The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe, 6th Battalion (Infantry), First World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/001.01
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 1 January 2014
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 1 January 2014, 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 Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe, 6th Battalion (Infantry), First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe, 6th Battalion
KIA 25 April 1915
Photo: H05654

Story delivered 1 January 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe.

Born in Melbourne in 1890, Balfe, known as Rupert, was the youngest of three boys and a gifted student and athlete. He won a scholarship to attend University High School, where he was school captain and school athletics champion.

Balfe was studying medicine at the University of Melbourne when war broke out. Rupert was quick to enlist and joined the 6th Battalion, one of the first units raised, and became a second lieutenant in the 2nd Brigade. His father was the mayor of Brunswick at the time, and became involved in patriotic causes. His mother also later became president of Brunswick's chapter of the Red Cross Society to help provide for the needs of wounded soldiers.

Balfe left Australia for Egypt onboard the Hororato on 19 October 1914, and after several months training he went to Gallipoli, where he took part in the landing on 25 April 1915.

According to a report by one of his commanding officers, Balfe was killed instantly by a bursting shell just after reaching the beach at ANZAC Cove. However, these details were not immediately known and back in Melbourne his parents were informed that he was wounded and missing. They finally learned of his death in a telegram two months later. He was 25 years old.

While at university, Balfe had made friends with a young law student named Robert Menzies, later to become Prime Minister of Australia. Menzies wrote a poem in tribute to Balfe which appeared in the Brunswick and Coburg leader newspaper on 16 July1915. It read, in part:
His was the call that came from far away;
An Empire's message flashing o'er the seas
The call to arms! The blood of chivalry
Pulsed quicker in his veins; he could not stay.

The name of Lieutenant Rupert Balfe is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War. His 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 Lieutenant Joseph Rupert Balfe, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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