The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (57) Private Jack McNeill, 20th Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Armentieres
Accession Number PAFU2014/233.01
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 11 July 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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (57) Private Jack McNeill, 20th Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

57 Private Jack McNeill, 20th Battalion
KIA 5 May 1916
Photograph: P09924.001

Story delivered 11 July 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Jack McNeill, who was killed in action fighting in France in 1916.

Jack McNeill was a coal miner from Lithgow in New South Wales when he enlisted in the AIF at Liverpool Camp in Sydney in May 1915. He left Australia for Egypt with the 20th Battalion after a few weeks’ training, and landed on Gallipoli in August. There the battalion played a key role in the defence of the feature known as Russell’s Top on the second ridge. Despite the chronic disease and harsh climate that characterised the latter months of the campaign, McNeill remained with his battalion until it was withdrawn from the peninsula in December 1915.

The following months were spent training in the hot sands of Egypt. In March 1916, the 20th was among the first of the Australian battalions to be sent to France to take part in the fighting on the Western Front.

The 20th Battalion was the first Australian unit to come face-to-face with the Germans on the front. On the night of 5 May 1916, German troops conducted a trench raid on the Australian positions in the Bridoux Salient outside the town of Armentières. They shelled the Australian trenches for hours before assaulting the position. Australian casualties were heavy, with 23 men of the 20th Battalion killed in the attack, 72 wounded, and 13 missing in action. One of those killed was Jack McNeill, who was hit by shell fragments after carrying a wounded man to a nearby dressing station. Just 21 years old when he died, he was buried at Brewery Orchard Cemetery at Bois Grenier where he rests today.

Jack McNeill is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 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 Private Jack McNeill, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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