The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1615) Private Albert Percival Adcock, 50th Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bapaume Cambrai Area, Noreuil
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.283
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 9 October 2020
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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (1615) Private Albert Percival Adcock, 50th Battalion, AIF, First Wolrd War.

Speech transcript

1615 Private Albert Percival Adcock, 50th Battalion, AIF
KIA 2 April 1917

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Albert Percival Adcock.

Albert Adcock was born in the Adelaide suburb of Wayville on 26 of November 1896, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Adcock. His father was the minister at the Wayville Baptist Church, which he had been instrumental in building, and would spend many of Albert’s childhood years working as secretary of the South Australian Temperance Alliance and Reform Bureau. Albert was educated at the Hindmarsh Public School, and went on to work as a clerk. After a number of years working for D & J Fowler, merchants, he became an assistant cashier at the Electrical Supply Company. Having taken his parents’ faith as his own, Albert also worked as a teacher in the Hindmarsh Baptist Sunday School. He was described as being “greatly loved for his cheerful and manly bearing.”

Albert Adcock wanted to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force early in the war, but his parents insisted that he wait until he was at least 19 years old. He finally enlisted on 14 February 1916, and went into camp at Mitcham to begin his training. He left Adelaide on board the troopship Aeneas with reinforcements to the 50th Battalion on the 11th of April 1917.

Private Adcock was first sent to England where he continued training on the Salisbury Plain. During his training he was promoted to corporal, and passed courses for non-commissioned officers, and in musketry at Tidworth barracks in the months after his arrival. Despite the fact that he “secured good marks” in these courses, Adcock reverted to ranks on his departure for France, joining the 50th Battalion on the battlefields of the Western Front in mid-December 1916.

Private Adcock joined his battalion just after the onset of one of the coldest winters northern France had recorded. He remained with the 50th as it spent weeks rotating in and out of the front line in freezing conditions. In the new year, the German Army began withdrawing to a strongly fortified position that would become known as the Hindenburg Line. The 50th Battalion was involved in following the withdrawal.

On 2 April 1917 the 50th Battalion took part in an operation to capture an outpost to the Hindenburg Line – the French village of Noreuil. The 50th advanced on the village from the south, encountering heavy enemy machine- gun fire as they went. The village of Noreuil was captured, but at a heavy cost.

The 50th Battalion suffered more than 350 casualties – more than a third of its strength – during the attack. One of the more than 100 men killed was Private Percy Adcock, fighting in his first offensive operation of the war. Little is known of the manner of his death, although it is likely to be the result of the heavy machine- gun fire coming from the village of Noreuil during the attack.

Private Albert Adcock was buried not far from where he fell in a small cemetery with other casualties from the battle. In later years the cemetery would be obliterated in other fighting, and his grave was lost. Today he is commemorated on a special memorial in the Noreuil Australian Cemetery under the epitaph “a faithful soldier of Christ and country”. He was 20 years old.

In Australia the Adcock family were dealing with the serious illness of Albert’s oldest sister Eva Tucker when he died. She died five days after her brother, the family receiving the news of Albert’s death around the same time. Albert and his sister were commemorated together on a family headstone in the Hindmarsh cemetery, on the plot that would become their parents’ graves.

One year after Albert Adcock’s death his family put a memorial notice in the Adelaide Chronicle. In the notice they included an excerpt from Albert’s last letter home, written shortly before entering battle at Noreuil. He wrote, “I am trusting God to help me through this battle, but if He wishes otherwise, I am still trusting.” The notice concludes: “Thus another brave Australian has passed from the strife of battle to the peace of God.”

Albert Adcock’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 Private Albert Percival Adcock, 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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