Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Rutherford, New South Wales, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 33rd Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Lijssenthoek, Remy Siding, No. 2 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium
Cause of death:
Died of wounds (D.O.W.)


Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
Plot: XXII
Row: B
Grave: 11

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Lieutenant William Layton served in “B” Company of the Australian Infantry, 33rd Battalion, part of the 9th Australian Brigade, of the 3rd Australian Division.

The Division participated in the First Battle of Passchendaele on the 12th of October 1917. This battle was a stage in the Third Battle of Ypres. The final objective of the attack was the village of Passchendaele itself. The 3rd Australian Division attacked with two brigades from its position near Augustus Wood. The 9th Australian Brigade, was on the right of the Divisional front, roughly between Augustus Wood and the Ypres-Roulers railroad. It advanced with 34th, 35th and 36th Battalions. The 33rd Battalion was in reserve.

At 5.25 a.m., the barrage came down. It was very weak and it was difficult to determine which was the own barrage and which was German shell fire. Due to ample covering fire from the artillery and the terrible condition of the ground the men made little headway. On top of these dire circumstances the attacking parties were facing concrete pill-boxes, which had a clear view over the boggy plain. These German strongpoints were all situated on the high ground at Augustus Wood, at Bellevue and at Heine House. The relentless German machine-gun fire caused heavy casualties amongst the attackers and the Battalions of the 9th Australian Brigade advanced in total confusion.

Although the 33rd Battalion had to remain in reserve, “D” Company and two platoons of “B” Company joined the attack and followed the barrage. According to Lieutenant McLean of “D” Company the men of the 33rd had strayed to the northeast. They probably ended up in the sector of the 10th Australian Brigade as “D” Company was lying on the slope of the Bellevue Ridge, while Lieutenant Layton and his men were holed up in a swamp, possibly at Waterfield.

Almost five hours after the start of the attack the Battalion took up positions east of Heine House. “B” and “D” Company had suffered heavy casualties and both Companies had to be amalgamated into one company under the command of Lieutenant Cormack. At 3 p.m. the troops in front of the 33rd Battalion were retiring and they were forced to consolidate a new line West of Augustus Wood. At 7 p.m. the Battalion received orders to withdraw from the front line.

Lieutenant William Layton was mortally wounded during the First Battle of Passchendaele. He was evacuated to No. 2 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Remy Siding at the hamlet of Lijsenthoek. Lieutenant William Layton succumbed to his wounds on the 17th of October 1917. He was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Files 2

Sources 8

"Never a Backward Step. A History of the First 33rd Battalion, AIF", Edwards J., South Grafton, Bettong Books, 1996, pg. 52-57.
Sources used
"The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995, pg. 113-115.
Sources used
A.I.F. Project
Sources used
Australian War Memorial
Sources used
Sources used
National Archives of Australia
Sources used
The Long, Long Trail
Sources used
War Diary, 33rd Australian Bn.
Sources used