The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (113) Corporal Robert Willie Nenke, 1st Division Signals, AIF, First World War

Place Europe: France
Accession Number PAFU2014/418.01
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 5 November 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 (113) Corporal Robert Willie Nenke, 1st Division Signals, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

113 Corporal Robert Willie Nenke, 1st Division Signals, AIF
DOW 8 August 1918
Photograph: P07670.001

Story delivered 5 November 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Robert Willie Nenke.

Robert Nenke was the son of Mr and Mrs Robert Nenke of the Barossa Valley in South Australia. He was born and raised in Nuriootpa, where he attended the local public school. Nenke served in the local militia, rising to the rank of lieutenant in the signals division. After school he was employed for a time at a solicitor’s office, and then went on to work for Harris Scarfe in Gawler Place, Adelaide.

Nenke enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war. Given his experience in the local militia, he was quickly posted to the 1st Division Signals Company. Nenke served at Gallipoli, although he spent part of the campaign in hospital in Alexandria. In March 1916 he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front. Shortly before he left he was promoted to corporal.

Nenke was wounded a number of times on the Western Front. In September 1916 he was admitted to a Red Cross station with wounds to his cheek and shoulder. He was sent to England and spent the early part of 1917 seconded to a training depot in England following his recovery. That August he was shot in the right foot and was again sent to England, where he spent some months recovering, returning to his unit in France in April 1918.

On 7 August 1918, almost four years after he first enlisted, he was seriously wounded by an artillery shell, taking most of the blast in his arm and side. He was quickly transferred to a casualty clearing station, where he died shortly afterwards.

Robert Nenke’s mother wrote to the army to finalise her son’s affairs: “I would so much like to know if my son left any last message to me, perhaps to a nurse or chaplain in the field hospital.”

It is unlikely that Robert Nenke was conscious for long enough to leave such a message – certainly there is no record that one existed. Four of Mrs Nenke’s sons served in the war. Her only son to die, Robert Nenke, was buried at Crouy British Cemetery near Amiens in France. He was 24.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 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 Corporal Robert Willie Nenke, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

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