John William Frank IFOULD


IFOULD, John William Frank

Service Number: 1368
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Petersfield, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom, 21 November 1892
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Steep School-commenced on 21st February 1905.
Occupation: Garden work, Pantry Boy at Boarding School, and then a Merchant Seaman
Died: Killed In Action, Near Armentières, France, 24 June 1916, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier
Grave H. 37, Y Farm Military Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

11 Feb 1915: Involvement Private, SN 1368, 2nd Infantry Battalion
11 Feb 1915: Embarked Private, SN 1368, 2nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Seang Bee, Sydney
24 Jun 1916: Involvement Corporal, SN 1368, 2nd Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Geoffrey Gillon

Births Dec 1892   Ifould John William F Petersfield 2c 128

Twins, John and Ellen Ifould, were born in the Tanyard area of Steep on 21 November 1892 and baptised at All Saints’ on 29th January 1893. The Ifould family had lived in Steep for about 80 years.

In 1907, at the age of fourteen and a half, John left school “for Garden work”.   

It seems likely that John crossed the road from Rose Cottage to work for Mr. Nixon who managed the vegetable gardens and orchards at Bedales School from 1900 – 1914.

On census day 1911 he was “pantry boy”, resident in the main school building of Bedales School,  a co-educational, boarding and day independent school in the village of Steep, near the market town of Petersfield in Hampshire, England. It was founded in 1893 by John Haden Badley in reaction to the limitations of conventional Victorian schools. Bedales is one of the most expensive public schools in the UK.

By 1913 John had abandoned the tedious life of domestic work for the probably harder but potentially more exciting life of a merchant seaman. He is recorded arriving as an “unassisted immigrant”, a deckhand on S S Morea, at Sydney N.S.W. on 18th September 1913. His return passage goes unrecorded but he came back to Sydney on the same ship on 8th January 1914, described as “general servant”. On 26th October 1914 aged 21 years and 11 months, John (describing himself as “steward”) enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a Private, service number 1368, and was posted to the 2nd Reinforcements of the 2nd Battalion. After months of training, early in 1915, the battalion sailed for Egypt to guard the Suez Canal and then on 5th April 1915 John embarked to join the Expeditionary Force in the Gallipoli campaign. Within weeks he was in a Field Hospital with some kind of abscess and then transferred to the island of Lemnos suffering from quinsy, but by 10th June he was back on duty. Shortly afterwards he was ill again and this time sent back to No 2 General Hospital in Cairo where he remained until 9th September.  On September 19th he re-joined his unit in Gallipoli and seems to have remained there until he returned to Alexandria on 28th December.

At Tel-el Kebir on 19th February John Ifould was promoted to Corporal and a month later, on 22nd March, he “embarked for overseas” from Alexandria, arriving in Marseilles on the 28th.   

John was killed before the major A.I.F. commitment on the Somme early in July.  Notification of John’s death and two packages of his possessions were sent to his named next of kin (father) Mr Thomas F. Ifould at Mose (sic) Cottage, Steep, Nr Petersfield, Hants, England. The larger package contained “Testament (presumably The New Testament), Letters, photo, Note Book, Diary 2 Discs” (identity discs).  The smaller  held only “2 Brushes, Note Book”.  Bedales didn’t commemorate the war service and sacrifice of the domestic staff but he is now recognised and remembered there and in the Memorial Library Exhibition. Also remembered was another employee who John would surely have known as they were both employed by the School in 1911-he was Steward Benjamin Vidler, aged 24, who served in the Mercantile Marine Reserve on H.M.S. "Clan McNaughton."  which was lost on 3rd February 1915. He was the son of Thomas and Anne Vidler, of Steep, Petersfield.

John is remembered on the Steep War Memorial.

Sources: Steep Parish and School Records; census material;