The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3537) Private Leslie James Bugg, 53rd Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Fromelles
Accession Number PAFU2014/252.01
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 30 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

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 Berelle, the story for this day was on (3537) Private Leslie James Bugg, 53rd Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

3537 Private Leslie James Bugg, 53rd Battalion
KIA 19 July 1916
Photograph: P08624.325

Story delivered 30 July 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Leslie James Bugg, whose photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.

Les Bugg was the son of Joseph Bugg, a railway worker, and his wife, Isabella. Born in Goulburn, New South Wales, Les attended the local public school before his family moved to Parramatta. After leaving school, Les served a five-year apprenticeship in Sydney to become a plumber.

On 6 August 1915 Les Bugg enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He went to the recruitment office with his best mate, Les Raward. The two had been school mates for many years and reportedly “grew up best chums”. Before they left, Raward said to Les Bugg’s father, “We have been school-mates together, have grown up together, and if need be we will die together!”

Les Bugg and Les Raward were both posted to the 3rd Battalion and sent to Egypt, where they transferred to the 53rd Battalion together. After a period of training in the desert, the two were sent with their battalion to France.

On 19 July 1916 the 53rd Battalion participated in its first set-piece battle on the Western Front near the French village of Fromelles. The operation was a disaster and the 5th Australian Division, of which the 53rd Battalion was a part, suffered over 5,500 casualties. On that day Les Raward was shot through the thigh, and shortly afterwards died of his wounds. After the battle, Private Les Bugg could not be found.

In Australia, Les Bugg’s parents heard that their son had been wounded, but could not get into contact with him. More than six months later, Bugg’s status was changed from “wounded” to “wounded and missing”. The man in charge of Bugg’s section reported that he had been severely wounded on the first morning that the 53rd Battalion entered the trenches, some days prior to the Fromelles attack. He was apparently taken to a dressing station, but what happened after that could not be determined.

Bugg’s parents did their utmost to trace their missing son. In March 1917 his father, Joseph Bugg, enlisted in the AIF and went to the front in an endeavour to trace Leslie’s fate. Although he was 49 and officially too old for active service, Joseph Bugg was accepted as a blacksmith and posted to the railway section. He arrived in France in September 1917 and served for over eight months before being repatriated to Australia, having been unable to discover anything further regarding his son’s fate.

The same month that Joseph arrived in France a court of inquiry was held to determine the fates of many who had gone missing during the battle of Fromelles. It returned the verdict that Leslie James Bugg had been killed in action on 19 July 1916. His body was never recovered, and the exact manner of death remains unknown.

Les Bugg was 24 years old.

His 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 Private Leslie James Bugg, his best mate, Private Leslie Harold Raward, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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