The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3114A) Private William Jeffrey, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Armentieres
Accession Number PAFU2015/153.01
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 13 April 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

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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (3114A) Private William Jeffrey, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3114A Private William Jeffrey, 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 April 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 13 April 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Jeffrey.

William Jeffrey was born in 1879 to Robert and Mary Jeffrey at Bannockburn in Stirlingshire, Scotland. The family immigrated to Queensland when William was five and settled in Toowoomba. Here he attended the Harleston and East State Schools before leaving to take up an apprenticeship as a boot maker.

Towards the end of the Boer War Jeffrey joined the 5th Queensland Imperial Bushmen Contingent and sailed for South Africa at the beginning of March 1901 and arriving at Cape Town at the end of the month.

He saw his first action only weeks later at Naauwpoort and over the following 12 months covered a lot of ground with his unit, seeing action at places like Mokari Drift, Caledon River, and Modder River. He returned to Australia at the end of April 1902 and, with his service time expired, returned home in early May.

Jeffrey was married with two sons and was working as labourer for Queensland railways when the First World War began.

He joined the AIF at Toowoomba on 9 October 1915 when the “Dungarees Recruiting March” came into town. When the march ended in Brisbane Jeffrey was allocated to the 7th reinforcements for the 25th Battalion.

He embarked with his unit from Brisbane aboard the transport ship Itonus in December. After disembarking in Egypt in January, William began several months of training in the desert sands. The next month he was transferred to the 9th Battalion, which sailed for France at the end of March 1916.

By mid-April, the 9th Battalion was in reserve billets near Rouge-de-Bout, one mile behind the front line in the Armentières sector. Intermittent artillery fire was landing nearby.

Early in the afternoon of 20 April, tragedy struck when the battalion’s C Company billets were heavily shelled. One shell landed outside a canvas tent, wounding four soldiers. As men went to assist, another shell landed among them, killing several and wounding others. A further shell hit a brick wall of a nearby billet, causing a further 47 casualties. C Company was decimated, suffering 50 men wounded and 25 killed, one of whom was Jeffrey. Several other men would die from their wounds over the ensuing days.

Later that day Jeffrey and the other fallen men of C Company were laid to rest in the Rue-du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard at Laventie. He was 37 years old.
Jeffrey’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from 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 William Jeffrey, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3114A) Private William Jeffrey, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War (video)