The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3765) Sergeant John Edmund Buttsworth, 30th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/056.01
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 27 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 each 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 (3765) Sergeant John Edmund Buttsworth, 30th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

3765 Sergeant John Edmund Buttsworth, 30th Battalion
DOW 8 April 1918
Photograph: P04235.001

Story delivered 27 September 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant John Buttsworth of the 30th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

In 1915, 23-year-old John Buttsworth, or "Jack" as he was known, was living in Bourke in north-western New South Wales, and working as a telegraphist for the Postmaster General's Department. Buttsworth was engaged to Millie, who lived on her family's property in Gerringong on the south coast, nearly 900 kilometres away.

Buttsworth enlisted in the AIF in late 1915 during an enlistment boom that came after the losses on Gallipoli. He sailed from Sydney on HMAT Anchises and arrived in France just before Christmas 1916 with reinforcements to the 30th Battalion. He first went to England and spent a month in the Musketry School in Tidworth before joining his battalion in France.

Buttsworth was to experience the depths of the winters of 1916 and 1917. Bread, raw eggs, and even blankets were frozen solid. Although troops were provided with sheepskin jerkins and mittens, it was hard to avoid the cold in one of the iciest winters France had seen for years. Buttsworth proved an able soldier and received a number of promotions in the field to become a non-commissioned officer.

In April 1918 the 30th Battalion were in reserve behind the lines at Villers-Bretonneux. Buttsworth was distributing rum rations to members of his platoon in reserve trenches when the Germans sent over some artillery shells. Jack was badly wounded in the stomach by shrapnel. He was unconscious when taken to the 9th Australian Field Ambulance, and died thirty minutes later. He is buried at St Pierre Cemetery, Amiens.

Buttsworth's parents and his fiancée, Millie, never received his personal effects, lost when HMAT Barunga was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine in the North Atlantic in July 1918. Millie was left with the keepsakes and mementoes Jack had sent her during his service overseas: a silver-plated notebook and pencil with a message inside that read, "To Millie with best wishes from (Mizpah), Jack"; a brooch with a "small, rose gold scroll impressed with the word "Ypres'"; and a "letter-opener made from shell fragments".

Millie never married, and until her death in 1967 she treasured the mementoes Jack had sent her. They are held in the national collection here at the Australian War Memorial.

Sergeant John Buttsworth's 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 one of many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Sergeant John Buttsworth, 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 (3765) Sergeant John Edmund Buttsworth, 30th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)