Hangard Wood British Cimetery : Headstone rededication ceremony

Location information

Hangard is a village between Domart-sur-la-Luce and Démuin. The road to Villers-Bretonneux goes due north from the village, up a steep hillside. After 2 kilometres it passes between the two portions of Hangard Wood, and Hangard Wood British Cemetery will be found at this point.

Historical information

At the end of March 1918, Hangard was at the junction of the French and Commonwealth forces defending Amiens. Between 4 and 25 April, the village and Hangard Wood were the scene of incessant fighting, in which the line was held and the 18th Division were particularly heavily engaged.

In July 1918, the site of the cemetery was in German hands, but it was cleared by the Canadian Corps early on 8 August 1918, and the Corps Burial Officer began this cemetery later in the month. A number of graves of April 1918, as well of those of August, were brought in, and after the Armistice other graves of April 1918, were concentrated from Villers-Bretonneux, and of October 1916, from other parts of the Somme battlefield.

The cemetery now contains 141 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 39 of which are unidentified. There are also 14 French burials in the cemetery.Corporal Donald Anderson - Hangard Wood

Headstone rededication ceremony


Mr Dennis Frank of Melbourne and Mr Andrew Pittaway of Fremantle have identified a grave in the Hangard Wood British Cemetery as that of Corporal Donald Anderson, 19th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF). For nearly a century, his grave marker has commemorated an "Australian Corporal of the Great War" who died on 7 April 1918. 

Research has shown that there are 44 Australian "missing" who died on that day, which are among the more than 10 700 names of Australians missing in France that are recorded on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. All but one of the 44 are from the 19th Battalion’s fight at Hangard Wood, and only one of the 44 was a Corporal – Donald Anderson. Red Cross and other records corroborated this conclusion. 

Donald Anderson was born in Callander, Scotland, and had worked as a jackaroo in Western Australia before he enlisted in Sydney on February 1915, aged 27. 

He recorded his father as his next of kin: Andrew Anderson from Kilmahog, near Callander in Scotland. 

Donald served at Gallipoli, and was evacuated to England with severe dysentery. While on leave from hospital in Cardiff he met Dorethy Bailey who he would marry in 1917. 

Donald was later wounded on the Somme in July 1916, and returned to hospital in England in February 1917 with trench foot. He would not be fit to re-join his battalion until early 1918. 

Corporal Anderson was reported as missing in action and then subsequently, killed in action on 7th April 1918.  He was last seen lying severely wounded during an attack by his company on an enemy position at Hangard Wood (Not far from Villers-Bretonneux).  Corporal Anderson’s remains were found in August 1918 by Canadian Forces and he was buried in the Hangard Wood British Cemetery as an “Australian Corporal of the Great War 8th August 1918, Known unto God”.  

The research by Dennis Frank and Andrew Pittaway has revealed Corporal Anderson’s identity and final resting place and also corrected the date he was killed in action as the 7 April 1918 (not the 8th August 1918).


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