The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3939) Private George Weir, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.168
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 17 June 2017
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (3939) Private George Weir, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3939 Private George Weir, 3rd Battalion
KIA 6 November 1916

Story delivered 17 June 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private George Weir.

George Weir was born in 1895, one of six children of David and Isabella Weir of Kiama, in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. George attended school in the district and later paraded with the local cadet unit as part of the government’s compulsory military service scheme. On the eve of First World War he was working as a farmer.

George Weir enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915 and, after a period of training at Holsworthy Military Camp, embarked for the training camps in Egypt with a reinforcement group for the 3rd Battalion. The fighting on Gallipoli had ended by the time George arrived, however, and the following months in Egypt were spent training as the AIF underwent a major restructure in preparation for its departure for the Western Front.

After arriving in France in April 1916, Weir spent several weeks in the relatively quiet Nursery Sector near the town of Armentières, where most of the fighting consisted of patrolling and trench raids on the German trenches. In July, the 3rd Battalion was sent further south to the Somme, where they took part in the capture of Pozières village. On 23 July, the day that Pozières fell to the Australians, Weir was wounded in the face by shrapnel. He was evacuated by hospital train to a field hospital at Boulogne. Weir spent several weeks recovering from his wounds, returning to the battalion in September.

Having suffered heavy casualties on the Somme, the 3rd Battalion was sent north to Belgium in October for a period of rest and recovery in the relatively quiet Saint Eloi sector south of Ypres. Once the battalion was brought back up to strength, it returned to the Somme in November to take up its winter positions holding the line between the villages of Flers and Gueudecourt, where the Australians spent the bitterly cold winter of 1916. Ground churned up by artillery turned into a morass when the rains began as the Australians filed into the line. In this sector, the bleak and miserable conditions were far greater enemies than the German army.

Although the fighting was limited in the Flers sector, the Germans shelled the Australian positions constantly throughout that winter. Work parties were forever rebuilding trenches destroyed by bombardments. On 6 November 1916, one such shell landed amid a work party mending a trench in the 3rd Battalion lines. Among the casualties was George Weir, who is believed to have been killed in the explosion. His body was not recovered from the battlefield. Aged 24 at the time of his death, his body was never recovered from the battlefield. Today he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, alongside 10,737 Australians killed fighting in France with no known grave.

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

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3939) Private George Weir, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)