Pte
Sydney Frederick France

Information about birth

Year of birth:
1896
Place of birth:
Leichhardt, New South Wales, Australia

General information

Last known residence:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Profession:
Grocer
Religion:
Church of England

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
4720
Enlistment date:
24/01/1916
Enlistment place:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 17th Bn. (New South Wales)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
20/09/1917
Place of death:
Anzac, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
21

Memorial

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel: Bay 17 stone M

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 ‘Place of death’

My story

Private Sydney Frederick France enlisted, 19 years of age, together with his older brother Joseph Douglas on the 24th January 1916.
They were given consecutive regimental numbers in the 17th Battalion AIF, part of the 2nd Australian Division, 5th Brigade.
Sydney worked as grocer in the city of Sydney, New South Wales and was single.

20th September 1917 was the first day of the Battle of the Menin Road, part of the Battle of Passchendaele ( also known as the Third Battle of Ypres).
The 5th Australian Brigade attacked at 05.40 a.m. with the 20th Battalion and 18th Battalion in support; the 17th and 26th Battalions were in reserve.
The attack went well, although the left of the 20th Battalion met some resistance from a line of old concrete artillery shelters, causing a slight hold up. They went on to the first objective, but whilst attempting to consolidate, came under fire from two pillboxes 200 yards away. To save further casualties, these were dealt with on the spot.

The 18 Battalion took over the attack on the Blue Line, taking Iron Cross Redoubt and Anzac House in its stride.It was then forced to take Garter Point to prevent sniping on troops consolidating the Blue Line.

The third objective, the Green Line, was assaulted by the 17th and 28th Battalions supported by the 26th Battalion, and was taken easily.

An eye witness to Sydney’s death, Corporal J.V. Jacka stated to the Red Cross, “Syd France was a runner when our Battalion went over the top on the 20th. He was sitting in a trench when a shell burst on our parapet. A piece of shell struck him on the chin and caused the bone to be broken right away. He received immediate attention but died at the first dressing station. He would have been buried there. The exact position of the place I can’t tell you.”

Private Sydney Frederick France was only 21 years old, and although it states in his file that he was buried in the vicinity of Westhoek and Anzac Ridge, his remains were never found. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, bay 17 stone M.
His brother Joseph Douglas was also killed in action the same day, during the same Battle.

Connection to other soldiers 1

Files 1

Maps View

Sources 8

"Passchendaele, The Day-by-Day Account",McCarthy C., Arms&ArmourPress, London, 1995, page 80 + 82-83"
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/923589/sydney-frederick-france/
Sources used
Service Record
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=4033161
Sources used
The AIF Project
https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=102935
Sources used
The Australian War Memorial
https://www.awm.gov.au/advanced-search/people?people_preferred_name=France&people_service_number=4720&people_unit=
Sources used
The Long Long Trail
http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/order-of-battle-of-divisions/2nd-australian-division/
Sources used
War Diary 17th Battalion
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1343929
Sources used
War Diary 5th Brigade
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1347529
Sources used