The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1520) Sergeant Reuben Collings, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.121
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 1 May 2019
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 (1520) Sergeant Reuben Collings, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1520 Sergeant Reuben Collings, 19th Battalion, AIF
KIA 14 November 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant Reuben Collings.

Reuben Collings was born in 1893 in Wollongong, New South Wales, one of 11 children of Henry and Ann Collings. Reuben’s father was a prominent figure in Wollongong, serving as alderman and deputy mayor at various times. The family were brought up in the Methodist Church, where Henry Collings was an active worker and choirmaster. After attending the local public school, Reuben went to the Metropolitan Business College in Sydney before working as a clerk for Richardson and Wrench, merchants, in Sydney.

Collings left his position in Sydney to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1915, shortly before the landings at Gallipoli. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas on board the troopship Themistocles a little over a month later. He joined the 19th Battalion on Gallipoli the following August.

Private Collings remained on the peninsula for the rest of the campaign, and after returning to Egypt the following January was promoted to corporal.

After transferring to France to fight on the Western Front, the 19th Battalion participated in the fierce fighting around the French village of Pozieres in July and August 1916. Collings came through without injury. Some weeks later he was again promoted, reaching the rank of sergeant.

In November 1916 the 19th Battalion was in the front line near the French village of Flers. On the evening of 14 November the battalion took part in an operation to capture some German trenches. Sergeant Collings found it easier to walk on the parapet of the trench to get his men into order before the attack began. As he did so he was shot in the abdomen and collapsed. Some of his men took him for help, but Collings died about half an hour later.

A friend later wrote to Reuben Collings’ father, Henry, to tell him how Reuben died. He wrote, “It is useless me saying anything, because words cannot express my feelings. The true meaning of death is not brought home to us until we lose one whom we hold dear. It is only then that we realise the presence and awfulness of war.”

Today Reuben Collings is buried in the Warlencourt British Cemetery under the words “He died for liberty, Empire and home.” Sergeant Reuben Collings was 23 years old.

His 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 Sergeant Reuben Collings, 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 (1520) Sergeant Reuben Collings, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)