The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2105) Private James Tod Aitken, 5th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/904.01
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 09 August 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 (2105) Private James Tod Aitken, 5th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2105 Private James Tod Aitken, 5th Battalion
KIA 8 August 1915
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 9 August

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Tod Aitken.

Jim Aitken, born in the Victorian country town of Chatsworth in 1882, was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs David Aitken. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School as a boarder, where he proved to be a successful junior cricketer and a talented all-round sportsman. He also played one professional game for the Geelong football team against St Kilda in 1903. When war was declared, he was working as a wool clerk for the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Limited in Melbourne.

Aitken enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in March 1915, aged 32, and was posted to the 5th Battalion. After two months' training in Australia he left for Egypt in June 1915. From Egypt he was rushed to the Gallipoli peninsula after only a few days, arriving in early August.

At this time, after months of stalemate, a series of assaults had been planned by the British to break the military deadlock on Gallipoli and achieve a decisive victory. The August offensive produced the largest battles of the eight-month-long campaign, including the famous Australian attacks at Lone Pine and the Nek. The fighting was fierce and bloody, and the casualties high on both sides.

These operations provoked the Turks to action all along the line. On the 8th of August 1915, just before being ordered into the trenches captured at Lone Pine, the 5th Battalion were garrisoning the southern sector of the line at ANZAC. They were under intermittent Turkish shellfire throughout the day, as they had been the preceding day. At some point during this day, Aitken was killed. He had been on the Gallipoli peninsula just three days.

Aitken was buried at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery. His grave is one of some 600 ANZAC and allied soldiers' graves in the cemetery.

The name of Private James Tod Aitken is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War. There is no known photograph of him to place 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 Private James Aitken, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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