Somewhere in France is written as a tribute by the author to his Uncle Jim, 4783 Private James Ross Duperouzel, from York, Western Australia.
At the age of eighteen Jim Duperouzel enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in December 1915. Within days of his 19th birthday Pte. Duperouzel was one of ninety nine AIF servicemen of the 51st Battalion who were killed in action during the advance on Mouquet Farm, near Pozières, France, on 14/16 August 1916. Of the ninety nine servicemen who died only twenty two have an identified grave. Pte. Duperouzel is one of the seventy seven 51st Battalion servicemen who have no known grave.
What started as a quest to discover where ‘in the field’ his Uncle Jim went ‘missing’ the author soon extended the scope of his research in an attempt to also identify, if possible, the probability of where his Uncle’s remains may lie as an ‘unknown soldier’. The result of this research is now in book form for the benefit of the family today and for future generations knowing that very few members of the extended family are likely to make the pilgrimage from Australia to the Battlefields of the Somme.
In addition to the war dead analysis of the 51st based on the records held with War Graves Commission (CWGC) the book includes an account from the Australian War Memorial (AWM) which outlines the involvement of Australia’s role in World War I; Pte. Duperouzel’s early life in York; enlistment in the AIF; the troopship journey from Fremantle to France, via Egypt, in April 1916; the descriptive Wartime diary of 611 Pte. Percy Nuttall, 50th Battalion; Pte. Duperouzel’s Service Record; In Memoriam tributes to ANZAC Heroes and a chapter about ‘Where the Australians Rest’. The appendices include a comprehensive list of the 321 ‘missing’ servicemen of the 51st Battalion (and their next of kin) who lost their lives on the Western Front during the Great War. These men, many of whom came from Western Australia, are commemorated by name and rank on the panels of the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. Somewhere in France also pays tribute to the ‘York Boys’ who Pte. Duperouzel referred to in a letter written to his father, George, whilst on board the troopship, H.M.A.T. ULYSSES A38. Included also are some trench maps; a list of the Prisoners of War of the 51st Battalion; a selection of CWGC Military Cemeteries and Memorials on the Western Front, together with relevant extracts from ‘The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 Volume III’, written by Australia’s official war correspondent, Charles Bean. These describe the horrors of the bombardment and resulting carnage that took place during the advance on Mouquet Farm and Pozières in 1916. Added material from the book of Graham Keech, ‘Pozières – Somme’, enhances the reader’s insight into the events as they unfolded at Mouquet Farm.
Paul Cobb, the author of ‘FROMELLES 1916‘, who has written the Foreword to this book, writes: “Somewhere in France” takes a novel approach and analyses Commonwealth War Graves Commission data and uses other information provided on burials in order to establish likely burial sites where Pte. Duperouzel may rest as an ‘unknown soldier’. This well illustrated account provides a useful insight to the experience and loss of one soldier but which was repeated countless times as war slowly moved to victory in 1918. James Duperouzel, like so many young men of the AIF, remains ‘missing’ but now he has a special memorial in the form of this book.”