|Last Post film
Australian War Memorial
|Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
|4 July 2013
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1059) Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, 43rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War
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 (1059) Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, 43rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.Film order form
1059 Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, 43rd Battalion
KIA 4 July 1916
Story delivered 4 July 2013
Today, we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, who died 95 years ago today at the Battle of Hamel.
Jack McCann followed in the footsteps of his two elder brothers, William Francis James McCann and Claude Cyril John McCann, when he enlisted in February 1916.
He was appointed to the 43rd Battalion and fought with them on the Western Front from June 1916. On 4 July 1918 the 43rd Battalion spearheaded an assault against the village of Hamel, a battle which came to be known for its remarkable success. Australian and American troops worked together in the attack, achieving all of their goals within just 93 minutes - just three minutes longer than planned. But even successful battles came at a cost. Jack Stewart Sydney McCann was killed near the end of the operation. He was buried in an improvised cemetery in the field, aged 22, with five other men. It is quite likely that all six were killed by the same artillery shell.
The officer commanding his company wrote that Jack would be very much missed, both for his "soldierly qualities" and for his "unfailing cheerfulness [which was] remarkable and did much to lighten the monotony of life in the trenches and billets for those who came in close touch with him".
McCann's elder brothers both served with distinction, and survived to return to Australia. William, serving with the 10th Battalion, was awarded the Military Cross and bar, and the Distinguished Service Order, and became one of only a very few men to rise from private to battalion commander over the course of the war. Cyril, serving with the 27th Battalion was promoted to Lieutenant and was awarded a Military Cross.
Jack Stewart Sydney McCann's military career, particularly in comparison with his brothers', was not remarkable. He served his battalion and his country faithfully and in good cheer, but inconspicuously. Even his death was somewhat anonymous, probably the result of a stray artillery shell. However, in choosing the words for his headstone, his parents indicated their pride in his service. His stone says, "In loving memory of our dear boy Jack. Well done."
His 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 but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1059) Lance Corporal Jack Stewart Sydney McCann, 43rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)