The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6191) Lance Corporal James Tinnock Bulkeley Gavin and (6188) Private Gavin Gordon Bulkeley Gavin, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/063.01
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 04 October 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 (6191) Lance Corporal James Tinnock Bulkeley Gavin, 26th Battalion (Infantry) and (6188) Private Gavin Gordon Bulkeley Gavin, 26th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

6191 Lance Corporal James Tinnock Bulkeley Gavin, 26th Battalion
KIA 4 October 1917
Photograph: P03174.002

188 Private Gavin Gordon Bulkeley Gavin, 26th Battalion
KIA 4 October 1917
Photograph: P03174.001 and P03174.002

Story delivered 4 October 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to the Gavin Brothers - Lance Corporal James Tinnock Bulkeley Gavin and Private Gavin Gordon Bulkely Gavin.

James and Gavin were two of ten sons and two daughters born to Scottish migrant John Alexander Gavin and his Australian-born wife Rose. The brothers attended the Longreach Presentation Covenant School in Queensland. James went on to become a stock and station agent in his father's company, Gavin and Sons, while Gavin became a grazier and station overseer.

They were tall men, standing just over 6 feet, and both of slim build. James enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1916, about five months before his brother Gavin. Gavin's training in Australia seems to have been hurried so that he could leave with his brother, because less than one month after his enlistment he and James were sent to England with the 17th reinforcements to the 26th Battalion on HMAT Marathon.

James and Gavin arrived in France in May 1917. Soon their battalion was sent to Belgium to take part in fighting around Ypres and Passchendaele. On 4 October 1917, just weeks after James Gavin was promoted to Lance Corporal, the 26th Battalion fought in the battle of Broodseinde Ridge. This operation was ultimately successful and resulted in the capture of valuable German positions, but it cost the Australian divisions that took part 6,500 casualties. The Gavin brothers were two of them.

As the 26th Battalion had moved forward, ready for the signal to advance, they came under German shellfire. Lance Corporal James Gavin was killed by shell fragments
about twenty minutes before the battle began. Within a very short time, just after having gained the objective, his brother Private Gavin Gavin was shot in the head
and killed instantly.

The bodies of James and his brother Gavin were buried in the battlefield where they fell but were lost in the ongoing fighting. After the war their father tried to locate
their graves. He wrote to their company commander, who provided him with map references and marked aerial photographs, and eventually the bodies of the Gavin
brothers were exhumed. Gavin Gavin's remains were found first, and were reinterred in Tyne Cot Cemetery. James Gavin's remains were not found until 1921, and were reinterred in Ypres Reservoir North Cemetery.

John Gavin wanted his sons to be buried together. He wrote, "As my sons were never parted in life, left Australia together, [and] died together, I would request specially that one headstone be made to act for both." While it was ultimately not possible for them to share a headstone, Gavin Gavin's body was taken from Tyne Cot Cemetery and buried as close as possible to his brother James's in Ypres
Reservoir Cemetery. Their headstones, just a few spaces apart, both read:

Lovely in their Lives
In death undivided
To awake to Eternal Glory

James was 23 years old; Gavin was 25.

The names of both Gavin brothers are listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War, and their 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 Lance Corporal James Tinnock Bulkeley Gavin, Private Gavin Gordon Bulkeley Gavin, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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