The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2585) Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey, Australian Salvage Corps, First World War

Accession Number PAFU/823.01
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 18 May 2013
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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every 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 Charis May the story for this day was on (2585) Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey, Australian Salvage Corps, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

Last Post closing ceremony
Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey
Date of death 17/5/18
Image accession number: E01085
Roll of Honour panel number: FWW 184

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey of the Australian Salvage Corps.

Born in England, Ernest, known always as Ernie, moved to Australia when he was 23 to begin a new life. He found work in Western Australia driving engines and assessing and valuing gold, but when the call to defend king and country rang out across the British Empire, Ernie didn’t hesitate to enlist.

At the end of 1915, Ernie set sail for Europe bound for the bloody battlefields of the Western Front. He survived a bitter winter on the Somme, and in early 1917 he was transferred to the Salvage Corps, where he helped to collect and sort discarded weapons and equipment for scrap and repair.

When Ernie was granted leave some months later, he returned to England and fell in love with Emily Klein, a young Englishwoman. On 28 August 1917, Ernie married his sweetheart before he was re-posted to the Australian War Records Section in France.

This unit was responsible for gathering records and relics for the national museum which Captain Charles Bean and Major John Treloar hoped to build when the war finally came to an end. Ernie was an enthusiastic collector and often travelled to Australian units on foot or by bicycle to find new material.

Ernie also loved to tinker with the mechanics of shells and bombs, deactivating the weapons so that they could be added to the collection and eventually shipped home to Australia. But on 17 May 1918, Ernie was killed when he accidentally hit the casing of a French bomb with a chisel.

His young wife was heartbroken. In a letter to Ernie’s widow, Charles Bean tried to offer some consolation: “The Great Australian War Museum, when it finally stands in the Australian capital, will be a monument to him, for it is his work that thousands upon thousands of Australians will see as they walk down those galleries.”

Ernie was laid to rest in the British ceremony at Vignacourt. He was 33.

Ernie Bailey’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.


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  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2585) Corporal Ernest Lionel Bailey, Australian Salvage Corps, First World War (video)