The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1127) Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Accession Number PAFU2015/295.01
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 5 July 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 (1127) Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams, 8th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1127 Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams, 8th Battalion, AIF
Presumed killed while prisoner of war 25 April 1915
Photograph: H14064

Story delivered 5 July 2015

Today we pay tribute to Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams, who was reported missing and presumed killed while a prisoner of war in 1915.

Born in 1896 in the town of Mildura, north-west Victoria, Edgar Adams, known as “Rob” was the son of James Rawson Adams and Sarah Elizabeth Adams, and the younger brother of Frederick James Adams.

As a young man Rob attended Koorlong Primary School and later received private tuition. He became a surveyor and engineer, and was working in this capacity at the outbreak of war. Frederick was working as a fruit grower. Both men left their jobs to enlist shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914. Frederick left Australia with the original 8th Battalion. Rob, who was just 18, followed two months later with the first reinforcements.

Both brothers landed at Anzac Cove with the 8th Battalion on 25 April 1915. Shortly after the landing they were parted in the desperate fighting through thick scrub. Later that night Fred Adams was digging in with his mate Tom. During a Turkish counter-attack Fred was shot through the head. His mates later buried him on a hillside overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Rob Adams went missing on the day of the landing. He was assumed to have been killed in action but then, curiously, a message in a bottle was found on a beach at Alexandria months later. Inside was a letter signed “E.R.C. Adams, AIF”, saying that he had been taken prisoner about two miles from where he and Fred had landed. His family’s hopes that he was still being held somewhere as a prisoner of war were ultimately dashed by a Red Cross report. It read: “We fear he is dead. He is only one of the many mysteries of that fatal landing at Gallipoli, when so many were killed and have never been found.” In 1918, three years after his disappearance, a court of inquiry concluded that Private Edgar Adams died on or about 25 April 1915 while a prisoner of the Turks, although no official documentation regarding his captivity has come to light.

His name is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing at Gallipoli.

The names of Rob and Frederick Adams are listed here 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 Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams, his brother, Private Frederick James Adams, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Dr Lachlan Grant
Historian, Military History Section


National Archives of Australia, service record, Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams.

“The late Private Adams: a letter from a comrade”, Mildura Cultivator, 20 November 1915, p. 6.

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