Elwin Bruce OLIFENT

OLIFENT, Elwin Bruce

Service Number: 1550
Enlisted: 25 February 1915, Keswick, South Australia
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 18 April 1886
Home Town: Henley Beach , City of Charles Sturt / Henley and Grange, South Australia
Schooling: University of Adelaide (Diploma in Commerce)
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed In Action, Flers Nord-Pas-de-Calais France, 5 November 1916, aged 30 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Adelaide Scots Church WW1 Honour Board, Adelaide University of Adelaide WW1 Honour Roll, Henley Beach Council Fallen WW1 & WW2 Honour Board, Henley Beach Council WW1 Service Roll, Henley Beach Roll of Honor, Henley Fulham Uniting Church Supreme Sacrifice Roll WW1, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

25 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick, South Australia
31 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 1550, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1,

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Geelong embarkation_ship_number: A2 public_note: ''

31 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, 1550, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Geelong, Adelaide
12 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 1550, 27th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, 1550, 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
5 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17

Help us honour Elwin Bruce Olifent's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.


Born 18 Apr 1886 in Adelaide, South Australia
(SA Birth records 1842 - 1906 Book: 373 Page: 319 District: Ade.)

Father Willian Elwin Olifent and Mother Francis Ellen Olifent (nee Dawkins) - both deceased.

Brother       Gordon Leslie Olifent, Largs Bay
                  (b. 21/3/1889 Adelaide - d. ____)
                   SA Birth record - 1842 - 1906 Book: 434 Page: 95 District: Ade.)

Prior to enlisting Elwin lived c/o G S Wright, Esplanade, Henley Beach, South Australia.

Previous service:  74th Infantry

Described on enlisting as 28 years 10 months old; single; 5' 8" tall; 143 lbs; Protestant

25/2/1915    Enlisted at Keswick, South Australia
                    completed medical, fit for service

16/3/1915    Commanding Officer appoint Elwin to 'B' Company Base Infantry
                     to 1st reinforcement, 27th Battalion

16/4 - 31/5/1915   Corporal in 1st reinforcement, 27th Battalion

31/5/1915     Embarked from Outer Harbour, Port Adelaide, South Australia,
                    on board HMAT A2 Geelong as a Corporal

4/9/1915       Proceeded to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, GALLIPOLI
                    ex Alexandria, Egypt

30/9/1915     Promoted to Sergeant at GALLIPOLI 

17/11/1915    to field ambulance - tonsilitis, Gallipoli
20/11/1915    rejoned unit

10/1/1916      disembarked ex Mudros, Greece to Alexandria

15/3/1916      proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Forces
21/3/1916      disembarked into Marseilles, France

14/6/1916      proceeded to England - on leave
22/6/1916      rejoined battalion from leave in France

10/8/1916      involved in the Battle of Somme, France

16/8/1916      Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 

5/11/1916    Killed in action. near Montauban, France

His body was found after the German retirement in March 1917, and buried at Albert,
by Chaplain Hume Robertson.  His grave is situated close to the BIG CROSS erected by
the 27th Battalion July 1917.  Map reference 57c South-West-North 19c.

From Australian Red Cross Wounded & Missing Bureau Report:-
19/11/1917  Chaplain Hume Robertson stated:
                   "I had the graves marked, and as we push further on, the Graves Registration Unit
                     will, I trust, put a cross and mark the spot as I have requested them to do so.
                     Its position is to the South of the recently captured village of Ligny Thilloy,
                     which lies not far to the South-South West of Bapaume.       

2/10/1919     A notice to Brother:  "Regrettable unable to locate grave of 2nd Lieutenant Olifent".
                     "With further reference to the report of the regrettable loss of your brother,
                       the late 2nd Lieutenant E B Olifent, 27th Battaliion.  I am now in receipt
                       of advice from AIF HQ London, to the effet that he was reported buried
                       close to a big Cross erected by the 27th Battalion, at a site approximately
                       1 mile due North of Flers, 1 mile West-North-West of Gueudecourt, and 
                       8 miles North-East of Albert.
                       It is regretted that all endeavours to locate the grave have so far proved
                       An intensive search is being conducted throughout the various war areas
                       with a view to locating unregistered graves, and should success
                       subsequently attend these efforts in respect of the grave of Officer Olifent
                       you will be promptly notified.
                       It is laid down by the Imperial War Graves Commission that where the
                       graves of our fallen men remain undiscovered, a Memorial will be erected
                       to their memory.
                       Major - Officer I/C Base Records."

NO known grave.
Sadly many of the 27th Battalion men who were killed at Flers have 'No Known Grave' because either the grave they did have was obliterated by subsequent shelling or they weren't buried and their body was destroyed by this shelling, whilst it was left out in No Man's Land. 

Elwin's name is located at panel 111 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT.

His name is commemorated at the Australian Memorial, Villers-Brettoneux, France.

Second Lieutenant, A Company, 27th Battalion.

1914-15 Star (25194); British War medal (12963); Victory medal (12905)
Memorial Plaque and Memorial Scroll (356330).

Sourced and submitted by Julianne T Ryan.  14/2/2015.  Lest we forget.


Advice was received on November 19 that Second Lieutenant Elwin Bruce Olifent was killed in action on November 5. Lieutenant Olifent, who had resided almost from his infancy with Mr. G. S. Wright (Inspector-General of the State Bank), and was a nephew of Mrs. Wright, enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on March 15, 1915, was mentioned in dispatches, and for "great gallantry and devotion to duty" in action at Pozieres Ridge, and granted a commission on August 16 last. On one occasion Lieutenant Olifent was missing for some hours, and when he reappeared he was wearing a German uniform. Although this interesting fact was mentioned in letters from his comrades, Lieutenant Olifent, who was noted for his courage, never considered it worth his while to explain the mystery. The assumption is that he penetrated the German lines and escaped in the clothes of a dead soldier. Lieutenant Olifent was an officer of the State Bank for 14 years, and at the weekly meeting of the trustees on November 20 the following resolution was passed by the board:—

"The trustees of the State Bank, in tendering their sincere sympathy with Mr. and Mrs. G. S. Wright upon the death in action in France of Lieutenant E. B. Olifent, are assured that they have lost a very loving and much loved nephew, who for several years was highly esteemed for his splendid work as an officer on the staff of the State Bank. The high qualities he exhibited as such officer he exemplified with zeal and efficiency in the strenuous work on the battlefield. We mourn his loss, but recognise and commend the high example of a beautiful life now closed in his glorious sacrifice for King and country at duty's call, and resolve that this be entered as a minute in the proceedings of the board." - from the Adelaide Chronicle 25 Nov 1916 (nla.gov.au)