The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3945) Private Joseph Henry Turnbull, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.275
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 02 October 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

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 (3945) Private Joseph Henry Turnbull, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3945 Private Joseph Henry Turnbull, 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA: 2 July 1916

Story delivered 2 October 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Joseph Henry Turnbull.

Joseph Henry Turnbull was born in 1895 in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, to William and Ellen Turnbull, and was the third of nine surviving children born to the couple.

In the early 1900s the Turnbull family moved to Queensland, and by the end of the decade William had deserted his family. By the time the First World War began, Joseph was working as a labourer and the family were living in Teutoberg, a town in the Sunshine Coast region that was first settled around 1887 by German immigrant families, but was renamed Witta during the course of the war due to anti-German sentiment.

Joseph’s oldest brother Thomas enlisted immediately, joining the 9th Battalion. He was mortally wounded during the landing at Gallipoli and died on 28 April 1915.

Two of Joseph’s other brothers also enlisted and served. William with the 9th Battalion, and John, who enlisted underage in order to join the 11th Machine Gun Company. Both survived and returned to Australia.

Turnbull enlisted in Gin Gin on 22 August 1915. After his initial training, he was allotted to the 12th reinforcements to the 9th Battalion. He embarked from Brisbane on 30 October aboard the transport ship Itonus, bound for Egypt.

He remained in Egypt until late May, when he sailed with other reinforcements to France. Turnbull was sent to the 1st Australian Division Base Details depot at Etaples, before being sent to join the 9th
Battalion in mid–May. The 9th Battalion went into the front line for the first time at Fromelles soon after.

The next month, Turnbull volunteered to join a raiding party being organised and led by Captain Maurice Wilder Neligan. The raiding party trained for several weeks and included many night time forays into no–man’s land to familiarise the men with their plan of attack.

On the night of 1 July, the raid took place. Turnbull was in the right flank company. When he entered the trenches, he was involved in hand–to–hand fighting with the German occupants and during the ensuing minutes, was killed. When the signal to retire was given, his body was carried back to the Australian lines.

The 9th Battalion left the front line in the early hours of 2 July and Turnbull’s body was taken back for burial. He was laid to rest at midday in the Rue–Du-Bois Military Cemetery along with other fallen members of the raid. He was 21 years old.

Joseph Turnbull’s name is 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 Joseph Henry Turnbull, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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