Alfred Charles FIGG

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FIGG, Alfred Charles

Service Number: 1920
Enlisted: 18 May 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Athelstone, South Australia, 26 May 1895
Home Town: Norwood, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in action, France, 4 August 1916, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Glandore State Wards & Orphans Honour Roll, Port Victoria War Memorial and Flagpole, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

18 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 1920, 27th Infantry Battalion
26 Aug 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1920, 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
26 Aug 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1920, 27th Infantry Battalion, RMS Morea, Adelaide
24 Nov 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 1920, 27th Infantry Battalion, Suffered from quinsy. Admitted to hospital at Heliopolis Palace Hotel.
10 Dec 1915: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 1920, 27th Infantry Battalion, Discharged from hospital to base Ghezireh, Cario.
29 Jan 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 27th Infantry Battalion, Transferred to Zeiutoun to rejoin unit.
28 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
4 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, 27th Infantry Battalion, Wonded in action, then later declared dead.

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Alfred Charles Figg was born in Norwood, South Australia in April 1893, to mother Annie Figg.  He had a younger sister, Mary May Figg who was also his next of kin. She married Charles Selby Edwards of Lipson Street Port Adelaide, and changed her maiden family name to Mary May Edwards. It has also been confirmed that he had another close relative, an aunt named Jane Figg. Before enlisting for the war, Figg was single, had no children, and his occupation was a labourer. Alfred enlisted on the 18th of May in 1915, at the age of 21 and 11 months. He was placed in the 27th Infantry Battalion as a 3rd Reinforcement with the service number of 1920, and remained private until his death on the 4th of August 1916. Figg was 5.82 feet tall, averagely built with a fair complexion, had blue eyes and light coloured brown hair, and was Methodist at the time.

The 27th Battalion was established in South Australia in March 1915, which mainly consisted of previous recruits who were formerly assigned to the 24th Battalion.  On the 16th of March 1915 Lieutenant Colonel Walter Dollman was appointed to command the 27th Battalion. The battalion was commonly referred to as the “Unley’s Own,” as the majority of the soldiers who enlisted in the battalion were from this district. The battalion left Australia in June and after two months spent training in Egypt, landed at Gallipoli on the 12th of September. However, Alfred having been part of the 3rd Reinforcements was not an initial member of the unit thus had a different embarkation date and training camp venue to the other soldiers in the battalion. He instead embarked on board the RMS Morea, from Adelaide, on the 26th of August in 1915, before arriving in Gallipoli a month later than the original battalion on the 12th of October 1915.

Alfred and his battalion had a relatively quiet time in Gallipoli with losing only little casualties. The battalion departed the peninsula in December and returned to Egypt. During this time Alfred was transferred and admitted to a hospital at Heliopolis Palace Hotel on the northeastern edge of Cairo in Egypt, as he suffered from quinsy. Quinsy was the inflammation of the throat and despite not being a very serious illness many people were affected with it. He was in hospital from the 24th of November in 1915 until he was discharged on the 10th of December in 1915 to base Ghezireh, Cairo. Alfred was then transferred to Zeiutoun, a famous district in Cairo to rejoin his unit on the 29th of January in 1916.

Alfred officially rejoined the battalion on the 20th of February in 1916, in Ismailia a city in northeastern Egypt and proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) on the 16th of April in 1916. The B.E.F was the British Army sent to the Western Front during the First World War. The 27th Battalion entered the front-line trenches for the first time and took part in its first major battle at Pozieres in France between the 28th of July and the 5th of August, which was during the Battle of the Somme. Whilst fighting on the Western Front during this time, Figg was reported missing in action but was later declared dead on the 4th of August 1916. An eyewitness report given by Herbert Yend, a soldier with the regimental number 2004, who fought alongside Alfred in the 27th Battalion, can confirm this. Herbert reported, “I knew Pte. Figg. I saw him in No Man’s Land wounded; it was at Pozieres, the place was heavily bombarded and no one could get out to him. No one, either English or German could have got to him. He was badly wounded and must have died there.” 

Alfred was acknowledged and awarded with three different medals for his contribution in World War One. These medals included the Victorian Star Medal, the British War Memorial Medal, and the Victory Medal, which was a medal, awarded to all soldiers who fought in World War One. His sister Mary May Figg who was also his next of kin was bestowed with the medals.

The Anzac spirit means to have and possess great courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship. These qualities were known and regarded as the Anzac spirit. Many people believed that the Anzac spirit meant one was born of equality and mutual support. It was an ideal that captured the idea of an Australian solider and helped create the nation’s identity. 

Alfred Charles Figg possessed and reflected the Anzac spirit throughout his time serving in the war. He showed outstanding bravery by joining the army at a young age despite knowing that he may never return home or would never return home as the same man. 

His body is buried at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, located in Somme, France. A memorial that the Australian National Memorial dedicated to commemorate and remember all Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in France and Belgium during the World War 1.

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