Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Hawkchurch, Devon, England, United Kingdom

General information

Day laborer

Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 29th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Row: C
Grave: 5

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Private Harry Lacey served in the 29th Battalion Australian Infantry, part of the 8th Australian Brigade, of the 5th Australian Division. He participated in the Battle of Polygon Wood on the 26th of September 1917. This Battle was a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres.
The 5th Australian Division attacked with three brigades. The 14th Australian Brigade on the left of the Divisional front and the 15th and the 8th Australian Brigades on the right.
The plan of attack went as follows. Firstly the 59th Australian Battalion of the 15th Australian Brigade would capture and secure the first object, which was called the Red Line. Once they had consolidated the Red Line, the 29th and 31st Australian Battalions were to move through the 59th Battalion and had to capture the second objective, known as the Blue Line.
At 5.50 a.m. the troops moved forward behind a creeping barrage. The 59th, 29th and 31st Battalions quickly got intermixed. The advance came to a standstill, when the attacking parties encountered German machine gun fire coming from the direction of Jerk House, on their right. They came to a halt on the racecourse in Polygon Wood, 150 yards from the first objective.
Notwithstanding the German machine gun fire, the 31st and 29th Battalions moved through the 59th Battalion and advanced to the second objective. The 29th Battalion was on the left of the attack.
Moving through the remnants of Polygon Wood the Australian 5th Division lost contact with the Royal the 33rd Division, on their right. Consequently the men in Polygon Wood came under fire from German bunkers, in the 33rd Divisional area. Machine gun fire still came from Jerk House, as the area had yet to be cleared by the 33rd Division. Once Jerk House had fallen, the men now faced machine gun fire coming from Cameron House. Subsequently the allied advance through Polygon Wood was checked again and it was decided to hold the attack till contact was reestablished with the 33rd Division. Disorganization crept in along the line and several Battalions of the 33rd Division were seen retreating. The 29th and 31st Battalions had no choice but to dig in and hold the line. All troops now remained in position, except the men on the right flank, who were to assist the advance of the 33rd Division. When contact had finally been re-established with the 33rd Division, the 31st and 29th Australian Battalions managed to consolidate the second objective at the far end of the Polygon Wood at 11 a.m.
The Battalion was relieved by the 30th Australian Battalion on the 27th of September and moved back to the Clapham Junction area. Burying parties were detailed to find and bury the dead in Polygon Wood. Most men were buried close to the place where they fell. But owing to the relentless shelling and machine gun fire very little could be accomplished.
Private Harry Lacey was killed in action during the attack on the 26th of September 1917. He was initially buried in the field near the Racecourse in Polygon Wood. His remains were exhumed after the war and were interred in Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood.

Files 1

Sources 7

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 93-94.
Sources used
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Australian War Memorial
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National Archives of Australia
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The Long, Long Trail
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War Diary Australian Infantry 29th Bn.
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