The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1402) Private Frederick Hanson, 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery, First World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Bailleul
Accession Number PAFU2014/428.01
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 15 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 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (1402) Private Frederick Hanson, 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1402 Private Frederick Hanson, 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery
DOW 7 May 1916
Photograph supplied by family

Story delivered 15 November 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Frederick Hanson, who died of wounds in France in the First World War.

Frederick Hanson was born in 1886, and is thought to be the only son of Richard and Ellen Hanson of Macleay River in New South Wales. We do not know where he went to school, or much about his life in the years before the war, other than that he worked as a carter and porter in Sydney. We also know he was married to Mary Bell, and had four children – Ernest, Margaret, Ethel, and Phyllis.

Frederick enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Liverpool in May 1915 and underwent training at Holsworthy camp. He left Australia as an original member of the 18th Battalion in June 1915, and after a short period of training in Egypt took part in the fighting on Gallipoli.

Having been ashore for little more than a day, the 18th Battalion was committed to the last operation of the August Offensive and took part in the attack at Hill 60. Frederick survived unscathed, and spent the remainder of the campaign defending the Anzac positions at Courtney’s Post.

Frederick returned to Egypt for several months of training before being redeployed to the fighting on the Western Front. Coinciding with the move to France was the establishment of light trench mortar batteries, which the troops could call upon to fire on the enemy positions.

In April 1916, just as the battalion arrived in France, Frederick was transferred to the 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery, and was among the first Australian troops to take part in the fighting in the new theatre of operations.

When they arrived, the Australians filed into the trenches in the relatively quiet “nursery sector”, just outside the village of Armentières.

Here, the 5th Light Trench Mortar Battery was located in a small network of trenches known as the Bridoux Salient, where the mortars could fire on German troops barely 60 metres away. Being so close to the German trenches meant they were frequently susceptible to German mortars, as well as rifle, machine-gun, and devastating artillery fire.

On the morning of 3 May 1916 Frederick Hanson was mortally wounded in the chest by a piece of shrapnel while manning a forward position in the Bridoux Salient. He was evacuated to a casualty clearance station at Bailleul so he could be transferred to a hospital in England, but he succumbed to his wounds four days later.

He was buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery, where he rests today.

The historical records do not tell us how Frederick’s death affected the Hanson family; we can only imagine the devastating loss of a father and a husband. But life continued, and Frederick’s widow Mary remarried in 1918, moving with the children to Bathurst, New South Wales.

Frederick Hanson’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War. He appears, seated, in the photograph displayed today by the Pool of Reflection.

This is one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Frederick Hanson, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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