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Hector Louis Polain

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Hector Louis Polain
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Personal Information
Date of Birth c1892
Place of Birth Footscray, Victoria
Death 15 Apr 1917
Place of Death Noreuil, France
Age at Enlistment 23 years, 5 months
Description 5'5" (1.65m) tall ; 165lbs
74.843 kg
; dark complexion ; grey eyes ; black hair
Occupation Carpenter
Religion Church of England
Address Nedlands Park, Subiaco, Western Australia
Next of Kin Step Father , Mr John Alfred Hickman
Military Information
Reg Number 3148
Date of Enlistment 25 Jun 1915
Rank Lance Corporal
Unit/Formation 11th Battalion, 10th Reinforcement
Date of Embarkation 13 Oct 1915 ‒ ?? Nov 1915
Ship Embarked On HMAT A32 Themistocles
Fate KIA 15 Apr 1917 Noreuil, France
Monument Gosnells War Memorial
Gosnells Road Board Honour Roll
Gosnells Ward Honour Roll
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
Australian War Memorial
Medals 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal



Pre War

War Service

Hector entered the Blackboy Hill camp on 25 Jun 1916, and on 1 Jul 1915 he was allocated to the 10th reinforcement draft for the 11th Battalion, and travelled with them to Egypt. At some point he was appointed Lance Corporal as when he joined the battalion proper he reverted to Private.

In Egypt on 29 Nov 1915, Hector was admitted to the Ras-el-tin Convalescent Hospital in Alexandria with the mumps. Improving, he was released to the 4th Australian Auxiliary Hospital on 12 Dec 1915, and then discharged to duty on 31 Dec 1915. On 9 Jan 1916 he was able to be taken on strength by the 11th Battalion which was now back in Egypt at Gebel Habieta.

On 29 Mar 1916 the battalion had travelled by rail to Alexandria, and there boarded HMT Corsican for Marseilles in southern France, arriving there on 5 Apr 1916. From there they travelled to northern France by slow train, in cattle wagons. Hector was again appointed Lance Corporal on 19 Jul 1916.

In the late Spring of 1917 the Germans began a strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line to shorten their defensive line and to release troops for other fronts. As they did the allies followed them and a number of battles occurred as retreating German troops sought to buy time for the completion of their new defensive line. One such battle occurred at Lagnicourt where on 15 Apr 1917 the Germans counterattacked in force. The 11th Battalion was a part of the troops holding the northern section of the front lines that were attacked - near Noreuil. For most of the day their trenches were on the receiving end of a heavy artillery bombardment and sustained attacks on the wildly separated outposts in front of the battalion. In many cases all occupants were either killed or captured. The battalion suffered 245 casualties. Including Hector, 180 men were marked as missing in action. That he was declared Killed in Action within a few days implies that someone was able to report this or had been able to collect his pay book, but the lack of grave might indicate that he was a victim of the heavy shelling before the attack.

Overall the battle was fought between 4,000 Australians and 16,000 Germans with the Australian suffering 1,010 including 300 taken prisoner, while the Germans lost 2,313 including 362 prisoners of war.

  • Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
  • Section of the 11th Battalion's panel

Notes

Hector's Mother received a pension of 40/- per fortnight from 6 Jul 1917.

Hector's connection with the Gosnells district is unclear. However, he is the only possible match for a name that appears on the Gosnells War Memorial.


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