|Place||Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli|
|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||28 March 2015|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Major John William Hamilton, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War
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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on Major John William Hamilton, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
Major John William Hamilton, 6th Battalion, AIF
KIA 25 April 1915
No photograph in collection
Story delivered 28 March 2015
Today we remember and pay tribute to Major John William Hamilton, who died during the First World War.
John Hamilton was born in 1870 in Waterford, Ireland, and attended Queen’s College in Cork. He immigrated to Australia in 1891 and took up a position in the Queensland Public Service. Later he moved to Victoria and married Una Bland in 1911. Their daughter, Aline, was born the year after. John had many years’ experience in the Commonwealth military forces in both Queensland and Victoria and was described as “keen and enthusiastic in all things military”. This may have influenced his decision to enlist in the AIF in August 1914, just ten days after the declaration of war.
Aged 44, John was appointed as captain in the 6th Battalion. He left Melbourne on board HMAT Hororata in October 1914 and arrived in Egypt in early December. There the 6th Battalion underwent intensive training, with musketry practice, route marches, and other drills becoming commonplace at the large Australian camp at Mena. In January 1915 John was promoted to major.
In March Australian troops were sent from Egypt to the Dardanelles to take part in a series of landings on the Gallipoli peninsula, part of the allied attempt to force the Ottoman Empire out of the war. Troops of the 2nd Brigade, including the 6th Battalion, were among the first to land in the early hours of the morning of 25 April 1915.
At some point on this first day John was killed. The exact particulars of his death are not known, but the 2nd Brigade war diary states that Turkish shrapnel fire caused many casualties before the troops had even left their boats, and many officers were killed or wounded as the enemy counter-attacked. John was simply listed as having been “killed in action” and his family were informed that he had died on that first day.
Although it is stated in John’s records that he was buried on Gallipoli, his grave was not found after the war. Today he is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial at Anzac, along with more than 4,900 Australian and New Zealander servicemen who died in the vicinity and whose graves are also unknown.
John Hamilton’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 Major John William Hamilton and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.
Dr Kate Ariotti
Historian, Military History Section
2nd Infantry Brigade War Diary, April and June 1915, appendices: AWM4 23/2/4.
National Archives of Australia, J.W. Hamilton, service record, application for a commission.
“The Roll of Honour,” Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative, 7 May 1915, p. 3.
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Major John William Hamilton, 6th Battalion, AIF, First World War (video)