Joseph Douglas France

Information about birth

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

General information

Last known residence:
92 Evans street, Rozelle, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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


Poelcapelle British Cemetery
Plot: LV
Row: B
Grave: 6

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Private Joseph Douglas France enlisted, 23 years of age, together with his younger brother Sydney Frederick on the 24th January 1916.
They were given consecutive regimental numbers in the 17th Battalion AIF, part of the 2nd Australian Division, 5th Brigade.
Joseph worked as moulder in Leichardt, 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:” Joe France was with his company up till after they had dug in after reaching their objective. He was in a shell hole when a Fritz machine flew down over our lines and opened a machine gun on us. One of the bullets from this machine pierced Joe’s heart. He would have been buried in the trench."

Private Joseph Douglas France was 25 years of age, and lies in the Poelcapelle British Cemetery, plot LV, row B, grave 6
His brother Sydney Frederick was also killed in action the same day, during the same Battle

Connection to other soldiers 1

Files 1

Maps View

Sources 8

17th Australian Infantry Battalion, (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/34/26).
Sources used
5th Brigade Australian Infantry, (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM4 23/5/27).
Sources used
Anglican Parish Register 1814 - 2011 (The Sydney Diocesan Archives, Sydney).
Sources used
Australian Red Cross Wounded and missing Enquiry Bureau (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), RCDIG1045299).
Sources used
First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, (National Archives of Australia, Canberra (NAA), B2455, FRANCE J D).
Sources used
McCarthy, Chris. Passchendaele: The Day by Day Account (Londen: Arms & Armour Press, 1995), 80 - 83.
Sources used
Roll Of Honour (Austarlian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), RCDIG1068867).
Sources used
Unit embarkation nominal rolls, 1914-18 War (Australian War Memorial, Campbell (AWM), AWM8).
Sources used

More information 4