The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (514) Private John William Woods, 14th Battalion, First World War

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Accession Number PAFU2015/115.01
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 March 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 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 Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (514) Private John William Woods, 14th Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

514 Private John William Woods, 14th Battalion
KIA 6 May 1915
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 15 March 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private John William Woods, who died during the First World War.

John Woods was born in 1891 in Melbourne, the only son of parents John and Agnes, and elder brother to Ivy. He attended Essendon State School, and was apprenticed for several years to the Melbourne printing firm of Mason, Firth and McCutcheon. John was working as a compositor for the same company when he enlisted in the AIF in September 1914, just over a month after the declaration of war.

John was assigned to the 14th Battalion and left Melbourne on HMAT Ulysses in December 1914. In mid-April, after months of training in Egypt, John’s battalion was sent to Lemnos in preparation for the allied attack on Gallipoli. After a few days at sea the troopships were anchored in Lemnos harbour and the men began training for the landing by undertaking physical drill, marching parades, and climbing up and down rope ladders into smaller boats. On 24 April the troops were issued with rations and were told of the impending attack. Sections of John’s battalion landed on the peninsula in the evening of 25 April, but the majority arrived on Gallipoli the following day.

As part of the 4th Brigade, troops of the 14th Battalion pushed inland to take up strategic positions at locations later known as Quinn’s, Courtney’s and Steel’s Posts. The men were kept busy digging, improving a network of trenches and defending their precarious positions.

According to the 14th Battalion war diary, 6 May was a quiet day at Courtney’s Post, but there was “a considerable amount of enemy shrapnel about”. Three Other Ranks had been wounded, and one killed.

This last was John Woods, killed by shrapnel in the trenches at Courtney’s Post. The exact particulars of his death are unknown, but it was recorded on his service record that he was buried by battalion chaplain Reverend Andrew Gillison on the day he died. He was 23 years old.

John’s original grave could not be found after the war. Instead, a headstone was erected in Courtney’s and Steel’s Post Cemetery on the peninsula.

John Woods’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour to my right, along with the names of more than 60,000 other Australians who died fighting in the First World War.

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

Dr Kate Ariotti
Historian, Military History Section

Sources:
14th Battalion War Diary for April 1915: AWM4 23/31/7.

14th Battalion War Diary for May 1915: AWM4 23/31/8.

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour circular for Private John William Woods.

National Archives of Australia, J.W. Woods, service record.

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