The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Flers
Accession Number AWM2016.2.177
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 25 June 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by , the story for this day was on (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

4524 Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion, AIF
KIA 15 November 1916
Photograph: P00124.001

Story delivered 25 June 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell.

Malcolm Southwell, sometimes known as “Mac”, was born in 1888 to George and Anne Southwell. The family had lived in the district around Queanbeyan and Canberra from 1834, and Anne’s family, the McIntoshes, were also well established locally.

Early in the new century, Southwell’s family moved to Ainslie in Canberra. Malcolm worked in “afforestation”, planting pine trees around Canberra. He was working on Mt Stromlo in October 1915 when he left to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in at the age of 27. An assembly was hurriedly called together in Queanbeyan to bid him farewell. Archdeacon Bartlett said to Private Southwell:
"I don’t want to dishearten or disappoint you, but my sincerest wish is that when you get to the front you will be told your services are not required and that you will be asked to return to Queanbeyan."

Southwell joined the 20th Battalion in France in October 1916. Six weeks later they were called on to participate in the fighting at Flers, where I ANZAC had already conducted a series of offensives. When the 20th Battalion moved into the front line it had been raining heavily for some time, and the men found themselves waist-high in mud. After three days of extreme conditions, including German artillery barrages and the constant threat of counter-attack, the men were in a “very poor state” and had to be put in reserve for an attack made by the rest of their brigade.

On 15 November 1916, the day after the operation began, Private Southwell was found lying dead in a sap. He had been wounded in the head, although reports differ as to whether it was the result of a bullet or a shell fragment. He was buried in the battlefield and later re-interred in the AIF Burial Ground at Flers.

In Australia Anne Southwell, long since widowed, received word of her son’s death. A memorial service was held for him just after Christmas, during which Ainslie’s Presbyterian Church was “crowded with people of all denominations” wishing to pay their respects.

Malcolm Southwell was described by one who had known him all his life as “a man full of promise, a deep thinker, a splendid worker … a born fighter … a loving son to his mother”. The community expressed its sorrow to the family, telling them that “it must be their chief consolation to know that he laid down his life in the noble cause of righteousness and liberty, and therefore died not in vain”.

Private Malcolm Southwell’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4524) Private Malcolm McIntosh Southwell, 20th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)