The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2616) Lance Corporal Edward Higgins, 51st Battalion, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/051.01
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 20 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 Craig Blanch, the story for this day was on (2616) Lance Corporal Edward Higgins, 51st Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2616 Lance Corporal Edward Higgins, 51st Battalion
KIA 25 April 1918
Photograph: P10550.052

Story delivered 20 February 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Edward Higgins.

Edward Higgins was born in Pingelly, Western Australia, around 1893. Little is known of his early life until he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915, three days after his younger brother John. The two brothers were posted to different reinforcements to the 11th Battalion, but in Egypt on 1 March 1916 they were both transferred to the 51st Battalion, and shortly afterwards left for France.

The 51st Battalion moved into the trenches of the Western Front within a fortnight of its arrival. John was badly wounded in the hand in July and was sent to England, but Edward was with the battalion through the costly fighting at Mouquet Farm in mid-1916. On the final day of the battle Edward Higgins was also wounded and evacuated to England.

On several occasions while working behind the lines during the winter the 51st Battalion was camped in the French town of Vignacourt. During one of these periods Edward and one of his mates visited the makeshift photographic studio of Louis and Antoinette Thuillier and had their photo taken. It is this image that is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection. Edward is on the left. His friend has not yet been identified.

In April 1917 Edward Higgins was shot in the arm during the 51st Battalion's attack on the French village of Noreuil. On the day he left hospital to return to France, his brother was killed in action at Messines. John Murray Higgins's grave, if he ever had one, was lost, and he is now commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres.

Edward continued on with the 51st Battalion and was promoted to lance corporal in August 1917. He was sick over Christmas and spent just over two months in hospital, rejoining his battalion just before the Germans launched their great Spring Offensive of 1918. The 51st helped stave off a heavy German attack in early April near the French village of Dernancourt and were then moved near Villers-Bretonneux. There, through the night of 24 April and into the following day, the 51st Battalion fought to recapture the town taken by the Germans.

It was during the fighting in the early hours of 25 April that Edward Higgins was killed. Little is known of the manner of his death. Like his brother, any grave he might have had has been lost. He is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial to the missing.

Edward's name 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 Lance Corporal Edward Higgins, his brother Private John Murray Higgins, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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