The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (993) Private Robert Keese Lambert, 3rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/088.01
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 16 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 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 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 Robyn Siers, the story for this day was on (993) Private Robert Keese Lambert, 3rd Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

993 Private Robert Keese Lambert, 3rd Battalion
KIA 4 October 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 16 October 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Robert Keese Lambert.

Robert Lambert was born on 3 November 1894 in Singleton, New South Wales. His father, Edward Keese Lambert, was an American from New Jersey who had come to Australia in 1877 and married Caroline Ann Cooper five years later. Robert was the second of their six children. He went to Kurri Kurri private school, and later went to work as a miner in the Stanford-Merthyr Colliery. He was an active sportsman, and was “very popular throughout the district of Kurri” where grew up.

Robert’s real passion, though, was for soldiering, and he was involved in cadets as a young man. When he was nine the boys in his corps had to purchase their own uniforms, and the young Lambert ran errands and did odd jobs for neighbours in order to earn enough money to buy his own outfit. He went on to serve with the local militia, and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force within weeks of the outbreak of the First World War.

Before Lambert left Australia, the town of Kurri Kurri held a meeting with hundreds in attendance. Lambert and two fellow volunteers were presented with medals from the Kurri Bicycle Club, of which they were members, and sent off with great ceremony. Lambert left Australia in October 1914 with the 3rd Battalion.

On 25 April 1915 the 3rd Battalion landed at ANZAC Cove in the early hours of the morning. Private Lambert later wrote: “We had to win, and we went at it heads down. The people at home have no cause to grumble at the way their sons and brothers fought. It was grand.” Three days later Lambert was hit in the face by a bullet, which broke his jaw and knocked out several teeth. He spent several months recovering in hospital. He rejoined his battalion on the Gallipoli peninsula in October, several weeks before the evacuation.

The 3rd Battalion’s next major operation came in France in 1916 as part of the 1st Australian’s Division capture of the village of Pozières. Lambert was again seriously wounded, reportedly while carrying a message for battalion commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Owen Howell Price. Once again, he was hospitalised for months.

After this second incident, Lambert’s parents were extremely concerned. His mother was hearing exaggerated reports of his condition from friends in England who visited Private Lambert; this, combined with his reluctance to write home, caused his mother great distress. She began to write to the Defence Department requesting for him to be invalided home. His father was so concerned for Caroline’s health that he, too, requested Robert’s return to Australia for furlough. He wrote, “I, his father, think the lad has earned a spell home and if granted, the visit may add some little time to his mother’s life.”

An investigation was conducted, but it was decided that the circumstances were not serious enough to grant the request. The official response to the Lamberts asked them to “bear this sacrifice cheerfully and with a strong hope that your son’s fulfilment of a stern duty will thereby assist in bringing about a victory over the enemy for which we are all so anxious”. However, even a positive decision would have come too late. During the attack on Polygon Wood, just after going over the top, Private Robert Keese Lambert was hit by a bullet and killed instantly. He was buried where he fell, but in the confusion of battle his grave was lost, and he now has no known resting place. He is now commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Robert was the last survivor of the Kurri Kurri contingent who enlisted with him, and was 23 years old when he died.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 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 Private Robert Keese Lambert, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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