The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1878) Gunner Percy George Paget, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, First World War

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Combles Area, Guillemont
Accession Number PAFU2015/025.01
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 25 January 2015
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 (1878) Gunner Percy George Paget, 13th Field Artillery Brigade, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1878 Gunner Percy George Paget, 13th Field Artillery Brigade
DOW 18 February 1917
Photograph supplied by family

Story delivered 25 January 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Saddler Percy Paget, who died of his wounds in France during the First World War.

Born in 1886, Percy Paget was one of several children of James and Helena Paget of Kent Town in South Australia. Percy attended the local public school, but both his parents died while he was young, so he worked as a butcher at Henley Beach from the age of 14. He married Ethel Benson in 1915, and the couple had a son, Reginald.

Percy enlisted in the AIF at Keswick in July 1915, and trained at Mitcham Barracks. In January 1916 he left Australia with the 13th reinforcements to the 9th Light Horse Regiment to take part in the fighting on Gallipoli, but that campaign had ended by the time they arrived in Egypt. Instead of going to the Sinai with the 9th Light Horse Regiment Percy was transferred to the newly raised 13th Field Artillery Brigade, which was preparing to redeploy to the Western Front with the Australian 5th Division. Percy was attached to the brigade’s ammunition column, which was responsible for ensuring the 18-pound field guns and 4.5-inch howitzers were adequately supplied with shells.

Percy arrived on the Western Front in June 1916, and fought in the Armentières–Fleurbaix sector throughout the summer of 1916. He was temporarily transferred to two other artillery units within the 5th Division, but returned to the 13th Field Artillery Brigade in January 1917.

By then the fighting on the Somme had drawn to an end, and the 5th Division had been brought up to maintain the defences throughout the bitterly cold winter. Here, Percy maintained supplies of ammunition as the guns fired on the German trenches and in support of trench raids by the men of the 5th Division.

On 12 February 1917 the 13th Field Artillery Brigade was deployed near the village of Guillemont on what was a particularly hazy day. The historical records tell us that German artillery activity was relatively quiet on this day, although Percy was admitted to a nearby casualty clearance station suffering multiple wounds. He was evacuated to a hospital at Étaples, and received urgent surgical treatment, but he succumbed to his wounds four days later. Percy Paget was buried at the Étaples Military Cemetery, where he rests today.

Percy’s 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; Percy is third from the left.

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

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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