|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||30 March 2017|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1953) Private George Gunning, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.
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 Josie Dunham, the story for this day was on (1953) Private George Gunning, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.
1953 Private George Gunning, 2nd Battalion, AIF KIA 8 August 1915
Story delivered 30 March 2017
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private George Gunning.
George Gunning was born in Hay in New South Wales in 1880 to Joseph and Eliza Gunning. His father owned and operated the Bridge Hotel, was an early property developer, and was described as a “leading light in the early days of Hay”.
George was educated at the Church of England Grammar School, known as Shore, in North Sydney. He was a prefect and a member of the rowing team. Following school, Gunning followed his passion for rowing and moved to Victoria to compete in professional races. He had some minor success, but returned to Sydney a few years later and retired from the sport. He became an accountant and a rowing coach. After leading a Sydney University team and a seniors’ crew to victory he was selected to coach the NSW crew at the Interstate Eight-Oared Championships in 1913.
Gunning enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1915, at the age of 34. At the time he was the honorary treasurer of the New South Wales Rowing Association, and vice-captain of the North Shore Club.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, which was part of the 1st Brigade, and embarked from Sydney in April on board HMAT Hororata, bound for Egypt. After a period of training in Egypt, Gunning was sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula, arriving in early July.
On the 6th of August, the 1st Brigade led the charge at Lone Pine in a brutal and bloody battle that pitched Australian forces against formidable entrenched Turkish positions. While the main Turkish trench was taken within 20 minutes of the initial charge, this was the prelude to four days of intense hand-to-hand fighting which resulted in over 2,000 casualties.
Private George Gunning was among those killed in action in the battle of Lone Pine. He was initially reported as wounded on 8 August and this status was later upgraded to “wounded and missing”. It was not until the end of May 1916 that a court of enquiry determined he had been killed in the battle.
An article about Gunning published in the Sydney newspaper Referee in June 1916 remarks: “It seems hard to realise that he has lost his life fighting, because in private life he was one of the most genial men one could meet. He had a smile and a good word for everyone, and was very popular.”
Private Gunning’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 George Gunning, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Emma Campbell Researcher, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1953) Private George Gunning, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)