bert received serious stomach wounds and he was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. He died of those wounds the next day, 5 October 1917. Sgt Battye was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

The Routine Order No 84 that confirmed the award of the Military Medal to Sgt Battye was issued on 28 September, one week before Bert’s death. The Medal itself was not sent to his family until October 1918.

Bert had bequeathed his estate to be distributed to his sisters, Florence May Battye and Emily Turner Battye, along with his older brother, Harry Beaumont Battye. His estate was administered by William (Bill) Henderson, a solicitor and former soldier, of Victor Harbor who was father of Anthony (Tony) Alick HENDERSON. Tony was a World War Two veteran, who became a prisoner of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in February 1942.

Showing 2 of 2 stories

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

From the book Fallen Saints 

Albert Wilkinson Battye was born at Encounter Bay, South Australia in 1889 and later educated at Victor Harbor State School and the Collegiate School of St. Peter; prior to enlisting on 24 July 1915 he was an accountant with  the Union Bank, Bairnsdale Victoria.  

In November, while in transit at 1st Depot Battalion, Seymour, Victoria, Albert joined the 7th quota of reinforcements for the 24th Battalion and sailed from Melbourne aboard HMAT Commonwealth on 26 November. 

After reaching Egypt, Privates Battye, New Zealand born Thomas Cooke, (later VC) and other members of the 7th reinforcements for the 24th Battalion, were reposted to the 8th Battalion then at Serapeum.

The 8th Battalion sailed for France on 26 March 1916 and from April to July served in the relatively quiet sectors near Armentières.

When the 1st Division attacked Pozières on 24 July, the 8th Battalion, along with the remainder of the 2nd Brigade, was in reserve. After surviving intense enemy bombardment the battalion when called upon that night to reinforce the attack, advanced through and on to the north of Pozières. This, the battalion’s first major action in France cost the lives of 81 men, one of whom was Private Thomas Cooke who for his valour was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Appointed lance corporal on 30 July, Albert, with the surviving members of the battalion moved to the Ypres salient, Belgium where they manned the trenches before returning to the Somme for a thoroughly miserable winter.

When the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, the 8th Battalion took part in the follow-up operations and on 4 May 1917 Lance Corporal Battye suffered a gunshot wound to his left hand. He was admitted to 9th General Hospital, Rouen the following day and on 18 May was transferred to 11 Convalescent Depot, Buchy. He rejoined the battalion in the field on 8 June, was promoted to corporal on 18 July and three days later was granted leave.

On 20 September1917, Corporal Battye distinguished himself during the Battle of Menin Road. 

Recommendation: - During the attack on POLYGON WOOD east of YPRES on 20th September 1917 Cpl Battye led his platoon against the enemy’s strong point in the face of heavy machine gun fire and captured it, together with gun and crew. When the position had been consolidated he was in charge of an advanced bombing post and although heavily shelled, by his great coolness and determination he held his men together. – Passed - Division - 28/9/1917 [i]

Immediately after the attack on 20 September, he was promoted to temporary sergeant and two days later was admitted to 6th Australian Field Ambulance with a slight shrapnel wound to the head; he rejoined his unit the following day.

On 4 October during the Battle of Broodseinde, German shells began to fall among the Australian battalions emerging from Romulus and Remus Woods. The 3rd Division’s right flank who were then picking their way through the bog and stumps of Thames Wood, reported ‘whizz-bang’ shells were accurately following them.

‘By God, they’re sniping us,’ said one of the crowd. At the halt numerous casualties occurred in the 8th Battalion. [ii]

The German gunners were firing over open sights and the Australians, when they saw the flashes mistakenly believed they were observing their own shells bursting.  

After shrapnel penetrated his right foot and abdomen, twenty eight year old Sergeant Albert Battye MM was taken to 3rd Australian Field Ambulance for treatment, then transferred to 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station on 5 October; he died there that day.

[i] Australian War Memorial, Honours and Awards (Recommendations: First World War) – Battye, Albert Wilkinson / 1/32P2 - 1st Aust Division - 18/9/1917 to 23/9/1917-Citation: AWM 28 1/32P2, p. 16
[ii] Bean, C E W, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, Vol IV, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1933, p. 853