The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6746) Private William George Miller Forsyth, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Daours
Accession Number PAFU2014/351.01
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 23 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
Description

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 (6746) Private William George Miller Forsyth, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6746 Private William George Miller Forsyth, 3rd Battalion, AIF
DOW 11 August 1918
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 23 September 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William George Miller Forsyth.

William Forsyth was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales, to Cuthbert and Hannah Forsyth in August 1886. He was the third of four boys born to the couple. Cuthburt Forsyth died suddenly in 1890, and after remarrying in 1893 William’s mother died in 1895, leaving the boys to be brought up by friends in Cootamundra.

William Forsyth was working as a sawyer in a mill at Cootamundra when the First World War began. He enlisted with the 22nd reinforcements to the 3rd Battalion in June 1916 and embarked from Sydney that November aboard the SS Port Nicholson, disembarking at Devonport, England, in early January 1917.

Forsyth was taken on strength of the 1st Training Battalion at Larkhill, where he underwent further training. It was here in late January that he went absent without leave for the night, handing himself in at 9 am the following day. After being court-martialled he was given a light sentence of one day’s Field Punishment No. 2 and the forfeiture of four days’ pay.

In April Forsyth was sent to France and spent several weeks at Étaples before being sent to Vaulx, where he joined the 3rd Battalion. The following day the battalion moved to Norieul then into the front-line trenches in front of Riencourt, recently captured during the second battle of Bullecourt.

Later in the year Forsyth took part in allied operations on the Somme before being evacuated with trench foot in November. He did not return to the 3rd Battalion until late January 1918.

Forsyth’s battalion was involved in stopping the Germans’ Spring Offensive, launched in late March, and later in the year took part in the allied offensive at Amiens. Early on the morning of 10 August the 3rd Battalion was involved in a general advance towards the town of Rozières. During that day Forsyth became separated from his unit. He was found near midnight, wandering but unharmed, by a 1st Battalion patrol rounding up straggling soldiers.

As the patrol headed toward the Australian positions a German shell exploded behind the men. A piece of shrapnel pierced Forsyth’s back and stomach. The patrol leader bandaged the wounds as best he could, and was struck by the fact that, despite knowing that “he was done”, Forsyth was conscious and even cheerful. Stretcher-bearers carried him to a nearby casualty clearing station, but he died in the early hours of 11 August and was buried in the Daours Communal Cemetery Extension.

Following the war, the Imperial War Graves Commission asked next-of-kin to add epitaphs to the graves of their fallen soldiers. Forsyth’s brother wrote:

FAR AWAY
FROM THE LAND OF THE WATTLE
HE LIES IN A HERO’S GRAVE

Forsyth’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War. There is no photograph in the Memorial’s collection to display 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 William George Miller Forsyth, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6746) Private William George Miller Forsyth, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War (video)