The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1148) Private Richard Alfred “Alf” Meech 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Anzac Area (Gallipoli), Lone Pine Area, Lone Pine
Accession Number PAFU2015/155.01
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 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
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1148) Private Richard Alfred “Alf” Meech 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1148 Private Richard Alfred “Alf” Meech 3rd Battalion, AIF
KIA 6–12 August 1915
Photograph: P01061.001 (middle, 4th row)

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Richard Alfred Meech.

Richard Alfred “Alf” Meech was born on 11 June 1887 in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, to Isaac and Rosanna Meech. Rosanna was part of the Blundell family, with a home on Blundell’s Hill, now known as Regatta Point here in Canberra, and the smaller home, Blundell’s Cottage, which still stands today on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Meech grew up in Queanbeyan and attended school locally. He worked for a time at the Queanbeyan Age. When the First World War began Meech, who was working as a carter, was reported to have been the first man in Queanbeyan to enlist, joining on 20 August 1914. He was posted to 1 Platoon, A Company, 3rd Battalion, AIF.

Meech embarked for Egypt with the 3rd Battalion aboard the transport ship Euripides in October 1914. Arriving in December, he spent several months training in the desert. In early April 1915 he sailed with his battalion to Lemnos in preparation for the Gallipoli campaign.

Meech landed at Gallipoli with the 3rd Battalion between 7 and 8 am on the morning of 25 April. He survived the chaotic first weeks of the campaign and assisted in holding the Australian positions against Turkish counter-attacks. Aside from being a rifleman, Meech was also batman to his platoon commander, Lieutenant William Carter.

With Gallipoli quickly becoming a stalemate, an offensive was planned for August to attempt a breakout from the Anzac beachhead. In the evening of 6 August the 3rd Battalion was in the first wave over the top to attack Lone Pine.

The Australians were forced in places to run over the Turkish trenches, which had been roofed with logs, and fight their way into the stygian darkness of the Turkish front line. Over three days of constant fighting, Lone Pine became a veritable tomb.

After the battle Meech was listed as wounded and missing. This gave his family some hope that he might be alive. It was not until June 1916 that a court of inquiry found Meech to have been killed between 6 and 12 August 1915.

An eyewitness report stated that around 9 pm on 7 August Meech, who was manning a trench at Lone Pine, was hit by Turkish bomb fragments. He was seen to fall into the trench and was attended to, but was unable to be evacuated until morning. The witness went on to say that Meech, barely breathing, was carried from the trench at daybreak and was thought to have died soon after. He was 28 years old.

Meech’s body was never identified. Today his name is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial.

Meech’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War. The photograph displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection is a collection of portraits of Queanbeyan men who enlisted in the First World War. Meech’s portrait is in the centre of the fourth row.

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

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

Sources:
www.ancestry.com

www.trove.nla.gov.au

Australian War Memorial collection, Richard Alfred Meech.

National Archives of Australia, service record, Richard Alfred Meech.

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