The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 58th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/834.01
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 30 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 Richard Cruise the story for this day was on Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 58th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 58th Battalion
KIA 12 May 1917
Photograph: H05926

Story delivered 30 May 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser.

Fraser was a 38-year-old farmer from Western Victoria when he enlisted in July 1915. Before the war he had served nine years with the Victorian Mounted Rifles, and when he was posted to the AIF's 57th Battalion he was given the rank of sergeant.

The battalion arrived in France in late June. Within weeks it was involved in the battle of Fromelles, its first major operation on the Western Front. Fortunately for the 57th, it had a supporting role and suffered relatively light casualties compared to its sister battalions.

Fraser was sent out over several nights before the main attack to cut through barbed-wire entanglements. He had become something of an expert at this, and was mentioned in despatches for his work.

He later wrote that the battalions:
... met with too hot a reception and suffered severely; the distance was too far ... high explosives and shrapnel were flying everywhere. The bombardment kept up all night and a good few of my mates passed out that night; so far, three of my section have been killed and two wounded badly out of twelve.

When the battle was over, Fraser and others began the dangerous and difficult task of retrieving the wounded from no-man's land. Over three days he and others went out looking and listening for those still alive. He wrote:
One foggy morning in particular, I remember, we could hear someone, over towards the German entanglements calling for a stretcher-bearer; it was an appeal no man could stand against so some of us rushed out and had a hunt.

We found a fine haul of wounded and brought them in, but it was not where I heard this fellow calling so I had another shot for it and came across a splendid specimen of humanity trying to wiggle into a trench with a big wound in his thigh: he was about 14 stone weight and I could not lift him on my back, but I managed to get him into an old trench and told him to lie quiet while I got a stretcher. Then another man about 30 yards out sang out, "Don't forget me cobber." I went in and got four volunteers with stretchers and we got both men in safely.

Fraser's heroism has since been recognised in a sculpture of him by artist Peter Corlett that stands in the Australian Memorial Park at Fromelles. More recently, a copy of the sculpture was unveiled on Melbourne's St Kilda Road.

Fraser would not survive the war. The Victorian farmer was later transferred to the 58th Battalion. He was killed at the second battle of Bullecourt on 12 May 1917, aged 40.

Simon Fraser's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with the more than 60,000 other Australians who died in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Simon Fraser, 58th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)