The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6939) Private Robert Mactier, 23rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/018.01
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 29 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (6939) Private Robert Mactier, 23rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

**Due to technical issues this recording is of poor quality and not for public display.**

Speech transcript

6939 Private Robert Mactier, VC, 23rd Battalion
KIA 1 September 1918
Photograph: H06787 and H06787A

Story delivered 29 August 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private Robert Mactier.

Bob Mactier was the seventh child of Robert and Christina Mactier of Tatura, Victoria. He left his occupation of farming to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in March 1917 and was sent to overseas with the 23rd Battalion.

Mactier proved "a very popular chap" in the battalion, and was liked for his cheerful and obliging disposition. His popularity was only enhanced by his role as a prominent footballer in battalion competitions.

But Mactier also proved to be a very able soldier. He served on the Western Front in 1918 as the Australian Corps was at the forefront of a general British advance. He was with the 23rd Battalion when they fought near Albert in April, and at Hamel in July. Bob Mactier was "recognised as the most uncomplaining 'digger' in the company, and whether the job was pleasant or painful" he did it with a smile, and considerable courage.

On 1 September the 23rd Battalion went into action to take back the French village of St Quentin. As the battalion was trying to assemble in their 'jumping-off' trench, they came under fire from a number of German strong-posts. Two bombing patrols were sent to deal with these positions and failed. The situation was most serious for the 23rd Battalion, who were in danger of being left behind and not protecting the flanks of the operation on either side of them.

Mactier was acting as a scout that day, and was sent forward by Lieutenant Jenkins to see what was causing the hold-up. Discovering the German machine-gun nests, he jumped out of his trench alone and in broad daylight and rushed the first position, killing a garrison of eight men manning the machine gun. He then ran forward to the
next one and took six men prisoner. He went on to the third German strong-point, avoiding fire from a German machine gun that swung onto him, and bombed the position from the rear. Mactier was killed near this third post by close-range machine-gun fire, but not before killing 15 men, taking another 20 prisoners and neutralising the threat from three strong points. In his recommendation for an award, it states that "it was entirely due to this man's exceptional bravery and determination that the Battalion was able to carry out the successful operation of capturing the village of Mt St Quentin a few hours later." Mactier was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The battalion's trench newspaper said that Mactier "died only as a hero can die, and the thoughts of his valour will remain when time has effaced most other records from the battalion memories& in short [he was] a soldier and a man."

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with 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 Private Robert Mactier, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.