Ernest George WEETMAN

WEETMAN, Ernest George

Service Number: 2450
Enlisted: 13 March 1916, 2nd School Bn, 3 years
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: 43rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Beechworth, Victoria, October 1892
Home Town: Cannington, Canning, Western Australia
Schooling: Guildford Grammar School, Western Australia
Occupation: Bank Clerk
Died: Killed in Action, Villers-Bretonneux, France, 16 April 1918
Cemetery: Bonnay Communal Cemetery Extension
Row A, Grave 22
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Beechworth War Memorial, Canning Honor Roll, Cannington War Memorial, Guildford Grammar School War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

13 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 2450, 43rd Infantry Battalion, 2nd School Bn, 3 years
30 Oct 1916: Involvement Private, 2450, 43rd Infantry Battalion
30 Oct 1916: Embarked Private, 2450, 43rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Port Melbourne, Fremantle
24 Jun 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 43rd Infantry Battalion, Sgt temp 1/11/1917
16 Apr 1918: Involvement Sergeant, 2450, 43rd Infantry Battalion

Help us honour Ernest George Weetman's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of Alice Maud Weetman, of Nicholson Rd., Cannington, Western Australia, and the late George Renard Weetman. Native of Beechworth, Victoria, Australia

Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Sgt Ernest George WEETMAN 2450, 43rd Bn AIF
Today, under a shy spring sun, the light shines through the shadows of the clouds and illuminates the names of a whole generation of men who rest in peace under their peaceful graves in silent cemeteries and old battlefields on which grow millions of poppies which remind us, in their blood-red glow, of the Remembrance of the men who fought and fell here and which we always honor with the highest respect so that they are never forgotten.Gone but not and never forgotten, they always walk in silence and stand with pride on these soils of France on which, in the mud of the trenches and the blood of the battlefields, they gave their youth and their lives.We will protect and keep alive the history and memory of these young men who did and gave so much for us and whom we will always cherish in our hearts and in our thoughts where they will never cease to live and so that their names never cease to remind us of their courage, the courage of a whole generation which rests in peace in the fields of the Somme.

Today, it is with respect and gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme, I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Sergeant number 2450 Ernest George Weetman who fought in the 43rd Australian Infantry Battalion, B Company, 3rd Australian Division, and who was killed in action 103 years ago, on April 16, 1918 at the age of 22 on the Somme front.

Ernest George Weetman was born in 1896 in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia, and was the son of Alice Maud and George Renard Weetman, of Nicholson Road, Cannington, Perth, Western Australia.Ernest was educated at Guildford Grammar School, Western Australia and after graduation he worked as a bank clerk and served in the Citizen Forces in Perth.

Enlisted on February 18, 1916 in Perth, Western Australia, as a Private in the 43rd Australian Infantry Battalion, 4th reinforcement, he was, three months later, on May 3, 1916, sent to the NCO (Non Commissioned Officers) School until June 5, 1916 and was promoted to the rank of Corporal on June 6 then embarked with his unit from Fremantle, Western Australia, on board HMAT A16 Port Melbourne on October 30, 1916 and sailed for Devonport, England, where he was disembarked on December 28, 1916.
The next day, on December 29, 1916, he reverted to rank when he marched in to the 11th Training Battalion at Durrington, Wiltshire, and a month later, on January 24, 1917, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal then on February 2, 1917, he qualified at the Course of Instruction at the Australian Command Bombing School at Lyndhurst, hampshire, England, training which ended on March 10, 1917.Ernest was then sent to the Musketry School of Instruction at Tidworth, Wiltshire, England on March 28, 1917, and completed his training on April 24, 1917,qualified and passed as having fair knowledge of Lewis Gun.

Two months later, on June 29, 1917, Ernest was admitted to Fargo Military Hospital at Larkhill, Salisbury Plain, suffering from ingrown toenails and four months later, on October 2, 1917, he embarked with his unit from Folkestone, England and proceeded overseas to France. Two days later, on October 4, 1917, he was disembarked at Rouelles and on October 11, he was taken on strength with the 43rd Australian Infantry Battalion and fought with great courage during the Third Battle of Ypres. During this battle, he was, on November 1, 1917, promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant.

The Third Battle of Ypres opened on 31 July 1917, but bad weather in August partially flooded the battlefield and a further British attack on 16 August gained little ground. The next attack did not take place until the ground had dried out. A new strategy known as ‘step by step’ or ‘bite and hold’ was adopted, which called for an advance that would not extend beyond supporting artillery that could assist in defeating the expected enemy counterattacks. The Australians were brought into the battle as part of General Plumer’s 2nd Army, and were given the task, on 20 September, of advancing along the Menin Road towards Gheulevelt. With good planning and efficient artillery the Battle of the Menin Road was a great success. Further successful advances followed at the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September and at the Battle of Broodseinde, on 4 October although casualties were heavy.

The weather again broke and the constant rain turned the battlefield into a quagmire so that further attacks on 9 October at Poelcappelle and on 12 October at Passchendaele failed with heavy loss. The Canadian Corps was now given the task, and in five attacks between 26 October and 10 November, succeeded in capturing Passchendaele. Over 38,000 Australians were killed or wounded in the Ypres battles.

Four months later, on March 18, 1918, after Ypres, Ernest and the 43rd Australian Infantry Battalion were sent to the Somme, to Villers-Bretonneux to stop the German offensive of spring 1918.

On 21 March 1918, reinforced with divisions from the Eastern Front, the Germans launched a great offensive against the British forces which withdrew across the 1916 Somme battlefield towards the major city of Amiens. The Australian units were hurried south to help hold back the German advance north of the Somme at Dernancourt and Morlancourt. However German engineers had extended rail communications south of the Somme towards Villers-Bretonneux, close to the key city of Amiens. If the Germans could capture Villers-Bretonneux and reach the edge of a plateau, Amiens would be within range of their artillery.

On 4 April 1918, Australian units helped the British defend Villers-Bretonneux. The Germans attacked from the north east forcing the British out of the village of Le Hamel. An Australian battalion had to swing back to avoid being enveloped but the German advance was stopped by British cavalry working with Australian infantry. In the afternoon, the Australians withdrew to the outskirts of Villers-Bretonneux but at the crucial moment, the Australian 36th Battalion (New South Wales) dashed forward in a spectacular charge. Supported by other British and Australian infantry, and later by British cavalry, the 36th threw the Germans back to old trenches nearly two kilometres from the town, stabilising the line.

After 12 days of furious fighting for Villers-Bretonneux, it was in the Somme, near Amiens, on April 16, 1918 that Ernest met his fate and was killed in action, he was 22 years old.

Today, Sergeant Ernest George Weetman rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at the Bonnay Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "In loving memory of the dear son of Mr. and Mrs. Weetman, of Perth, WA ".

Ernest, you who rest today in peace under the shade of the poppies of the Somme and who, for Australia, for France, have served and fought with the most incredible bravery with the strength and energy of your youth which was lost in the blood and the mud of the trenches of Belgium and France in which you did your duty with in your heart, the love of your country and the convictions, the values ​​for which you gave your today for our tomorrow, on this peaceful day, I would like to write you a few words to say thank you and to express to you my gratitude, my admiration, the admiration and the love that I have in my heart for the men and women of your generation who fought day and night with incredible determination, in the trenches, in the air, on the seas and in the hospitals, in the field ambulances, they all did their duty with courage, together, it is together, in the fraternity, in mateship, in unity, it is t side by side that they all answered the call of duty and that they were disembarked in France for which, during four years, they did so much, they were of all the battles and these young men who left with innocence of youth discovered the horrors of the battlefield, they saw death up close, they were between 20 and 30 years old for the most part and became men who knew the price and the value of life through death which they faced through deluges of fire and rains of bullets.Under the sinister and mournful howls of the cannons which, shell after shell, tore the sky to fall on the bruised soils of France which were nothing more than ruins and shell holes, desolation and destruction of a world on the edge of annihilation, they held on, they found in themselves the strength to face this endless nightmare and overcome their fears,they found in each other the comfort, the determination, their courage and the strength to hold the line under this outburst of fury and the brutality of this war, they found the strength to hold their head high and to go over the top with courage under the murderous machine gun fire, the strength to go through these fields of death,these fields of barbed wire in which many fell.They fought for each other, they went into battle with courage, perseverance, gallantry and determination alongside their brothers in arms, alongside their French comrades, they shared, together, the sorrows and joys, united around the same causes, they gave their today for freedom, justice and peace, hand in hand under the same uniform to put an end to all wars, together they lived, they fought and they fell but not to die because today, more than ever and forever, they will never cease to live and have found in their eternal rest, the peace for which they gave their lives, their silence, in perfect peace, they still stand, smiling and proud to tell us "we who were young, remember us, remember who we were and what we did, never lose hope and protect the peace for which we have fallen ". For them, for each of them, I would always give my heart to make them come alive by sharing their stories, I would watch with care and love over their graves, I would take care of their memory, with the same devotion that they showed on the battlefields, I will always be present for them and for their families who will always have in my heart, the deepest and highest respect, I will always watch over the white and silent cities of your loved ones so that they are never forgotten and so that they can live forever, in the stone of their graves but also in the love of our hearts, united in the Remembrance around them. Thank you Ernest, for everything.France, the Somme will never forget and will be forever grateful.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.