The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of 2/Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith, 28th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.89
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 30 March 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
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on 2/Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith, 28th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2/Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith, 28th Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 September 1917
Story delivered 30 March 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith.

Known by his middle name “Austin”, Ellis Smith was born in Western Australia in 1894 to William and Adelaide Smith. He attended school at Claremont and Cottesloe state schools, and went on to become a wool classer, working for Dalgety’s in Western Australia.

Smith enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914. At the time he was a serving member of the local field artillery brigade, and was accepted for service with the AIF’s field artillery with the rank of gunner.

Smith wrote to his parents from camp in Blackboy Hill shortly before leaving Australia to say:
You are to be brave and proud of the fact you are helping the Empire in her present trouble. You have no need to worry towards my honour being upheld for my part. I trust I shall prove a credit to you both. Perhaps you think I am not conscious of the danger I am about to undergo, if so you are mistaken and I trust I will be brave for my country’s sake; and if I have to take my turn and go under, the same as other poor fellows are doing daily, I pray to God – and I ask you to do so – that I will be able to, without a quiver, just as a Briton and Westralian should.

He left Australia with the first contingent in October 1914, and continued training with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade on arrival in Egypt. In early April 1915 the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade left the Egyptian port of Alexandria for Lemnos Island. There they spent days in Mudros Harbour practising landing guns and horses from troopships. They finally left anchorage at 1.25 am on 25 April 1915, bound for Gallipoli. The brigade was landed in small parties over the next few days.

A few days after landing, Gunner Smith was wounded in the shoulder, and evacuated to Lemnos. He rejoined his unit on Gallipoli in June, and was with them for two months before falling ill. Sent to hospital in England, he took some time to recover, and did not go back to Egypt until March 1916 – only to return to England a few weeks later in preparation for the fighting on the Western Front.

Smith remained in England in staff roles for nearly a year, gaining regular promotion and serving in a number of different capacities. In April 1917 he went to France, and was posted to the 28th Battalion.

In late September the 28th Battalion took part in the Battle of Menin Road. The night before, Austin Smith met his brother Haywood, serving with the artillery, and went back to camp with him. Haywood later recalled: “I had tea with him … needless to say we were talking of home all the time. He was very cheerful and confident of success.”

The attack went ahead in the early hours of 20 September, and was indeed a success. However, Second Lieutenant Austin Smith never knew. He was killed by the concussion of a shell that burst near his position an hour or so before the attack began. He was buried on the spot, but his grave was lost in later fighting. Today he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.

Austin Smith was 23 years old.

His 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 Second Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of 2/Lieutenant Ellis Austin William Smith, 28th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)