Arthur George BATT

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BATT, Arthur George

Service Number: 352
Enlisted: 18 November 1915, Enlisted at Sea
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 32nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Hilton, City of West Torrens, South Australia
Schooling: Hindmarsh Public School, South Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Fromelles Nord-Pas-de-Calais France, 20 July 1916, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Recovered from an unmarked mass grave in 2009, with 250 of his mates. INSCRIPTION ALWAYS IN OUR MEMORY FOR THE SACRIFICE YOU HAVE MADE. Grave IV. D. 9
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial (South Australia), Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

18 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 352, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Stowed away enlisted at sea into A Company 32nd Battalion
18 Nov 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 352, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Enlisted at Sea
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 352, 32nd Infantry Battalion, Fromelles (Fleurbaix)

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Biography

Arthur Batt was not typical of Australian soldiers in WW1 for two significant reasons. 

The first is that his name does not appear on the Embarkation Roll. That appears to be because he stowed away and was subseuqently enlisted into the 32nd Battalion, 'At Sea' on board HMAT Geelong on the 18th November 1915,  (per service record) making his case one of the most unusual ancountered. 

The second is that he was a big man by contemproary standards of the time.  He stood 6'1" or over 180cm tall, so he was hardly inconspicuous!

He is one of many soldiers of the 8th Brigade (including the 32nd Battalion) killed in the futile attack at Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916, and who was for many years 'missing' although a German death certificate had been issued at the time.  The 32nd Battalion was on the far left of the attacking line and many men penetrated the German defences only to be stranded and then cut off and either killed or captured.   

Bodies need to be dealt with quickly on a battlefield or they rapidly become a source of infection disease and affect the morale of the survivors.  As it happens the bodies werre laid in a large common grave and covered with lime.

There were rumours of a large common grave but it took until 2008 and the dilignece of a a Melbourne-based school teache Lambros Eglesios, to locate it.  After Lambros convinced the authorities that the site was viable, it was excavated and the remains of over 250 Australian and British soldiers were unearthed.  Then the process of identifying the remains began using DNA analysis. 

Arthur Batt was one of those thus identifed and his remains now rest in the Pheasant Wood cemetery, co-located with those of many of his mates from the Battalion.  Adjacent to the cemetery is a museum, all located on the edge of the village of Fromelles which ws behind German lines at the timne of the attack in 1916. 

 

Compiled by Steve Larkins April 2019

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

He was 32 and the son of Charles and Elizabeth Batt, of Railway Terrace, Hilton, South Australia. 

A new headstone bearing his details will be dedicated to him at a ceremony on the 19th July 2019. This casualty was previously commemorated on the V.C. Corner Australian Memorial.