The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (26326A) Sergeant William Henry Dudley, 7th Battalion, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2013/183.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 18 June 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. The story for this day was on (26326A) Sergeant William Henry Dudley, 7th Battalion, First World War.

Note: There is no recording for this event

Speech transcript

2636A Sergeant William Henry Dudley, 7th Battalion
KIA 22 April 1917
Photograph: DA08474

Story delivered 18 June 2013

Today, we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant William Henry Dudley.

William Dudley was born in Tallygaroopna, near Shepparton in Victoria, and was working as a farm labourer when war broke out in 1914. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private in July 1915 and underwent a period of training in Australia before being sent away to war.

Dudley first went to Alexandria in Egypt, and from there was posted to the 7th Battalion sent to France to fight on the Western Front. From this point, he never left his battalion again.

In early 1917 the German army made a tactical withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. This was a heavily fortified series of trenches which offered excellent protection to German troops.

The men of the 7th Battalion followed up the German withdrawal and, in late April 1917, found themselves before the heavily fortified village of Bullecourt. Because much of the ground was new to the battalion, many patrols were sent out to try to find out the strength and location of the German defences. Sergeant Dudley was a member of one such patrol. On 22 April 1917 his patrol came under heavy fire. When they returned to their own trenches, they discovered that Dudley and their officer were missing. The officer was wounded and found crawling back. As he was being rescued, Sergeant Dudley's body was spotted yards from the German trench. However, German machine gun fire prevented the retrieval of his body, and it is likely that he was buried by the Germans, whose trench he very nearly reached.

Dudley's friend, Private Proud, wrote to William Dudley's parents to tell them about his death and about how much Dudley was missed. He wrote that he was:

...a fine, brave fellow, well-liked by everybody ... a good, clean-living fellow and a thorough gentleman ... You would never hear him swear ... and he never had a bad word for anyone ... It was a great shock to me to leave him behind.

William Dudley's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War, and 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 Sergeant William Henry Dudley, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.