The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Major Leslie Jack Coulter, 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/069.01
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 10 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

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 Nicholas Schmidt, the story for this day was on Major Leslie Jack Coulter, 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company, First World War.

Speech transcript

Major Leslie Jack Coulter, 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company
KIA 28 June 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 10 October 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Major Leslie Jack Coulter.

Leslie Coulter worked as a mining engineer in the years before the outbreak of the First World War. He had studied at the Ballarat College and the School of Mines, and had extensive practical experience of mining in Bendigo and, later, Tasmania. When he enlisted in the AIF in December 1915, the obvious place for him was in the 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company, which he was given command of in 1916.

Leslie Jack Coulter excelled at this work. In 1916 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his service during the battle of Fromelles. The 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company was employed in creating communication trenches for the infantry by pushing pipes through the earth and then exploding them, which would leave a long, straight ditch that formed the perfect basis for a new trench. During one operation, the fuse to one of these pipes was cut by German shell fire before it could explode. Coulter ran out under heavy fire and relit the fuse further down. He received serious gunshot wounds to his back and arms in doing so, but refused to be taken back to the aid post until he had seen the pipe successfully explode, and could be satisfied that this secret technology could not fall into the hands of the Germans.

Coulter's gallantry and fearless behaviour in the field saw him Mentioned in Despatches twice more in his military career. He had no illusions when it came to the risk of the Western Front and was described as "utterly careless of danger".

In June 1917 the 3rd Australian Tunnelling Company was attached to the British 46th Division, operating around Lens in northern France to destroy three known German mine shafts in newly-captured ground. Major Coulter, having arrived back from leave only hours before the start of the raid, went forward with the infantry.

As they were leaving, Coulter looked over the parapet and said, "Well boys, let's have a shot at Fritz." Almost immediately he was shot in the mouth by a sniper and "fell dead without uttering a word". His funeral was attended by the entire company, such was his popularity. He was 26.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Major Leslie Jack Coulter and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.