Jack Sampson 1899-1918

Jack Sampson

Fifth child of Archie & Eliza Sampson

Born: 11 Jan 1899 Broken Hill, New South Wales

Died: 23 Jun 1918  near Sailly le Sec, France

Buried: Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Picardie, France
               Plot 8 Row D Grave 8

Occupation: Clerk then soldier

Jack spent his childhood in Broken Hill and was sixteen years of age when he moved with his family to Adelaide in 1914. He became a member of the Senior Cadets and spent four years of involvement in this organisation. Jack gained employment as a clerk working for Griffiths’ Brothers, which was a company specialising in teas and coffees.
By 1917 Jack was 18 and had decided he wanted to do his bit for the country in World War 1. However he was underage and needed his parents consent to do so which he obtained.

Jack enlisted on 13 February 1917 in Adelaide.

Jack was described in the enlistment document as 155.6 cm with brown eyes and hair. Denomination: Church of England.
Jack was placed in the 10th reinforcements for the 48th Infantry Battalion. He embarked on 16 July 1917 on board the troop ship HMAT A16. Below is a 1915 photograph of the troopship taken in Fremantle, Western Australia. (Source: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1848)

After disembarking on 16 September 1917 at Liverpool he joined the 12th Training Battalion at Codford on 23rd of the same month. During this period Jack contracted mumps and was in hospital for two weeks. Below is a picture of the Dining Hall for the 12th Training Battalion taken several months after Jack had left to join the 48th Battalion (Source: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/D00211/)

Jack departed England and arrived at Havre on 9 January 1918. He was taken on strength by the 48th Battalion in the field on 26 January 1918. In the month of June Jack’s battalion was situated north east of the village of Sailly le Sec in France. Time was spent on making the trenches and wiring in order as well as patrols going out in attempt to capture a German soldier. The Battalion commander records the event that claimed Jack’s life:

23 – 6 -1918

During the early hours of the morning the enemy aircraft has been active – one plane dropping two bombs on the Ration dump killing two men and wounding five others. The reason for so few casualties occurring is due to the fact that the N.C.O.s in charge of ration parties did not allow their men to come out of the Adelaide C.T. in large parties. The unit on our LEFT had approximately 32 casualities 16 of whom were killed. The American officers from this one incident have learnt a valuable lesson, i.e. Dont allow men to crowd together. (Source: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1344710 with excerpt taken from diary entry for 23.6.18)

Sadly Jack died as an immediate result of this bombing. Below is the Battalion map showing dispositions. The ration dump where Jack died is shown in the middle of this map. (Source:  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1344710 to be found on page 33 of the diary)


The casualties for Jack’s battalion around the date of his death are shown in the table below from the commander’s diary.This is followed by the entry in Jack’s army record of his death.

Today the area in which Jack lived and died is now a rural landscape as shown in the photograph given below.  This was taken in October of 2019. The side of the battalion immediately facing the German lines (where Right Coy and Left Coy are indicated on the battalion map) is shown on the right side of the picture. The middle and rear of the battalion area would be over the rise on the left side of the picture.

Chronicle Sat 29 sep 1917 p.38 TROVE

Express & Telegraph Tue 16 Jul 1918 p.1 TROVE

Daily Herald Thu 18 Jul 1918 p.6 TROVE

Chronical Sat 28 Jun 1919 p.42 TROVE

Observer Sat 18 Mar 1922 p.40

Chronicle Sat 28 Jun 1924 p.55 TROVE

Photo of Jack’s headstone located at Villiers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in France. Location: Plot 8, Row D, Grave 8. Photo taken in Oct 2019.

Hardy Road Torrensville
Feb 1920

Dear Sir
We have received the three photos of the grave of our dear son Pte Jack Sampson 48th Battalion.
Also the description of locality where grave is situated.
Mrs Sampson and Family joins me in thanking you most sincerely for photos.
It is needless to say that we shall prize them very much. We have this consolation in knowing that Jack lead a clean life and died doing his duty.

I am yours

Archie Sampson



The above letters and enlistment documents are found in the National Archives of Australia https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=8074722

The photograph of Jack used at the top of the page was sourced from the Virtual War Memorial website


Are there any photos of Jack with his family or his involvement in cadets or his work as a clerk? Any photos of Jack would be very welcome and would be inserted into this page.