Francis W Clifford 7352 Private 3rd Battalion AIF

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Posted on 23 October 2021

During September 2021 the war grave claim for William Francis Clifford was accepted by the Commonwealth Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). Hence, his death in Dubbo on 27 December 1942 has now been accepted as being related to his war service in the 3rd Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during WW1. As Francis Clifford, he enlisted in the 3rd  Battalion, AIF,  on 19 February 1917 in Sydney. His full name was William Francis Clifford. He was also known as Nip Clifford. On the same day his brother ,Terence Thomas Clifford, known as Tom Clifford, also enlisted in  the 3rd Battalion in Sydney. They both fought on the Western Front. Terence was killed in action on 23 August 1918. He was buried in the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, Picardie, France. Though Private Francis Clifford was gassed on the Western Front, he survived the war. He returned to Australia after completing his AIF service, escorting German internees back to Germany after the end of the war. Private Clifford also had service in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during WW1. 

After returning to Australia he settled in Narromine NSW, where he grew up. Here, Nip Clifford took a keen interest in sport, especially boxing, where he was a trainer, referee and promoter. This was mentioned in the local newspapers at the time of his death in 1942.      

In May 1939 the death of William Francis Clifford, known as Nip Clifford, was reported in newspapers. This was certainly news to Nip Clifford as he was very much alive. When Nip Clifford was in the Australian Army during WW2 he visited Dubbo NSW in April 1941 and confronted the editor of the Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, the local newspaper, about the misreporting of his death in 1939. Nip explained how the mix up in identities occurred and received an apology from the newspaper. He also spoke about his RAN and AIF service during WW1. He mentioned that he had caught up with Jack Hamilton VC who was now a Lieutenant at the Dubbo Army Camp. Jack Hamilton VC was Nip's platoon sergeant in France during WW1. Nip Clifford also served at the Dubbo Army Camp where he arranged boxing bouts.         

Nip Clifford was discharged from the Australian Army on 29 July 1942, as being medically unfit, and died in the Dubbo District Hospital on 27 December 1942. He was buried in the Dubbo Cemetery, now the Old Dubbo Cemetery. The Dubbo Regional Council, who now manages this cemetery, has confirmed that Nip Clifford is buried in the cemetery but he has no headstone and the Council is unable to give an exact location for his grave.

As the death of Nip Clifford has been accepted by DVA as war related the Office of Australian War Graves will now commemorate Private Clifford's war service. It has been decided that Private Clifford will be commemorate with a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance, Rookwood, Sydney, NSW.