Cecil Herbert McKeown

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Cecil Herbert McKeown
Personal Information
Date of Birth c1900
Place of Birth Gosnells, Western Australia
Death 30 Mar 1918
Place of Death 11th Australian Field Ambulance, Querrieu, France
Age at Enlistment 18 years, 3 months
Description 5'5" (1.65m) tall ; 116lbs
52.617 kg
; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; fair hair
Occupation Clerk
Religion Church of England
Address c/- Post office Gosnells, Western Australia
Next of Kin Mother , Mrs Hope Trestrail
Military Information
Reg Number 3442
Date of Enlistment 16 Apr 1917
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 44th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement
Date of Embarkation 29 Jun 1917 ‒ 25 Aug 1917
Ship Embarked On HMAT A30 Borda Fremantle to Plymouth
Fate Wounded in Action 30 Mar 1918
Died of Wounds 30 Mar 1918
Monument Gosnells War Memorial
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Primary School Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
Australian War Memorial
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Cecil was born in Perth in 1900. His mother, Hope Scrivener, married James Henry McKeown in Perth in 1902 and Cecil took his step-father’s surname. James, who was a guard on the trans-Australian railway, was killed in a derailment on 5 January 1915. He was buried in the Catholic part of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery two days later. Later that year, Hope married Mr Frederick Trestrail in Perth. Cecil was 15 years old at the time. Cecil was working as a clerk when he enlisted in 1917. He lied about his age, noting he was 18 years old and three months when he was probably 17. His attestation paper notes he also required extensive dental work.[1]

War Service

Entered camp on 16 Apr 1917,a nd on 28 May 1917 he was allotted to the 21st reinforcement draft for the 28th Battalion, but this changed on 29 Jun 1917 to the 8th draft for the 44th Battalion. He sailed with them to England. On arrival in England he was sent to the 11th Training Battalion at Sutton Mandeville to prepare for service in France and Belgium.

On 7 Sep 1917 he reported sick to the Fargo Military Hospital and was admitted, suffering with an internal hernia. On 6 Oct 917 he returned to the 11th Training Battalion. On 11 Nov 1917 he was transferred to the 10th Training Battalion. Here, on 15 Jan 1918 he was charged with "Putting Government property to improper use, in that he used a bayonet as a poker for the stove in Hut NO 5, Camp 20. For this crime he was Admonished on 17 Jan 1918. Soon after, on 23 Jan 1918 Cecil proceed overseas to France through Southampton.

On arrival he spent two days with the Divisional Base Depot before joining the 44th battalion on 29 Jan 1918 in the front line south of Ploegsteert Wood. On 23 Mar 1918 the battalion was ordered south to the Somme to assist in stopping the major German advance then underway. They began by marching from Blaringhem to Arques. The next three days saw them mix route marches with railway journeys and bus rides as they moved to their new position outside Heilly. Orders were received to occupy Corbie and other villages on the Ancre River and hold a line near Sailly-le-sec. On the night of 28 Mar 1918 'A' and 'C' companies, in light rain were advancing towards the village when they were cut down by German machine guns, suffering 90 casualties. Things were relatively quiet the next day as the Germans moved large numbers of reinforcements to the area and prepared for an attack on the Australian positions.

At noon, on 30 Mar 1918 this attack took place, with 'B' Coy of the 44th Battalion holding over 2,000 yards (1,800 metres) of front with 180 men. Despite facing far superior numbers they held the position with no German getting within 300 yards of their position. By 6:00pm the enemy had withdrawn having suffered severe losses. B Company of the 44th Battalion's cost, when relieved later in the day, was four dead and six wounded, with Cecil one of the wounded. However, he died later that day in the 11th Australian Field Ambulance from the wounds he had received.

  • Heilly Station Cemetery
  • CWGC


  1. Gosnells Local History Collection - The Gosnells Honour Roll at Gosnells Primary School

External Links