The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2046) Private Douglas Beattie Murphy, 4th Pioneer Battalion, AIF, First World War

Accession Number PAFU2015/192.01
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 16 May 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (2046) Private Douglas Beattie Murphy, 4th Pioneer Battalion, AIF, World War.

Speech transcript

2046 Private Douglas Beattie Murphy, 4th Pioneer Battalion, AIF
DOW 25 June 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 16 May 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Douglas Murphy, who died while fighting during the First World War.

Douglas Beattie Murphy was born in 1880, one of six children of Frederick and Margaret Murphy of Wilton, Scotland. After state schooling in the county of Roxburgh, Murphy enlisted in the British Army and served as a dispatch rider in South Africa with the South African Constabulary in 1901 and 1902. After completing his term of service, Douglas immigrated in 1907 to Australia, where he worked as a labourer in Brighton, South Australia. He married Clara Schulz in August 1915, and adopted her two children, Christian and Iris.

Douglas enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Adelaide in August 1915, and after a period of training at Mitcham Camp embarked for Egypt with a reinforcement group for the 3rd Light Horse Regiment in February 1916. Douglas arrived in Egypt far too late to participate in the Gallipoli campaign, but was transferred to the 4th Pioneer Battalion as the Australians prepared to deploy to the Western Front. Arriving in France in June 1916, he proceeded immediately with his unit to the relatively quiet “nursery sector” outside the village of Bois Grenier.

The 4th Pioneer Battalion had only just arrived in France before it filed into the trenches for the first time. Douglas and his comrades were allocated the task of mending the waterlogged and shell-torn breastwork defences outside Bois Grenier, which included extending a communication trench between two main thoroughfares towards the front line. Although the sector was comparatively quiet, used to acclimatise new troops to the conditions specific to trench warfare, German artillery bombarded the Australian positions with some regularity.

It was during one of these bombardments on 25 June 1916 that Douglas Murphy was mortally wounded by German shell fragments; he was evacuated to a nearby dressing station with shrapnel in his lower abdomen but died soon after, aged 36. He was buried at the Brewery Orchard Cemetery near where he died, and rests there today.

Douglas Murphy’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 Douglas Murphy, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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