The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Gordon Breen, 23rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU/907.01
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 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on Second Lieutenant Gordon Breen, 23rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1020 Second Lieutenant Gordon Breen, 23rd Battalion
KIA 4 July 1918
Photograph: H06689

Story delivered 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Gordon Breen.

A blacksmith from Camperdown in Victoria, Gordon Breen enlisted in the army in March 1915, aged 21. He left Australia with his unit, A Company of the 23rd Battalion, in May 1915. After further training in Egypt, Breen was sent with his unit to Gallipoli in September that year, where they held the dangerous and active line at Lone Pine for three months until the evacuation of Gallipoli in December.

Breen saw further action with his unit on the battlefields of the Western Front in France and Belgium over the next two years. He took well to his role as a soldier, and was promoted to sergeant by June 1917. Earlier that year, he had spent two months recuperating in England after he received a bayonet wound to the arm while carrying rations to front line units in northern France.

On 20 September 1917, Breen's unit came under heavy German artillery fire while camped in Chateau Wood, near Ypres in Belgium. One round landed close by, starting a fire in an ammunition dump only metres from Breen's men. With little regard for his own safety, Breen scattered the burning ammunition boxes, preventing a potential explosion and saving the lives of those nearby. He was awarded the Military Medal for his actions.

Despite his modest education and background, Breen showed great leadership qualities and was soon after recommended for commission. He was posted to the Cadet Training Battalion in England and rejoined the 23rd Battalion in France seven months later with the rank of Second Lieutenant.

On 4 July 1918, only two weeks after rejoining his unit as an officer, Breen was fatally wounded during the successful Australian advance on German positions in the village of Hamel in northern France. He was then 25 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour to my right, along with around 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 Second Lieutenant Gordon Breen, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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