The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Captain Charles Arblaster, 53rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/028.01
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 1 September 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on Captain Charles Arblaster, 53rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

Captain Charles Arblaster, 53rd Battalion
DOW 24 July 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 1 September 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Captain Charles Arblaster.

Born in Pennyroyal, Victoria, Charles Arblaster was educated at Melbourne High School before being accepted as part of the second intake of cadets at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in March 1912. Accelerated through for early graduation in November 1914, he was then appointed a lieutenant in the 8th Light Horse Regiment, AIF.

Arblaster arrived on Gallipoli with his regiment in May 1915, and while it suffered heavy losses during the charge at the Nek on the 8th of August, he was spared. In late September, Arblaster was in command of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade machine guns on the Table Top, immediately below the point at Chunuk Bair, when he was shot in the foot.

After convalescing in England, Arblaster transferred to the 53rd Battalion in March 1916 and was promoted to captain.

The 53rd Battalion arrived in France on 27 June 1916 and entered the front line for the first time on the 10th of July, becoming embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front at Fromelles on the 19th of July. The 53rd took part in the initial assault and Arblaster played a significant role, taking on the leadership of the battalion in the firing line after the battalion commander, and then the senior company commander, were killed. Official historian Charles Bean wrote that throughout the terrible night of the battle, Arblaster "had shown himself a singularly cool and brave leader". In a counter-attack to restore a position, Bean wrote that Arblaster "distributed along his trench a number of men with bombs, and, giving the signal, led them over the parados and charged across the open. They were at once met by heavy fire - the gallant leader was mortally wounded."

Arblaster was taken prisoner by the Germans and treated at a military hospital, but died of septicaemia on the 24th of July, aged 21. He is buried in the Douai Communal Cemetery.

The name of Captain Charles Arblaster is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War. His story is also featured in the Memorial's new exhibition Salute: Canberra's military heritage, which has been produced as part of this year's Centenary of Canberra celebrations.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Captain Charles Arblaster, 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 Captain Charles Arblaster, 53rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)