The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4753) Private James Crawford 13th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.221
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 8 August 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
Description

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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (4753) Private James Crawford 13th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

4753 Private James Crawford 13th Battalion, AIF
DOW 3 September 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 8 August 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Crawford.

James Crawford was born in 1870 at Hillhead, in County Donegal, Ireland, to William and Elizabeth Crawford. He attended Castlefin Number 2 Primary School, and after leaving school he went to work as a farm labourer. In his early thirties he was working for the Black family on their property Grahamsland at Castlefin.

Crawford immigrated to Australia in 1910 and settled in Gilgandra, New South Wales, where he found work on a farm. Following the outbreak of the First World War, a local recruitment society started looking for recruits for the AIF.

Crawford enlisted on 9 October at Gilgandra. Though he was already 45 years old, he put his age down to 38 and was accepted. He joined around 30 other men who proceeded to march to Sydney, gathering recruits on the way. By the time they reached their destination, having covered a distance of 320 miles, their numbers had increased to around 300 men. This became known as the Coo-ee March.

After a period of training Crawford was allotted to the 15th reinforcements to the 13th Battalion. He embarked from Sydney aboard the transport ship Star of England in March 1916, arriving in Egypt in early April. The following month he was sent to France.

Crawford was sent to the Australian 4th Division Base Depot at Étaples. There he remained until mid-August, when he was sent forward to join the 13th Battalion at Pernois, north of Amiens.

The battalion had suffered heavy casualties in the fighting for Pozières, and was in the process of reorganising. Over the following week, it moved back to the fighting front and entered the front line near Mouquet Farm.

At 11 pm on 29 August the 13th Battalion was involved in an attack near Mouquet Farm. It took its first objective and held off a German counter-attack, but owing to a lack of numbers was forced to retire. For the remainder of the night the battalion was subjected to heavy German shelling.

The next day was relatively quiet, and later that night the battalion was leaving the front line when four men were wounded by shell-fire. One of these men was Private Crawford, who received multiple shrapnel wounds to his back. He was evacuated to the 49th Casualty Clearing Station, where he underwent operations to remove the shrapnel and repair as much of his wounds as possible. However, he did not recover, and died on 3 September. He was laid to rest at Contay British Cemetery. He was 46 years old.

Crawford’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 others from the First World War.

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

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4753) Private James Crawford 13th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)