The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1138) Able Seaman John William “Jack” Jarman, HMAS AE1 , First World War

Accession Number PAFU2014/342.01
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 14 September 2014
Access Open
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 Andrew Smith, the story for this day commemorates (1138) Able Seaman John William “Jack” Jarman, HMAS AE1 , First World War.

Speech transcript

1138 Able Seaman John William “Jack” Jarman, HMAS AE1
KIA 14 September 1914
Photograph: P09222.001

Story delivered 14 September 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Able Seaman John William “Jack” Jarman, whose photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.

Jack Jarman was born on 11 June 1893 in Cashel, near Dookie, Victoria, to William Jarman and Elizabeth Jarman (nee Bennett). His sister, Catherine, was born the following year and a brother, Fred, followed in 1899.

William died suddenly in 1903, leaving Elizabeth to bring up three young children. She moved into the inner suburbs of Melbourne, where she met Patrick McGrath. They were married in in 1909.

Little is known about Jack’s early life, but in May 1911, just short of his 18th birthday, he joined the newly formed Royal Australian Navy. Initially based at the Navy Depot at Williamstown, after a brief period of training he was posted with the rank of ordinary seaman to HMAS Parramatta. His good character and ability saw him promoted to able seaman a few weeks later.

His service file shows that he deserted in November that year and was “recovered” in October 1912. What punishment he received, if any, is not recorded, but he spent until the end of January 1913 at HMAS Cerberus, the RAN’s training base.

In February Jack was selected as one of the crewmen sailing Australia’s newly acquired E Class submarines, the AE1 and AE2, from England to Australia. With a mix of Australian and British crews, they sailed from Portsmouth in March 1914. The journey was arduous and fraught with mechanical problems. At times the operating temperature inside the submarine would reach 38 degrees and the air would become toxic, polluted by gases from the engine room.

In May 1914 the submarines reached Sydney, where they were met with intense curiosity from the public, not least because they were considered “top secret weapons”.

Initially assigned to the AE2, Jack was later transferred to the AE1. The life of a submariner seemed to suit him; his character was assessed as “very good” and his ability rated superior. In July he wrote to the Naval Board seeking permission to buy himself out of the navy at a cost of 10 pounds. His mother had become too ill to work and his step-father had suffered a stroke; his meagre pension was not enough for them to get by on. However, the outbreak of the First World War in early August halted any possibility of discharge.

The AE1 and AE2 were assigned to the RAN component of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, providing forward protection to the fleet as it made its
way to New Britain. Following the successful capture of the radio station at Bitapaka and the surrender of Rabaul, the AE1 “left Rabaul harbour to patrol Cape Gazelle
and never returned”. Despite searches of the area no trace of the submarine was ever found, “not even the tell-tale shimmer of escaping oil in the water”. The cause of its
disappearance is unknown, but three officers and 32 sailors, including Jarman, were believed to have drowned.

Jack Jarman was 21.

Today he is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in the UK, and 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 Able Seaman Jack Jarman, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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