The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (372) Trooper William Blake, 10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, First World War

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Anzac Area (Gallipoli), Nek (Gallipoli)
Accession Number PAFU2014/486.01
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 27 December 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (372) Trooper William Blake, 10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

372 Trooper William Blake, 10th Light Horse Regiment, AIF
KIA 7 August 1915
Photograph: H05447

Story delivered 27 December 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Trooper William Blake, who died during the First World War.

William Blake was born in 1891 in Collingwood, Melbourne, the second son of George and Maria Blake. He attended the local State School in Preston, but the Blake family later moved to Western Australia. At 23 William was working as a draper when he enlisted in the 10th Light Horse Regiment in October 1914, just a few months after the outbreak of war.

William left Fremantle with his regiment in February 1915 aboard HMAT Surada. After arriving in Egypt, the regiment went into a training camp at Heliopolis. In May Blake’s unit embarked for Gallipoli, where, like other light horsemen on the peninsula, they served dismounted.

Since the April landings the Gallipoli campaign had descended into stalemate. To regain the initiative, allied forces launched a major offensive designed to take control of the high ground to the north and inland of Anzac Cove. It was believed that this would allow allied troops to move across the peninsula, cutting the Turkish forces in half. A series of feints were organised to distract and divert the Turkish troops from the main attack. The charge at The Nek – the narrow bridge of land that stretched between Russell’s Top and Baby 700 across Monash Valley – was one such planned distraction.

William was one of 600 Australians to fight at The Nek in August 1915. Early in the morning of 7 August, four waves of troops from the 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments were ordered to leave their trenches and charge across the Nek to overrun the Turkish positions on the slopes of Baby 700. The attack was a disaster. The artillery bombardment designed to clear the way for the light horsemen’s charge stopped early, and the heavily defended Turkish troops had the higher ground.

The Australians suffered heavy losses as they made their attack, and 234 men – including William Blake – were killed. Official historian Charles Bean later wrote that “the flower of the youth of Western Australia” was lost at The Nek.

Sadly, Maria Blake would lose both her sons to the war. William’s older brother, George, who enlisted after William’s death, was killed in action at Passchendaele in 1917.

William Blake was buried in the Shrapnel Valley Cemetery on Gallipoli.

This cemetery and its associated memorial commemorate the 683 Commonwealth servicemen who died in the vicinity, including those with no known graves.

Blake’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 other Australians who died fighting in the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

Dr Kate Ariotti
Historian, Military History Section

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