The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4987) Private Ernest Clarence Boyd, 18th Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Butte de Warlencourt
Accession Number PAFU2014/330.01
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 2 September 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (4987) Private Ernest Clarence Boyd, 18th Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

Private Ernest Clarence Boyd, 18th Battalion
KIA 26 February 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 2 September 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Ernest Clarence Boyd.

Ernie Boyd was born at Wattamondara near Cowra, New South Wales. His father, Thomas, ran a local shop, and Ernie worked as a labourer in the district. Little else is known of Ernie Boyd until he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1916. He had joined the “Boomerangs” recruitment march, which began with 71 men in Parkes and travelled through the central west of New South Wales, collecting recruits as they went. When the march arrived in Bathurst they were 202 strong. On enlistment, Boyd was posted to the 18th Battalion and underwent a period of training in Australia before being sent overseas.

Private Boyd went to England for further training before being sent to France to join the rest of his battalion on the Western Front. He struggled with military discipline, and spent some time in hospital before finally joining his battalion in the field in December 1916. He was in the front-line trenches for some of the coldest winter weather France had seen for some years. As the weather began to ease, the battalion was drawn into more active operations.

On 26 February 1917 the 18th Battalion was ordered to attack a German trench near the Butte de Warlencourt. Private Boyd had been transferred to the machine-gun section of his company and joined them in the front line; he wrote home that he enjoyed the work. As a machine-gunner he formed part of the advanced party that preceded the attack.

Boyd’s friend Private Kinlock was one of the last people to speak to Ernie Boyd before he was killed. Just before Boyd left the trenches with the advanced party he went past Kinlock “with a smile on his face which was great to see”. They joked together and he left for no man’s land.

The attack of the 18th Battalion was conducted under very heavy rifle and machine-gun fire from the moment it began. Boyd was hit in the wrist as he crossed no man’s land and he was seen trying to take cover in a shell hole. As he moved towards it, he was hit again, this time in the stomach. Kinlock went out to him, but had no field dressing with him and could not bandage the wound. Before the stretcher-bearers could reach him, Boyd had died from his wounds.

Ernie Boyd had asked Kinlock to write home to his family. Kinlock wrote that “he died game with his face to the foe, and if it is ever my lot to meet the same fate I only
hope that I may die as game as he did. It was noble of him.” Private Boyd was buried in the field where he fell, but his grave was later lost and today he is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux memorial in France and here, where 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 Ernest Clarence Boyd, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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