Tag Archives: AIF Burial Ground

Spencer John LETCHER

Spencer John LETCHER

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4832),Spencer John Letcher was born at Cowra, N.S.W.[1]  He gave his age as 18 years and 1 month (though he was younger), his marital status as single, and his occupation as painter. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 8 inches tall, weight 132 lbs., with a fair complexion, grey eyes, and fair hair. His religious denomination was Methodist. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He completed his medical on the 28th October 1915, and was attested at Bathurst on the 28th October 1915. He joined the Coo-ees at Bathurst.

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was 15 Busby Street, Bathurst, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as father, J. J. [John James] Letcher, 15 Busby Street, Bathurst, N.S.W.

On 8th March 1916 Private Letcher along with many of the other Coo-ees departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, and arrived in Egypt on the 11th April 1916.

On the 19th of April 1916 he transferred to the 45th Battalion in Egypt.

On the 2nd of June 1916 Private Letcher left Alexandria aboard the transport Kinfauns Castle bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on the 8th June 1916.

Private Letcher served with the 45th Battalion through its first action at Fleurbaix, France in July 1916, then moved with the Battalion to Pozieres in early August 1916. It was whist the 45th Battalion was in action in the vicinity of Pozieres, France, that Private Letcher was killed in action on the 6th August 1916. He was buried on the battlefield.

After the war Private Letcher’s grave was located and his remains exhumed. He was reburied at the nearby A.I.F. Burial Ground, Grass Lane, Flers, France.

Private S. J. Letcher's headstone at AIF Burial Ground, France (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/9/2014)

Private S. J. Letcher’s headstone at AIF Burial Ground, France (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/9/2014)

Private Letcher’s name is commemorated on panel 140 on the Australia War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

His name is also remembered on the Bathurst South Public School Roll of Honour board.

Research note:  His NSW Birth Certificate shows that he was born on 8th March 1899, so he was actually only 16 years and 7 months when he joined the Coo-ee March, and only 17 years and 4 months of age when he died.[2]



[2] NSW Birth Certificate, LETCHER SPENCER J 11458/1899 JOHN J LOUISA COWRA

AIF Burial Ground – France


On Thursday 4th September 2014 Stephen and I drove to the AIF Burial Ground, which is located 2 km north of the small village of Flers, in the Department of the Somme, France.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website http://www.cwgc.org/, this cemetery was used by Australian medical units from November 1916 to February 1917. There were other burials made from spring 1917 to the summer of 1918. Further burials were made after the Armistice for soldiers who had buried in temporary graves on the battlefields of the Somme and elsewhere.

There are 3,475 First World War Commonwealth soldiers either buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 2,263 of the burials are of unidentified soldiers.

Spencer John Letcher, a painter on enlistment per his service record, who joined the Coo-ees at Bathurst, is the only Coo-ee buried in this cemetery. He died of wounds on the 6th August 1916, and was buried on the battlefield in the vicinity of Pozieres.   After the war his remains were recovered by the Imperial War Graves Commission and reburied in this cemetery.

The photograph below shows Private S. J. Letcher’s grave 3rd from the right at the AIF Burial Ground. His age is given as 18. The inscription at the bottom of his headstone reads “For Australia”. The two headstones on his right are both for unknown soldiers.

AIF Burial Ground, France (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/9/2014)

AIF Burial Ground, France (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/9/2014)