Alfred Henry ROUTLEY

ROUTLEY, Alfred Henry

Service Number: 2421
Enlisted: 23 June 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Port Broughton, South Australia, 22 September 1896
Home Town: Port Broughton, Barunga West, South Australia
Schooling: Port Broughton Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Farm labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 3 March 1917, aged 20 years
Cemetery: Warlencourt British Cemetery
Plot IV, Row K, Grave No. 32
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Port Broughton War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

23 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick, South Australia
13 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 2421, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
13 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 2421, 27th Infantry Battalion
27 Feb 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 2421, 27th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Born  22 September 1896 in Wokurna, South Australia
(SA Birth Record 1842 - 1906 Book: 593 Page: 42 District: Dal.)

Father Charles George ROUTLEY and Mother Mary Anne (nee MYERS).

Next of kin in service:
183     Charles Wilfred Routley
           born 18/2/1892
           12/9/1914  enlisted in Morphettville, SA
           12/2/1915  embarked from Port Melbourne VIC, on board HMAT Armadale A26
                            as a Private in 3rd Light Horse Brigade, 9th Light Horse Regiment, A Squadron
           21/11/1916  returned to Australia

11105  George Horace ROUTLEY
            born 11/9/1890  
            7/3/1916     enlisted in Adelaide, SA
            9/6/1916     embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide, on board HMAT Afric A19
                              as a Driver with Australian Army Service Corps
            7/7/1919     returned to Australia

Described on enlisting as 18 years 9 months old; single;

23/6/1915      Enlisted in Keswick, South Australia

13/10/1915    Embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide on board HMAT A32 Thermistocles
                    as a Private in the 7th Infantry Brigade, 27th Infantry Battalion, 5th reinforcements


In February 1917 the Germans took the Allies by surprise by withdrawing from their front line to consolidate along the  much stronger and straighter / shorter front along the Hindenberg Line. The 27th Battalion for its part, followed the retreating Germans as they went.

As part of their retreat German forces had left behind fortified towns and isolated fortified positions to slow down the Allied advance. The 27th Battalion was responsible for attacking one of these isolated fortified positions near Warlencourt. As a result on the night 2/3 March 1917 the 27th Battalion attacked the German Malt Trench near the Butte du Warlencourt, a terrain feature that gave significant advantage in terms of observation.

AWM - 27th battalion war diary out lines the course of events leading up to a major attack on 2 March.  It is paraphrased here:

The 27th Battalion went into the line near Warlencourt on 27 February 1917, relieving the 24th Battalion (Victoria) as part of the follow up of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line.

Its major operation there took place on 2 March which consisted of an attack towards a German defensive position (Malt Trench) and an attempt to link up with the 17th Battalion of the 5th Brigade on their right flankThe assault was flanked and 'turned' by the Germans but a 27th Bn counterattack was organised and executed successfully by Captain Devonshire and led by Lieutenant Davies securing the Grevilliers line of some 500m of trench.  The sum total of casualties was significant:

3 officers, Lieutenants Botten, Lewis and Caldwell were KIA and Captain Joyce MC severely wounded.  22 OR were killed and 95 wounded.  

The Battalion war diary reports 60 enemy killed and 29 PoW taken.

Alfred Routley was among those killed in this action

Alfred Routley is one of some 55 soldiers whose remains are believed to be interred in the cemetery but not explicitly identified.  There are other 27th Battalion personnel killed on or about the same day  / time who are similarly recognised on Special Memorials.  A number are listed below:

6243 Duckmanton, N.A. PTE
4139 Hardy W.H.
2421 Routley A.H. Corporal
4221 Tasker T.A.C. PTE
5611 Lyons  P.  PTE