The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1959) Private William Henry Rodgers, 58th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/111.01
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 4 November 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 (1959) Private William Henry Rodgers, 58th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

1959 Private William Henry Rodgers, 58th Battalion
KIA 26 March 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 4 November 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Henry Rodgers of the Australian Army Medical Corps.

William Rodgers was born in Cobden, Victoria, the youngest son of Mr and Mrs George Rodgers. He was educated first at Ecklin State School and then at Box Hill College, where he proved a distinguished student. His father was a farmer, and William worked for some time on his father's property. As the only son left at home, he was practically his father's only help.

Nevertheless, William felt strongly that he should help in the war effort, particularly after Australia's withdrawal from Gallipoli. His father, too, felt that his son could be a vital link in the nation's strength and approved of his enlistment. William enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1916 at the age of 38, and left Australia shortly afterward with the 3rd reinforcements to the 58th Battalion.

Rodgers underwent a period of training in England before finally reaching France in December 1916. Apart from a short time in hospital with illness, he would not leave his battalion again. He wrote home to say that he "had been in some tight corners", and "received the attentions of a sniper whose aim, however, was about six feet out".

In March 1917 the battalion was in the line in France, sometimes acting as reserve to operations, at other times forming work and carrying parties or defending against counter-attacks. On the 26 March the 38th Battalion cooperated with a 2nd Division attack on Lagnicourt. The operation was successful and enabled the 2nd Division to enter the French town. The advance meant a flurry of activity in consolidating ground, resupplying the front line and reorganisation of the position, all conducted under machine-gun and shellfire.

During this process Private Rodgers was in a fatigue party when an artillery shell landed nearby. A fragment hit him in the head, and he was killed instantly. Rodgers was not buried immediately, and the exact coordinates of his grave when buried by the next battalion into the line were lost. He now has no known grave.

He is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, and his name is also 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 William Henry Rodgers, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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