The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1344) Corporal Joseph Charles Bottom, 14th Field Artillery Brigade, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.220
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 8 August 2018
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1344) Corporal Joseph Charles Bottom, 14th Field Artillery Brigade, First World War.

Speech transcript

1344 Corporal Joseph Charles Bottom, 14th Field Artillery Brigade
KIA 8 August 1918
Story delivered 8 August 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Joseph Charles Bottom.

Joe Bottom was born in 1889 to William and Catherine Bottom of Cooma, New South Wales. His older brother, Will Spencer, used his mother’s maiden name, and moved to Townsville after finishing his education. Joe also moved away as a young man, taking up a position with E.K. Pepper and Company in Inverell. He was described as “a fine stamp of a young man” and was a keen sportsman. Also a member of the town band, Joe Bottom was “extremely popular amongst a large circle of acquaintances”.

Joe and both of his brothers, Will Spencer and Leslie Bottom, tried to enlist separately after the outbreak of war in 1914. While they were successful, Joe was turned down because his chest measurements did not meet the minimum enlistment requirements of the time. He was successful in August 1915 after the enlistment standards had been relaxed. None of the three brothers served together. Will and Les went into different infantry battalions, and Joe served with the 14th Field Artillery Brigade.

Joe Bottom underwent a period of training in Australia before sailing for Egypt. He continued training in the desert camp on the outskirts of Cairo for some months before leaving for France in June 1916 with the 25th Field Artillery Brigade. He served with this brigade for six months before being transferred to the 14th Field Artillery Brigade in early 1917.

In March, Bottom’s brigade was not far from Albert firing against German defensive positions. On 15 March, a shell burst near Bottom’s battery, severely wounded him in the face, neck, chest, and arm. He was evacuated to England, and took more than a year to recover.

In May 1918, Bottom was finally well enough to return to his field artillery brigade in France. Two weeks after leaving Southampton he rejoined his unit and was promoted to corporal. Six weeks later his brother, Lieutenant Will Spencer, was killed in action at the battle of Hamel while serving with the 15th Battalion.
Corporal Bottom’s field artillery brigade was involved in the next major battle fought by the Australian Corps – the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. Amiens was a stunning success, with the Australian and Canadian infantry advancing miles across the old Somme battleground. The 14th Field Artillery Brigade “put down a barrage in support of operations and fired for several hours covering [the] advance of tanks and infantry”.

Bottom’s section of the 53rd battery of the 14th Field Artillery Brigade was ordered to move forward with the infantry after the final objective had been taken. They packed up and harnessed the guns to horses, but before the order to leave was given a German aircraft flew over, dropping three bombs in their midst. Four men, including Corporal Joe Bottom, were killed outright. At least six others were wounded, two of whom would later die of wounds, and around 16 horses were also killed.

Sergeant Les Bottom, now the only brother left, wrote to his parents to say:
No doubt long before this reaches you, you will have been notified of the deaths of both poor old Will and Joe: I knew that the news would be a shock to you both but being the parents of such noble men as they both were, how can you do anything else but bear up bravely under that shock, and ever in your sorrow be proud that your boys gave their lives fighting bravely and well for you and all else they hold dear.

Les was granted Australia leave in late 1918, and was on his way home when the war ended. Before he left France he made sure to visit his brothers’ graves. He had been seriously wounded on more than one occasion during the war, and while in Sydney during his 1914 leave, he was in a small car accident that exacerbated these old wounds. By March 1921 he had been permanently hospitalised for two years, and he died later that year at the age of 26. For years afterwards, William Bottom attended Anzac Day services in Cooma with his wife and daughters, leaving wreaths in loving remembrance of their three boys: Will, Joe, and Les.

Corporal Joseph Bottom’s name 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 Corporal Joseph Charles Bottom, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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