The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4849) Lance Corporal Alfred Leslie Pitt, 50th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/861.01
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 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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 Joanne Smedley the story for this day was on (4849) Lance Corporal Alfred Leslie Pitt, 50th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

4849 Lance Corporal Alfred Leslie Pitt, 50th Battalion
KIA 23 February 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 30 June 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private Alfred Leslie Pitt.

Alfred Leslie Pitt was born in 1898 to an unwed mother, Edith May Pitt. She later married, and Alfred became better known as Frank Salter, taking on his step-father's name. He was a keen footballer in his local area of Stepney, a suburb of Adelaide. In November 1915 he enlisted under his birth name, aged just 18, and with the full consent of his mother became a soldier in the Australian Imperial Force.

Pitt was sent overseas as part of a group of reinforcements to the 4th Australian Division. On arrival in France he was allocated to the 50th Battalion and went on to serve with them around the French village of Pozières. This was the scene of intense fighting under some of the heaviest artillery bombardments seen on the Western Front. However, with just one lapse of military discipline, Pitt survived these battles.

During the long, cold winter of 1916-17, one of the harshest seen on the Somme for some time, the 50th Battalion was rotated in and out of the front line. In many respects that winter was a case of live and let live, with both sides simply trying to survive the extreme cold. However, the front was still a dangerous place, with active snipers and ongoing artillery fire.

Pitt was promoted to lance corporal on 14 February 1917, and made No. 1 on the Lewis gun team of B Company. Less than two weeks later he was with the team in a trench in front of the French village of Flers. On 23 February, on the afternoon they were due to be relieved, a German shell landed in the middle of the Lewis gun crew's position, killing Lance Corporal Alfred Leslie Pitt and three others instantly. The remains of Pitt and his comrades, Privates Angrave, Halvorsen and Larwood, were unable to be distinguished from each other, and they were buried together behind the lines later that night in a single grave.

He was 19 years of age, and sadly missed in the battalion, where he was known as "a quiet chap" who was "very nice & and always good humoured". His mother, stepfather, sisters and brothers remembered him as a man who "died an Australian hero fighting to save us all".

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, with around 60,000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today beside 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 Private Alfred Leslie Pitt, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4849) Lance Corporal Alfred Leslie Pitt, 50th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)