The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (29341) Major Hugh Quinn, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Anzac Area (Gallipoli), Quinn's Post Area, Quinn's Post
Accession Number PAFU2015/118.01
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 18 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 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 (29341) Major Hugh Quinn, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

Major Hugh Quinn 15th Battalion, AIF
KIA 29 May 1915
Photograph: H17420

Story delivered 18 March 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Major Hugh Quinn.

Hugh Quinn was born on 6 May 1888 in Charters Towers Queensland to Irish immigrant and mounted police constable John Quinn and his wife, Mary Jane Irwin.

He attended Millchester State School in Charters Towers, and when the family moved south for two years he attended Dixon’s School at Southport. On his return to Charters Towers Quinn gained employment with the chartered accounting and auditing firm Cummins and Campbell. He also joined the Kennedy Regiment as a private, working his way up to quartermaster sergeant before being commissioned as a provisional second lieutenant in April 1908. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1911 and captain in July 1912.

Quinn, who was a keen boxer with a solid physique, also organised and managed a boxing team which toured Victoria and Tasmania. He was the light heavyweight champion of North Queensland for two years running.
In 1913 Quinn set up his own business as a commission agent in Townsville. He was working in this role when the First World War began in August 1914.

The Kennedy Regiment was mobilised and sent to garrison Thursday Island. The next week, Quinn was one of 500 volunteers to enlist in the 2nd Infantry, Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. The men sailed aboard the requisitioned liner Kanowna to Port Moresby, where they linked up with the rest of the ANMEF in early September.
As the force sailed to New Britain, the stokers aboard Kanowna mutinied and the ship was ordered to return to Australia.

After being demobilised, Quinn immediately applied for and was granted a commission in the Australian Imperial Force with the rank of captain. He was posted to the newly raised 15th Battalion, where he became the officer commanding C Company, and left for Egypt that December aboard the transport ship Ceramic.

C Company was not sent ashore on Gallipoli until the day after the landing. Over the next three days Quinn’s company was involved in skirmishes with Ottoman troops, and in digging a communication trench towards the head of Monash Valley.

Quinn and his men were ordered to hold the position at the head of the valley, soon to be named Quinn’s Post. On 1 May Ottoman troops began repeatedly attacking the Australian position. Quinn was promoted to major, and he and his men held on for over a week before finally being relieved.

What was once a series of rifle pits became an entrenched and fortified position, and the bombing duel between the Ottoman and Australian forces continued unabated. Ottoman mining efforts were detected and the Australians prepared for an attack.

At 3.20 am on 29 May Ottoman troops detonated a mine which destroyed part of Quinn’s Post, killing many of the Australian occupants. Ottoman troops quickly took advantage of the situation, and as they began infiltrating further into the Australian positions Quinn led a counter-attack which forced some of the enemy back.

Later Colonel Harry Chauvel ordered Quinn to launch an attack over open ground to re-take the lost post. Quinn argued that the position could be recaptured by infiltration, thereby avoiding heavy casualties. To this end he decided to do his own reconnaissance, and went forward
with another officer. Just as they reached a trench junction, Quinn was shot in the head and died instantly. He was 27 years old.

The planned charge went ahead and the post was retaken. Quinn’s body was recovered and he was laid to rest in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.

Quinn’s Post was the most contested position in the Anzac line, but it remained in Australian and New Zealand hands until the evacuation in December.

Following the end of the war, Quinn’s mother added the following epitaph to her son’s headstone:

Some time, some day I trust
to see the dear face
I hold to memory

Major Quinn’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 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 service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Major Hugh Quinn, and all Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

National Archives of Australia, service record, Major Hugh Quinn.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Hugh Quinn:

Alf Argent, “Quinn of Quinn’s Post”, Australian Army Journal 270, November 1971.

Lieutenant Thomas Percival Chataway, History of the 15th Battalion, Australian imperial Forces, war 1914–1918, W. Brooks, Queensland, 1948.

Peter Stanley, Quinn’s Post: Anzac, Gallipoli, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, New South Wales, 2005.

C.E.W. Bean, Official history of Australia in the war of 1914–1918, vol. 1, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1921–42.

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