The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2339) Private Norman John Warren Hoffmeyer, 38th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/027.01
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 31 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (2339) Private Norman John Warren Hoffmeyer, 38th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

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

Speech transcript

2239 Private Norman John Warren Hoffmeyer, 38th Battalion
KIA 31 August 1918
Photograph: E03077 (sitting in front trio on left without instrument)

Story delivered 31 August 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Private Norman John Warren Hoffmeyer.

Norman Hoffmeyer was the son of Olaf Ferdinand and Kate Hoffmeyer. His father was born in Denmark and married a local girl from Bendigo. They settled in Bendigo and Norman and his siblings were born there. The marriage was not a happy one and Kate sued for divorce when Norman was a young boy, although he maintained at least some contact with his father.

Nevertheless, Norman received a good education through Dookie College and went on to work as a farmer in Gippsland. When war broke out in Europe in 1914, he tried to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, but was turned down twice owing to problems with his feet.

Because he had a Germanic-sounding name and his father was born in Denmark, Hoffmeyer had a letter of recommendation to bolster his chances on his third try at enlisting. The Bendigo town clerk wrote, "He is the son of the most loyal and estimable Bendigo Citizens and should he be accepted as a soldier to fight for Great Britain and the Allies, I am confident that the part allotted him in any capacity will be worthily performed." On this attempt to enlist, in September 1916, he was finally successful and was posted to the 38th Battalion.

His mother's family formally acknowledged Norman's departure with a presentation of a beautiful fountain pen. He was a popular man in the Bendigo district, and left to the sound of "three ringing cheers".

Hoffmeyer was a member of the 38th Battalion band, and as such would have been a stretcher-bearer rather than an active combatant. Nevertheless, this was a dangerous role and in June 1917 Hoffmeyer was received a shrapnel wound to his left eye. He was not away from his unit for long, however, and apart from a short period of leave in England in early 1918, he never left the 38th Battalion again.

In late August 1918 the 31st Battalion was involved in an attack on the German line near the Canal du Nord. Under heavy shell-fire they advanced and took their objective. Casualties were slight for August, with just 38 men killed, but on the last day of the month one of those men was Private Norman Hoffmeyer. The exact manner of his death is not recorded, but he was buried in the Péronne Communal Cemetery near where he died. He was 23 years old.

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 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 Private Norman John Warren Hoffmeyer, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.