Service Numbers: 187, Officer
Enlisted: 26 January 1915, Keswick South Australia Australia
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hindmarsh, South Australia, 29 March 1890
Home Town: Croydon, South Australia
Schooling: Hindmarsh Public School
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Killed In Action, France, 5 November 1916, aged 26 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Burra District WW1 Honor Roll, Burra Fallen Soldiers Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

26 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Keswick South Australia Australia
31 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 187, 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, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 187, 27th Infantry Battalion
12 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 27th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
15 Oct 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion
15 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, Officer, 27th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
28 Jun 1916: Wounded
26 Jul 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion
4 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 27th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17, --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: 27 Battalion awm_rank: Lieutenant awm_died_date: 1916-11-05
Date unknown: Involvement 27th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

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Service Record: Sommerville, John Raymond; SERN: 187; POB: Hindmarsh SA; POE: Adelaide SA; NOK: S - Marjory (Marjorie) Charlotte Brash Sommerville (nee Mitchell)(mother), King Street, Croydon.

Born on the 29th of March 1890 to William and Majorie Sommerville at Hindmarsh, SA. 

Enlisting on the 26th of January, 1915 at Keswick, John Raymond Sommerville embarked at Outer Harbour on HMAT Geelong (A2) on the 31st of May, 1915 with the rank of Quarter Master Sergeant (Staff Sergeant). After a brief time of training in Egypt, the 27th Battalion was landed at Gallipoli from the 12th of September, 1915 onwards, over the next couple days. It was here, on the 15th of October 1915 that that Quarter Master Sergeant Sommerville was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. On the 5th of November, however, exactly one year before he was killed, 2nd Lt. Sommerville was admitted to the 7th Field Ambulance with enteric fever. He was withdrawn to Malta before finally been evacuated to Italy. He spent several months here and was only taken on strength by the 27th Battalion in Egypt on the 5th of March, 1916.

He was temporary attached to overseas base details and consequently he arrived at Base Depot at Etaples in Northern France on the 8th of June, 1916. He was transferred back to the 27th Battalion on the 17th of June and joined the Battalion again on the same day.   

Serving in Belgium eleven days later 2nd Lt Sommerville was wounded during a Trench Raid on the night of the 28/29 June 1916. The Battalion diary summaries the events that occurred that night: "During night our raiding party entered enemy trenches at Ontario Farm under Artillery Barrage and did some damage. Killing 17 enemy and taking 4 prisoners. retaliation by Bosche Artillery severe. Our casualties Wounded Lts Sommerville JR and Gooden SR. Other Ranks Killed 4, Wounded 26." Although it was only a relatively small trench raid carried out that night, the German's inflicted more damage on the raiders than the raiders did to the German's.

2nd Lt Sommerville's injuries occurred when he was hit with the blow of a shell exploding causing general shock and contusing his left testicle and leg. He was evacuated and admitted to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station where he was diagnosed with haematocele. He was evacuated further through the chain of evacuation and admitted to the 3rd General Hospital in London where he spent several months in hospital recovering. Consequently, 2nd Lt Sommerville missed out on the 27th Battalion's first major engagement at Pozieres. Within 5 weeks of fighting their the AIF had suffered 23,000 casualities. The 27th Battalion for its part lost also lost many men during the battle.

2nd Lt Sommerville was still recovering when he was quickly promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 26th of July, 1916. Finally, Lt. Sommerville had fully recovered by early September, 1916. He was sailed across the channel and re-joined the 27th Battalion on the 10th of September, 1916 in Belgium. The 27th Battalion had been posted here to recover from its loses sustained at Pozieres. However, in late October the 27th Battalion was again moved south back into the Somme.

They took over the front line trenches near Flers on the 4th of November, 1916. The next day the 27th Battalion was thrown into battle in the 1916 winter campaign. It was bitter battle and the 27th Battalion, although successful in penetrating the German line in several parts failed to fully capture and hold the German Line. As a result, when the battalion retired to it own lines it had to leave many wounded and killed soldiers in No Man's Land and the German trench system. Losses were unknown for some time, however, after roll call the true extent of the battle losses were made known. Lt Sommerville was one of those reported Killed in Action. He has no Red Cross File and as a result it is not known how he was killed. However, owing to his rank it is likely he was leading a platoon in the assault. His body was never recovery or buried and as a result is memorialised on the Australian National War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux like many other 27th Battalion men who were killed at Flers. He was 26 years old.            


1914/15 Star: 25378

British War Medal: 16334

Victory Medal: 16269

Memorial Plaque and Scroll: 356466

John Raymond Sommerville's brother, Alfred Cyril Sommerville (/explore/people/355088) served with 10th (SA) Battalion as a Lieutenant. He, enlisted early with the AIF and was with the 10th battalion when it landed at Gallipoli. On the first day of the landing, however, he sustained wounds to his hip and later had to be given a prosthesis and was forced to Return to Australia. He subsequently missed out on the rest of the war.

Nathan Rohrlach, 2014. 


News has been received from the military authorities that Lieut. John R. Sommerville, youngest son of Mrs. W. Sommerville, of Croydon, was killed in action in France on November 5. The deceased, who was 25 years of age, was educated at the Hindmarsh Public School, and, prior to enlisting, was employed as an accountant in the office of Messrs. Drew and Orewes, at Kooringa. He joined the forces as a private, and had gained the rank of quartermaster-sergeant at time of his embarkation in May, 1915. It was while serving at Gallipoli that he was granted his commission, Lieut. Sommerville was a genial and popular young officer, and his men spoke highly of his fine qualities. The deceased officer was a brother of Lieut. A. C. Sommerville, who was wounded in the initial landing at Gallipoli. He was officer of the 10th Battalion and is at present engaged in duties at headquarters, Keswick." - from the Adelaide Observer 25 Nov 1916 (