Albert Charles Underwood
Serial No. 2929
20th Battalion, 56th Battalion & 60th Battalion
Albert Charles Underwood - Information
Albert Charles Underwood had immigrated to Australia from England with his older sister. Albert and his sister left behind their parents at 216 Knox Rd, Wellingbrough in Northamptonshire, where he was born and raised. Albert had resided and worked in the Campbelltown area, and when the war began, was working as a grocer and living with his sister and her husband Fred, in Wahroonga. Here, at the age of 21, he decided to enlist in the AIF. He then joined up on the 25th of July 1915 at Warwick Farm Depot. During training, Albert was made a Private with the 6th Reinforcements, 20th Battalion. He was then sent overseas for war service onboard the HMAT Euripides, which left Sydney on the 2nd of November 1915.
Albert disembarked in Egypt, and was later transferred to the 56th Battalion in mid February 1916. After joining his new unit at Tel-el-Kebir, he was again transferred to the 60th Battalion in May. He was shortly transported on the Kifauns Castle to the trenches in France. Arriving at Marseilles on the 29th of June, he was marched out to a section of the line, known as The Nursery. Before long, the 60th Battalion were introduced to the horrors of warfare on the Western Front. The 5th Australian Division were put into action to prevent German reserves from reaching the Somme Sector, launching an attack at Fromelles on the 19th of July. During this assault, Albert was reported missing in action. The Battle of Fromelles was disastrous for the AIF. The 60th Battalion lost most of its troops, killed, wounded, or captured and ceased to be an effective fighting force. As the fighting continued, Albert's whereabouts remained unknown. His sister and family back in England were languishing for any news or signs of life from Albert. Over a year later, on the 4th of August 1917, the army conducted a Court of Inquiry into what happened to Albert at Fromelles. They asked the Red Cross to check prisoner of war records in Germany, and combed hospital records; however he was not on any lists. They turned to witnesses from his and other units for answers. It came with the help of another Campbelltown local, Charles Dench, who gave evidence. He stated that on the 19th of July, he witnessed Albert get shot at Fleurbaix as they were advancing at the double towards the German lines. The Court concluded that Albert was therefore killed in action on the 19th of July 1916. However, the whereabouts of his remains are still unknown. It is possible that his identification tags were lost and he is buried in an unmarked grave, or his body remains in the fields of France, with thousands of other lost souls. His name is recorded at the VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles in France. Although, this news would have brought little comfort to his family, whom for the previous year, were hoping that Albert was alive somewhere.