The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3501) Private Cyril Harvey Kelly, 16 Battalion, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/036.01
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 February 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 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 (3501) Private Cyril Harvey Kelly, 16 Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

3501 Private Cyril Harvey Kelly, 16th Battalion
KIA 5 February 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 5 February 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Cyril Harvey Kelly.

Cyril Kelly was the son of Maxwell and Rosetta Kelly, born in Bunbury, Western Australia, on 28 January 1897. When Cyril was two years old his father drowned in a sailing accident, and he, his sister and his two brothers were raised by his mother. Following his schooling, Cyril became a clerk on the railways as well as continuing to help on the family farm.

Cyril enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 29 July 1917 and, after a period of training in Australia, was sent to Egypt where he joined the 16th Battalion. More training followed, after which he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front. The 16th Battalion saw heavy fighting at Mouquet Farm in August 1916, but although his battalion suffered heavy casualties, Private Kelly emerged unscathed.

The winter of 1916-17 was one of Europe's harshest on record. Kelly wrote home in November of the conditions: "It is getting cold here now ... cold and wet and mud - in some places up to your waist. It is awful and 48 hours is about as long as they can keep you in the front line." A month later he wrote home again: "The ground crunches with the ice under your feet and a bit of snow fell today ... have been cold for about two months."

The winter was spent rotating in and out of the front line, training, and providing working and carrying parties. In early February 1917, still experiencing severe frosts and frozen ground, the 16th Battalion re-entered the front line around the French village of Flers for a seven-day period. On 5 February Kelly's company was on the right of the line, and came under heavy artillery fire. During this bombardment Private Cyril Kelly and a number of other men in his gun crew were killed by a single shell. It was not recorded whether or not he was afforded a burial where he fell: if so, his grave was later lost and he now has no known grave. Cyril Kelly had just turned 20.

Cyril's mother Rosetta painted a collection of over 300 watercolours of Western Australian wildflowers which was later donated to the City of Bunbury Art Collection as a tribute to her lost son.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War. There is no photograph of Cyril in the Memorial's collection.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Cyril Harvey Kelly, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3501) Private Cyril Harvey Kelly, 16 Battalion, First World War (video)