Francis Alban VARCOE

Poppy

VARCOE, Francis Alban

Service Number: 6170
Enlisted: 23 August 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Point Mcleay, South Australia, 16 October 1895
Home Town: Point McLeay, The Coorong, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 5 May 1917, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Villers Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Raukkan Aboriginal Community War Memorial, Raukkan Mission Ngarrindjeri Anzacs Memorial, Raukkan Point McLeay Mission Church War Memorial Window, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

23 Aug 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6170, Adelaide, South Australia
6 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6170, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
6 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6170, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Adelaide
3 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6170, 27th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)

Help us honour Francis Alban Varcoe's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Fran├žois Berthout

Private 6170 Francis Alban Varcoe
27th Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division

In the fields of northern France, walk in the fields of poppies, young men who stand silently and proudly, a whole generation of men who here, for Australia and for France, fought with the greatest bravery, men who, in the trenches and the battlefields, lived and fell together and who, for many, have no known graves but are not and will never be forgotten because behind their names inscribed on the walls of the Australian National Memorial of Villers-Bretonneux, we can see their stories, the story of men who did so much for our country and towards whom we will always keep their memories, their stories alive, they are not unknown to us because they are, each one of them, our sons and we will honor their memory with the greatest care, hoping that one day, they who are waiting to be found, will all be found so that we can offer them a grave worthy of their sacrifices.None of them will ever be forgotten, they who sleep peacefully side by side under the red fields of poppies have found the silence and the peace for which they fought and fell and watch over our lands of France for which they gave their courage, their lives, their everything, we'll never forget them.

Today, it is with deep gratitude in my heart that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men who courageously served and fought for Australia on the soils of France. I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 6170 Francis Alban Varcoe who fought in the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who was killed in action 104 years ago, on May 5, 1917 at the age of 21.

Francis Alban Varcoe was born on October 16, 1895 in Raukkan, previously also known as Point McLeay, an Australian Aboriginal community situated on the south-eastern shore of Lake Alexandrina in the locality of Narrung, 80 kilometers southeast of the center of South Australia's capital, Adelaide.Francis was the son of Ebenezer Jackson Varcoe and Sarah Kartinyeri and was part of the Ngarrindjeri community. The Ngarrindjeri people are the traditional Aboriginal Australian people of the lower Murray River, western Fleurieu Peninsula, and the Coorong of the southern-central area of the state of South Australia.The term Ngarrindjeri means "belonging to men". Before the outbreak of the war, Francis worked as a labourer.
Francis enlisted on August 23, 1916 in Adelaide, South Australia, in the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion, 17th Reinforcement.The 27th Battalion was the second of the predominantly South Australian Battalions to be raised in the first world war. It was allocated to the 7th Brigade in the Second Division. On November 7, 1916, Francis embarked with his unit from Adelaide, on board HMAT A19 Afric and sailed for Plymouth, England, where he was disembarked on January 9, 1917 and sent the same day to Rollestone to receive his training in the 7th Training Battalion on Salisbury Plain.

Four months later, on April 5, 1917, Francis embarked with the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion from Folkestone and proceeded overseas for France where he was disembarked the next day,on April 6 at Etaples and sent to the 2nd Divisional Base Depot.

Two days later, on April 8, he proceeded to join his unit and was taken on strength the next day in the 27th Battalion at Bullecourt.

Unfortunately, Francis' war was short and a month later, on May 5, 1917, he was killed in action during the second battle of Bullecourt, he was 21 years old.
Sadly, the body of Francis Alban Varcoe was never found and today his name is inscribed and remembered with respect on the walls of the Australian memorial in Villers-Bretonneux,Somme, alongside the names of 11,000 Australian soldiers who fought and fell in France and in the Somme and which have no known graves.

After his death, some messages to honor the memory of Francis Alban Varcoe were published in "The Advertiser"

In memory of Private Francis Alban Varcoe, killed in action in France, 5th May,1917. On Point McLeays's Roll Of Honour you will find dear old Alban's name-Inserted by his friend, Gladys Blackmore.
"He wore his colors,chocolate and blue.
Though dath divides fond memory clings.
Greater love hath no man this that he lay down his life for his friends.

Not now but in the coming years.
It may be in the better land.
We'll read the meaning of our tears.
And there,Sometime,we'll understand."
(Inserted by his loving aunt,Martha Barrett, Point McLeay).

"If thou should'st call me to resign
What most I prize,it ne'er was mine,
I only yield thee what is thine.
Thy will be done.
A higher service now to him is given,
A crown upon his brow,a home in heaven.
God gave and took away our dear loved one.
God help us all to say,thy will be done."
(Inserted by his loving mother,Sarah Kartinyeri).

Francis, you who were so young, in the prime of your life, it is with conviction and courage that you answered the call of duty and that you joined your comrades, the ranks of your friends, your brothers in arms to proudly wear your colors in the name of freedom and justice. Brave and determined to do your duty and fight for the love of your country and for your loved ones, you have sailed through the oceans and walked with conviction and determination on the soils of northern France, in the trenches, in the mud and blood, under hail of bullets and rain of shells that thousands of cannons poured day and night at an endless rate which pulverized everything in flames and leaving only shell holes in bruised soil already scarified by kilometers of barbed wire on which flowed the blood of a whole country and millions of men who fought in landscapes of apocalypses. In the noise and the fury of a world at war, they stood with the most great courage and together faced the horrors of war.They found in each other the courage to overcome their fears and the strength to move forward in the finest spirit of mateship, together they found the courage to hold the line, to hold their position under artillery fire.Under poison gas, under firestorms and howling metal, they showed the courage of a whole nation that showed itself strong and determined and lost so many of its sons but these young men, despite the heavy losses, never backed down, none of them took a step back and it was in unity, fraternity, in solidarity that they went over the top, side by side, running through no man's land under gunfire , with conviction and confidence they followed their friends, their brothers into the heart of the battle, through the explosions, through the shrapnel, they stood proudly through every step forward and through their acts of courage, their bravery, their gallantry, they made proud their country, their community, they were deeply admired by their brothers in arms and deeply respected by their enemies on the battlefield who said of them "that they fought like lions that nothing could frighten ".Nothing stopped them, neither the fire of the machine guns or the barbed wire, they always went further and fought all with exceptional courage through heroic charges, bayonets forward, paying each meter in blood and pain,their courage, however, was never broken, their convictions were never shaken by the hell on earth which they crossed and in which they gave their youth and in which they lost their innocence in the face of the omnipresent death which surrounded them, they saw their friends, their comrades who fell under machine gun fire, they saw the wounded for whom they could do nothing and continued to move forward, with tears in their eyes and bravery in their hearts, they remained strong and united.They were young and proud and together they lived four years of a war that mowed down millions of men, a whole generation, they shared every moment together, the sorrows and the joys, the tears and the laughter, they shared life and the death of their friends, they were all heroes, not all received medals but all did their duty with bravery and honor and many of them did not have the chance to return home and today rest in peace , on peaceful and silent soils, under the serene calm which covers the old battlefields, they rest in peace under the poppies which remind us of what so many men did for us and over which I would always watch with the highest respect to keep their memory and their history alive so that each of them, now and forever , in our hearts, may they live forever. Thank you Francis,for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them. 

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Son of Sarah Kartinyeri, Point McLeay, South Australia