The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Major Julius August William Kayser, 12th Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Gueudecourt
Accession Number PAFU2014/383.01
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 4 October 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on Major Julius August William Kayser, 12th Battalion, First World War.

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Speech transcript

Major Julius August William Kayser, 12th Battalion
KIA 16 February 1917
Photograph: H00012

Story delivered 4 October 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Major Julius August William Kayser of the 12th Battalion, who was killed in France in 1917.

Julius Kayser was born in Lyndoch, South Australia, in 1877. He was the third youngest of ten children to Johan and Cacille Kayser, who had emigrated from Hannover in Germany in the 1850s. The family lived in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, with many other German migrant families. Like his father, Julius Kayser became a school teacher at the Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, and was the commanding officer of the C Company, 76th Infantry Regiment, Citizen Military Forces in the years before the First World War. He married Helen Hopewell in 1904, and the couple had three children: Edward, Ella, and Gordon.

Julius Kayser was among the first Australians to enlist in the AIF in August 1914. As an experienced soldier with the 76th Regiment, he was appointed lieutenant and left Australia for Egypt with the 12th Battalion in September. He was among the first wave of troops to land on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front-line positions at Anzac in the region of Russell’s Top, during which time he was promoted to captain.

The fighting took its toll, however, and after a costly, if unsuccessful, Turkish counter-attack in May, Captain Kayser was evacuated to Malta with a bout of dysentery and suffering a nervous breakdown. He was sent to hospital in London; where he was found to be unfit for general service. He returned home and spent the next six months with his family in Australia.

By mid-1916 Kayser had evidently sufficiently recovered, because in June he returned to the 12th Battalion, then fighting in France. The battalion attacked the village of Pozières, and on 23 July Captain Kayser was severely wounded in the leg, resulting in his evacuation to England. Kayser spent the remainder of the year in England, returning to the front in January 1917. Now promoted to major, he again reunited with the 12th Battalion in the relatively quiet sector at Glencourt Abbey, near Gueudecourt.

On 16 February 1917 German troops bombarded the Australian positions occupied by the 12th Battalion with trench mortar fire. One of the mortars landed on a dug-out and ignited a stack of star shells. Five men were killed in the blast, including Major Kayser, who was buried with full military honours in a makeshift cemetery behind the 12th
Battalion headquarters. Aged 37 at the time of his death, today he rests in the Warlencourt British Cemetery on the road to Bapaume.

Major Kayser was affectionately known by his men as “Monk”, and according to his Quartermaster Sergeant was “worshipped by the men of his battalion, both as a soldier and for his sterling qualities as a man”.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on your left, along with 60,000 others from the First World War. 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 Major Julius August Kayser, 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 Major Julius August William Kayser, 12th Battalion, First World War (video)