The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3331) Lance Sergeant Ernest Augustus Jentsch, 53rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/850.01
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 17 June 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 Nicholas Schmidt the story for this day was on (3331) Lance Sergeant Ernest Augustus Jentsch, 53rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

3331 Lance Sergeant Ernest Augustus Jentsch, 53rd Battalion
KIA 19 July 1916
Photograph: P02150.001

Story delivered 17 June 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Lance Sergeant Ernest Augustus Jentsch.

Ernest Jentsch was born in the Sydney suburb of Enmore to Felix and Alice Jentsch. As a young man he worked as a clerk at Tooth's Brewery on Broadway. Jentsch was an enthusiastic motorcyclist and an active member of the Ashfield Bowling Club. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915 and left Australia for Egypt the following November with reinforcements to the 3rd Battalion.

While in Egypt, Jentsch was assigned to the 53rd Battalion and served on the headquarters staff as a pay corporal and staff sergeant. He remained there until June 1916, when he left Egypt for France. He also left his clerical role in favour of an active combat role.

The 53rd Battalion's first major engagement on the Western Front came on 19 July 1916, when they were ordered to attack the German lines near the French village of Fromelles. This attack was a disaster. While small parts of the German position were captured, casualties were so heavy in most parts of the line that troops in these small advanced positions were forced to retire. The Australian 5th Division, of which the 53rd Battalion was a part, suffered 5,533 casualties in the 14 hours of the battle and would be incapable of serious offensive action for many months.

One of those casualties was Lance Sergeant Ernest Jentsch. Reports from men who were there indicated that he was killed by shell-fire while out in the open. The Germans recovered his body and confirmed his death through reports made in 1916, and another made in 1919 by the Royal Prussian War Office.

Ernest was never forgotten by his family, who put annual notices in the Sydney Morning Herald for decades following his death. However, his final resting place remained a mystery. For many years he was commemorated by name only at VC Corner Cemetery near Fromelles, and on local memorials such as the Roll of Honour in the Ashfield Bowling Club. But in 2009 a mass grave was located in Pheasant Wood, very near the site of the battle at Fromelles in July 1916. The remains of Ernest Jentsch were identified through DNA testing. His remains are now buried in a marked grave in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today by the Pool of Reflection.

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

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