Benjamin Clifford Crouch
Name: Benjamin Clifford Crouch
Preferred Name: Cliff
Service Number: 2791
Unit Served: 43rd Battalion
Personal Details: Benjamin was born on 24th September 1893, sixth child of Joseph and Lucy Crouch, Inglewood.
Benjamin lived at the bottom of Prairie Road, Cudlee Creek with his parents, 7 sisters and 2 brothers. He had brown eyes and light brown hair, and was 5 foot 8 inches high, and weighed 146 lbs. After attending Millbrook School, Benjamin was a farmhand.
On 9th September 1916 in Loxton, he was considered fit for active service. Benjamin joined the Australian Infantry on 27th and after training at the Mitcham Camp, now Colonel Light Gardens, sailed for England on the Berrima on the 16th December 1916, arriving in Devonport in England on the 16th February 1917.
He marched in on the 19th February 1917 into the 2nd Training Battalion and then transferred to the 11th Training Battalion on 5th March 1917. On the 2nd of July, Benjamin proceeded overseas to France, spending a fortnight in camp at Etaples before marching out to join his unit on the 16th. He was taken on strength by the 43rd Battalion on the 18th. At this time the 43rd was in training near Neuve Eglise, in preparation for an assault near Warneton on the 31st July.
For the next two weeks, Benjamin’s battalion keenly practised the attack planned for 31st July, including jumping from replica trenches and marching in gas respirators. A 1/50th scale replica of the battlefield was made to allow all ranks to gain an understanding of the objectives for the attack and the roles that they would each play. One aim of the operation was to deceive the enemy in to thinking that there was to be an attack on Lille, when actually the real aim was to establish a series of strong points. One of 585 soldiers, Benjamin pushed through the dark, facing artillery fire. The objective was achieved at the highest cost, 39 lives lost, one of them being Benjamin.
There is a reference to him being buried near the track leading to the Steignast Farm, but his grave was not identified after the war and he is remembered on the walls of the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper.
Age at Death: 23
Memorial Details: Ypres (Menin Gate). Honour Roll Cudlee Creek Soldiers Memorial Hall
Burial Site: Not known, your family wonders were you lie, you are in their thoughts.
Image from the "Observer" 13th October 197 sourced through Trove