William Joseph Burkett

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 17th Bn. (New South Wales)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

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


Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

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

My story

Private William Burkett served in the Australian Infantry 17th Battalion, part of the 5th Australian Brigade, of the 2nd Australian Division. He embarked from Sydney on the 11th of November 1916 on the troopship HMAT A29 Suevic. On the eve of autumn 1917 the 2nd Australian Division took part in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September), a stage in the Third Battle of Ypres.

On the 20th of September 1917 the Division attacked from Westhoek Ridge. Its attack was carried by the 5th and 7th Australian Brigades and was aimed at the German line, which ran along a spur known as Anzac Ridge. The 5th Australian Brigade – on the left of the Divisional front - attacked with the 20th and 18th Battalions. The 17th Battalion was in support and had to capture the third and last objective, a line running from Garter point to polygon Wood.

In the early hours of the 20 September the 20th and 18th Battalions assembled at Westhoek Ridge, while the 17th assembled at Bellewaerde Ridge. The attack began at 5.40 a.m. And the 20th Battalion went forward behind a creeping barrage. Half an hour later the Battalion captured the first objective, the Red Line. The 18th Battalion moved through the 20th and captured the second objective, the Blue Line, by 07.40 a.m. Now the 17th started its advance.

In the muddy and desolate valley of the Hanebeek stream, the Battalion was shelled by the German artillery. Notwithstanding the shelling the 17th suffered only slight casualties and moved through the line of the 20th Battalion, and later through the 18th Battalion. Under cover of a barrage the 17th Battalion advanced to their objective, the Green Line, which was quickly occupied without opposition. When the Germans had recovered from the initial blow, they started shelling the area of the 17th Battalion, while German airplanes machine-gunned the men. Battalion Headquarters were relocated to a captured German pill-box at Garter point, due to the heavy shelling. The German artillery kept shelling the 17th Battalion’s positions throughout the afternoon, causing very heavy casualties.

Private William Burkett was killed during the attack on Anzac Ridge. According to his Red Cross Wounded and Missing File he was initially buried south of Anzac House, along with several other men of the 17th Battalion. His grave was lost later on and he is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Files 1

Sources 8

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 81-83.
Sources used
"The Story of the Seventeenth Battalion A.I.F. in the Great War 1914-1918", Mackenzie K.W., Sydney, 1946, pg. 190-193.
Sources used
Sources used
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 A.I.F. 17th Bn.
Sources used