The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1689) Sergeant Walter Farquharson, 19th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/872.01
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 12 July 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 Ryan Wilson the story for this day was on (1689) Sergeant Walter Farquharson, 19th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

1689 Sergeant Walter Farquharson, 19th Battalion
KIA 3 May 1917
Photograph: P00518.003

Story delivered 12 July 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant Walter Farquharson, of the 19th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

Walter Farquharson was born in the seaside town of Kiama, New South Wales, one of five children. He worked as a Post Official and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915 as reports of the Gallipoli landing reached Australia.

Farqharson's first experience of battle came near the French village of Pozières in July 1916. Here Farquharson was shot in the right arm and was sent to a hospital in Cardiff, Wales, to recover. He wrote to his mother, saying, "although it is fairly serious, I am exceedingly lucky... [it] is only a flesh wound". Walter enjoyed his convalescence in Cardiff. He wrote to his father that "the people here are wonderfully kind; they cannot do enough for we Australians."

Farquharson took many months to recover. He wrote home to say, "before I went to the Somme I thought we were OK, but since then I've seen what has to be done, and got a slight idea of what it is going to cost." He returned to his battalion in France in early 1917, promoted to the rank of sergeant. So much had changed that he barely recognised anyone.

The 19th Battalion was participating in operations against the Hindenburg Line as Farquharson rejoined it. He saw serious fighting there, and wrote, "this is the first time, I can truthfully say I have used any rifle to shoot at a
living target." He wrote that the Germans were "supposed to have miles of it before the Hindenburg Line. To us will fall the opportunity of trying to break through and that at no distant date".

On the 3rd of May 1917 the 19th Battalion took part in an operation against the French village of Bullecourt, an outpost to the Hindenburg Line. At the end of the day, Walter Farquharson was missing. In early 1918 Mr and Mrs
Farquharson finally received official word that Walter had been killed in action.

Farquharson had survived the initial rush into the German trenches at Bullecourt. He and Corporal Lanni Ward found themselves holding a position until the 19th Battalion was forced to withdraw later that night. Farquharson, Ward, and Sergeant Maxey held the position until the rest of the men got back to their own trenches. Ward left Farquharson and Maxey in order to care for a wounded officer, and when Ward finally got back to his lines he was surprised to hear that Farquharson and Maxey had never returned. Maxey's
body was later found, obviously struck by artillery fire. Farquharson, who must have been caught in the same fire, was never found. He was 25 years old.

Later that year the Farquharson family lost another son, Walter's younger brother Frank, also serving on the Western Front.

Sergeant Walter Farquharson's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with approximately 60, 000 others from the First World War, and his photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is one of many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Sergeant Walter Farquharson, Private Frank Farquharson, 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 (1689) Sergeant Walter Farquharson, 19th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)