The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4276) Private John Reeves, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.130
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 10 May 2017
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 (4276) Private John Reeves, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

4276 Private John Reeves, 5th Battalion, AIF
KIA 25 July 1916

Story delivered 10 May 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private John Reeves.

John Reeves was born in 1890 to William and Julia Reeves of Lilydale, Victoria. His father was a miner, and after attending St Mary’s Roman Catholic School in Castlemaine, John and his younger brother Thomas both went into Thompson’s Foundry, where John worked as the foundry crane driver, and Thomas as an assistant boilermaker. The brothers were known as “two of the finest Castlemaine footballers” to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force.

John enlisted in July 1915, a little over six months after Thomas. Like Thomas, he was posted to the 5th Battalion. However, before he had completed his training in Australia, the family received word that Thomas Reeves had been killed in action on Gallipoli in September 1915.

John Reeves left Melbourne on 29 December 1915 on board the troopship Demosthenes. He first travelled to Egypt, and then onto France, reaching the battlefields of the Western Front in May 1916.

Two months later the 5th Battalion was involved in its first major action near the French village of Pozières. Two days after the 1st and 3rd Brigades captured the southern part of the village, the 5th Battalion entered the front line and attacked two strong German trenches to the northwest. The attack was only partially successful, and the battalion suffered heavy casualties, including 45 killed, 250 wounded, and more than 150 missing.

Private John Reeves was killed in action on 25 July 1916. Little is known of the manner of his death, and the location of his body was unknown for many years. However, in 1936 a grave containing the bodies of two Australian soldiers was uncovered to the east of Pozières. While one of the bodies remained unnamed, the other was positively identified as
Private John Reeves. Both bodies were reinterred in the London Cemetery and Extension at Longueval. John Reeves was 26 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during 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 John Reeves, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Unit

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