The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4171) Private William Albert Moppett, 27th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/116.01
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 5 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
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (4171) Private William Albert Moppett, 27th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Speech transcript

4171 Private William Albert Moppett, 27th Battalion
KIA 5 November 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 5 November 2013

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Albert Moppett.

William Moppett, known as "Bert", was born in Port Pirie and was working in the smelting works there at the outbreak of war. He enlisted in November 1915, aged 18, and joined the 27th Battalion. He went via Egypt to France, where he landed in July 1916.

Almost immediately the 27th Battalion was drawn into the fighting around the French village of Pozières and nearby Mouquet Farm. The 27th Battalion suffered heavy casualties during these operations, which were conducted under some of the heaviest shellfire seen on the Western Front.

In the meantime his father, also William Albert Moppett, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, aged 42. He joined the 43rd Battalion and was sent to France, where he arrived in November 1916. However, he did not have a chance to see his son. Private Bert Moppett of the 27th Battalion, having survived the Pozières battles, was posted as missing from early November while making an attack on the village of Flers.

Mrs Moppett, waiting back in Port Pirie, received word that her son was missing. Shortly afterward she heard that her husband had been wounded but had resumed duty. She sought further information on both and soon found that her husband was suffering from shell shock and undergoing an extended period of treatment.

It took months to find out what had happened to her son. Eventually, reports began to come through that he had been killed in action. Although no direct report of the manner of his death was received, there was evidence that he had been killed as the result of artillery fire during a failed attack on German trenches on 5 November, and that in the confusion his fate was overlooked. If he was buried, his grave is now lost, and he is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux memorial with more than 10,000 other Australians with no known graves.

William Albert Moppett senior returned to active service following his experience of shell shock and survived the war. He returned to his wife in Port Pirie in early 1919. However, he struggled to return to civilian life and was regularly charged with public drunkenness in the decades after the war. The Moppett family never forgot the loss of their son and brother.

The name of Private William Albert Moppett 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 both Privates William Albert Moppett, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4171) Private William Albert Moppett, 27th Battalion (Infantry), First World War (video)