Max Clifton

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Clifton, Sergeant Max no.829

20th Battalion.

“Canberra” Moore Street, Campsie.


Born East Bergholt, Suffolk, England.

Son of Charles and Susan Clifton.

Educated East Bergholt.

Came to Australia at age 17.

Lived in Glen Innes.

Married Margaret A. Gardner 1915.

Enlisted 21/3/1915 at Glen Innes.

Next of kin, wife, Margaret Ann Clifton, “Canberra” Moore Street, Campsie.

Casualty list DT 6/1/1917 - Returned to duty,

The 19th and 20th Battalions went into action at Hangard Wood on 7/4/1918. Their objective was to retake a gully east of the wood - the British had been driven back from that position on 4-5 April. The 19th Battalion, further north, annihilated a machine gun post in a daring charge. They killed about 30 Germans and took 3 officers and 50 men prisoner, and marched them back to their headquarters. The surviving officer of the 19th Battalion reported that it was impossible to achieve the objective, and that he had ordered his men to withdraw. In the meantime, two platoons of the 20th Battalion, advancing through the south of the wood, were open to intense German machine-gun fire from a spur on the other side of the gully. There was little cover for the Australians, as their entrenching tools made no impression on the chalk ground. Sergeant Max Clifton was ordered to take half a dozen men and hold a shooting box nearby, but the Germans surrounded them, and the remainder of the platoon was ordered to retire to the old front line. The group in the shooting box could for some time afterwards be heard fighting. Sergeant Max Clifton died of wounds two days later. (Summarised from C.E. W. Bean Official history 1918 v.1 p.510)

Died of wounds at Peronne (then in German territory), after action at Hangard Wood, as a Prisoner of War 9/4/1918, aged 24.

“Five of the deceased’s brothers were fighting with the British forces. One received the DSO and MM’. Buried Tincourt New British Cemetery, grave V II.C.15. Tincourt was a centre for casualty clearing stations.

AWM File IDRL428, Letters to the Red Cross re Australian servicemen:

Sergeant B.F. Lyon no.608, Billets, Boulogne, 20/5/1918:

I knew him well, he was an original man and a Sergeant in C Company. I knew he was wounded about 7th April at the Bois de Hangard and I believe Lieutenant Burdus 20th Battalion could give details. He was of medium height and build clean shaven, rather full face, aged should say, between 25 & 30.

Private Cassidy no.6889, no. 8 General Hospital, Rouen, 1/6/1918:

Clifton was a Lance Corporal and Acting Sergeant, I think of D Company. He was about 23. On 7th April at Hangard Wood to the right of Villers Bretonneux, just after dusk, we were evacuating our trench. Several of us were detailed to go out and fetch our dead and wounded Corporal Smith of A Company and with the Unit when I left, was detailed to collect the Pay Books and Identification Discs. We came to three men lying together, and whilst placing one of them on the stretcher, I plainly noticed the name “Clifton ” on his disc, also that he was a C of E man and had a low number. We brought this man back behind the lines, where he was buried by other men. I know of no other Clifton in the Battalion.

Letter from CSM C.H. Butler C Company 20th Battalion, London, 19/6/1918:

Regret to inform you that this soldier was badly wounded when last seen and is still posted missing. Several of the men who were posted missing in the same stunt have since been reported as Prisoners of War, but Sergeant Clifford was not mentioned.

Died Prisoner of War 9/4/1918 (Result of Gun Shot Wound in Lung) in the Field Hospital. Buried Military Cemetery, Peronne.

Certified by German List 25/5/1918. London, 21/6/1918.

Translation of German Death Voucher received from Mr Wilson and passed on to AIF Headquarters, 1/11/1919:

Central Information Bureau, Berlin, W. 7. 16/10/1919 ?? It is hereby certified that there is here produced a death card of the Ref 111 according to which the Australian Prisoner of War, Clifton, Sgt, of the 20th Infantry Battalion, Australia, died 9th April 1918 in Field Hospital 397 Peronne (shot in lungs). List at Refill no.20922/12/W.J.A. Seal of Prussian War Office, Central Information Bureau, (signed) DuTort London 3/11/1919

British Red Cross Society, Berlin Branch, 2/7/1919:

Berlin Information Buro: 3 cards exist: 2 death & 1 nachlass. Died Feldloz 397 Peronne, Buried Military Cemetery Peronne HK294 (Ref.I Grave 28?) Z.N. 1876.4.18

Australian War Memorial record available at: [accessed 30/09/2016],

Special acknowledgement

The primary source of the information on this page is copied from the prize winning publication Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. This book is the culmination of 12 years (1988-2000) research by a team of volunteers from the Canterbury and District Historical Society led by Dr Lesley Muir. Without this team's effort and dedication and the Society's willingness and support, this information would not be available today.


An uneditable version of the book Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe is in the eBook section of this wiki. In the main section, there is an alphabetical list of the 1,911 individuals recorded in the book - the list is titled Canterbury's Boys List. Each name in the list is linked to an editable biographical file created by copying the biography copied from the book. These editable biographies have been created to provide the space for descendants, historians, researchers, etc to add information, photographs, newspaper articles, memories, etc. they have discovered so it is available for this and future generations.


Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. Edited by Lesley Muir. Campsie, N.S.W. : Canterbury and District Historical Society, 2002