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55th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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55th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

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Those known to have served with

55th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Briggs Henry Francis. 2nd Lt. (d.14th Sep 1917)
  • Gardiner Reginald Scott. Lt.
  • Ryan VC. Edward John Francis. Pte.
  • Willis Ubert Victor. Pte (d.20th July 1918)
  • Woods MC.. Percy William. Lt.Col.

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Feb 2018

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Pte Ubert Victor Willis 55th Btn. (d.20th July 1918)

Ubert Victor Willis (on left) with friend

Ubert Willis died 20th July 1918, aged 32 and is buried in the Querrieu British Cemetery in France. He was the son of Jonathan and Emily Willis, of Kangaloon Rd., Bowral, New South Wales.

s flynn


Lt.Col. Percy William Woods MC. 3rd Infantry Btn.

Percy William Woods was born in Sydney on 8th November 1885. After leaving school he worked as a decorator and was also commissioned as a lieutenant in the senior cadets of the Citizens' Forces. The 28-year-old enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force on 27th August 1914 and, having been allotted to the 3rd Infantry Battalion, departed Sydney on HMAT Euripides on 20th October 1914,

Woods took part in the Gallipoli landing on 25th April 1915. In a letter to a friend he wrote of the battle of Lone Pine, in which he had participated, and recalled the details of the attack. He was Mentioned in Despatches for his actions at Lone Pine and for his bravery and devotion to duty throughout the entire Gallipoli campaign. After the evacuation in December Woods was transferred to the newly formed 55th Infantry Battalion, with which he would serve for the remainder of the war and would temporarily command.

Woods continued to distinguish himself on the Western Front. By June 1917, the man who had left Australia with the rank of sergeant was a lieutenant colonel. By the end of the war, Woods had been Mentioned in Despatches four times, had been awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Fromelles in 1916, and had received the Distinguished Service Order with Bar for his actions at Doignies in 1917 and Peronne in 1918 respectively.

In October 1918, Woods returned for Australia and in February the following year was discharged from the AIF. He died of cerebrovascular disease in Sydney on 5th January 1937, survived by his wife, Annie.

s flynn


Lt. Reginald Scott Gardiner 1st Australian Division

Reginald Scott Gardiner was born at Casterton, Victoria in 1893. A school teacher before enlisting as a private on 25th August 1914. Gardiner was made a clerk in the Divisional Headquarters, 1st Australian Division, and departed Melbourne on HMAT Orvieto on 22nd October 1914.

Gardiner went initially to Egypt, where he was promoted to corporal on 1st March 1915, and then to Gallipoli via Lemnos. He witnessed the landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 from aboard one of the transport ships. Gardiner was promoted to sergeant on 24th July 1915 while serving at Gallipoli. He was transferred to Egypt on 2nd October 1915 re-joining his unit at Gallipoli on 18th October 1915. Gardiner departed Gallipoli as part of the evacuation and, on return to Egypt, was transferred to 4 Section Medical, AIF Headquarters on 22nd December 1915.

In June 1915 Gardiner was sent to England for officer training which resulted in his commission as a second lieutenant on 18th December 1916. He left for France on 16th January 1917 where he joined the 55th Infantry Battalion. According to his service record, Gardiner was "brought to notice of Secretary of State of War for valuable service rendered in connection with the war" on 24th February 1917. He was promoted to lieutenant on 22nd May 1917. While in the 55th Battalion, Gardiner served both as a signalling officer and an intelligence officer. He also spent time between 25th April and 2nd August 1918 attached to Headquarters, 14th Australian Infantry Brigade.

Gardiner left England to return to Australia on 25th February 1919. The medical history he provided on arrival in Australia indicated he was feeling fit despite the long war years during which he had suffered from influenza at Gallipoli in 1915 and was gassed in November 1917. He had not been hospitalised on either occasion. He left the Australian Imperial Force on 16th June 1919. Reginald Gardiner died on 14th November 1922.

s flynn


2nd Lt. Henry Francis Briggs 3rd Battalion (d.14th Sep 1917)

Henry Francis Briggs was born at Brighton, England in 1891 and worked as a salesman before the outbreak of the First World War. He was 23 years old when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17th August 1914. He departed Sydney with the 3rd Battalion on 20th October 1914 aboard HMAT Euripides.

Briggs served with the 3rd Battalion in Gallipoli where he was promoted to sergeant on 18th May 1915. He fell ill in November 1915 and recuperated in Egypt until he re-joined his unit on 30th December 1915. Briggs was transferred to the 55th Battalion on 13th February 1916 but he didn't stay with this unit for long. He was transferred to the 14th Australian Machine Gun Company on 11th March 1916. Briggs served with this unit on the Western Front until 20th July 1916. It was whilst fighting to occupy German trenches during the battle of Fromelles that he was reported missing and it was later confirmed that he had been killed in action on 14th September 1917. Henry Briggs is commemorated on the Villers-Brettoneux Memorial, France.

s flynn

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