The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6291) Private Ernest Bullock, 23rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.346
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 12 December 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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (6291) Private Ernest Bullock, 23rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6291 Private Ernest Bullock, 23rd Battalion, AIF
KIA: 4 October 1918

Story delivered 12 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Ernest Bullock.

Ernest Bullock was born on 27 July 1895 in Murrumbeena, Victoria, to John and Mary Bullock.

Ernest attended Clyde North State School, but when he was 13 years old, his father died, and he left school to work as a farmer.

By the time the First World War had begun, Ernest was working with his older brother Thomas and his wife on their farm at Garfield.

The two brothers enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 7 July 1916 and were given consecutive numbers. After their initial training, they were allotted to the 18th reinforcements to the 23rd Battalion, leaving Melbourne in late November aboard the transport ship Hororata, bound for England.

On arrival in England, they were posted to the 6th Training Battalion and underwent intensive training to prepare for the Western Front. As winter gave way to spring, Ernest was briefly hospitalised in March 1916 with influenza.

The brothers sailed for France in early May, joining the 23rd Battalion in the middle of the month. After a period of front-line service, their first major action came in early October when the battalion took part in the capture of Broodseinde Ridge.

In January 1918, Ernest was evacuated to hospital with a fever. He remained in hospital for almost a month before returning at the end of February.

He next saw action in March when the German army launched their spring offensive. The 23rd Battalion played a part in the defence of Dernancourt. In early July, the battalion was involved in the capture of Hamel, one of the finest victories by the AIF in France.

Ernest Bullock was gassed several weeks later when the Germans shelled his battalion’s positions near Villers-Bretonneux. He was evacuated to hospital at Abbeville to recover. He returned to the battalion at the beginning of September, but was sent on leave to England a few days later. He returned at the end of the month, as the 23rd Battalion was preparing to go into the line for the last time.

The battalion fought its last battle around the town of Beaurevoir on 3–4 October. On the second day, Bullock was acting as a stretcher bearer, moving through the battalion’s front-line trench to recover a casualty. A German shell landed in the trench near him and the resulting explosion killed him instantly.

He was 23 years old.

Ernest Bullock was buried in the Carriere British Cemetery. After the war his remains were exhumed and reinterred in the Bellicourt Cemetery.

His brother Thomas survived the war, and returned to Australia in 1919.

Ernest Bullock is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 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 Ernest Bullock, 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 (6291) Private Ernest Bullock, 23rd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)