The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Second Lieutenant Archibald Frank Redhead, 23rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bapaume Cambrai Area, Noreuil
Accession Number PAFU2015/389.01
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 19 September 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on Second Lieutenant Archibald Frank Redhead, 23rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

Second Lieutenant Archibald Frank Redhead, 23rd Battalion, AIF
KIA 6 May 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 19 September 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Archibald Frank Redhead.

Known as “Frank”, Redhead was born in 1892, the second son of James and Sabina Redhead. His parents had migrated to Australia from England and settled in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, where Frank was born and James and Sabina’s six children were raised. Little is known of Frank’s schooling, but he went on to become a bookkeeper. He was a member of the senior cadets, and was one of the most prominent and active members of the Wagga Rifle Club.

Frank was the first of three of the four boys in the family to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force, doing so in January 1915. The Wagga Rifle Club and the Murrumbidgee Milling Company, possibly his employer, held an event to wish him luck before he left, and presented him with a wristwatch and a comb and brush set, among other gifts.

A month later Frank’s older brother John, known to the family as Jack, enlisted. Towards the end of 1915 their younger brother Mark was an organising secretary of the Kangaroo March, a recruitment drive from Wagga Wagga. By the time Mark was organising the march, Frank and Jack were in the firing line on Gallipoli.

Frank Redhead was posted to the 4th Battalion, and quickly proved to be an able soldier. Within months of his arrival on Gallipoli he was promoted a number of times and seconded to 2nd Division Headquarters along with Jack. He left the peninsula several times for duty in Egypt. On 30 August 1915 he left Alexandria on board the troopship Southland. A few days later, just 40 miles from Lemnos, the troopship was torpedoed. Almost all the men, including Redhead, were evacuated in life boats, and he eventually returned to Gallipoli.

In 1916 Redhead, now staff sergeant, was sent to the Western Front to serve as superintending clerk at 2nd Division Headquarters. Towards the end of the year he attended an officers’ cadet school. In January 1917 he qualified for a commission in the infantry. He was appointed second lieutenant and a month later went back to France. Soon he was Mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig for his distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty.

Throughout his service Redhead wrote long letters home. It was reported that “his home letters were most regular and newsy, and showed always the true traits of his nature, and thoughtfulness at all times for others”.

On 6 May 1917 Redhead was serving with the 23rd Battalion near the French village of Noreuil. The battalion diary recorded a quiet day, with only two men reported dead. One was the intelligence officer, Lieutenant Winter. The other was Second Lieutenant Frank Redhead. Nothing is known of the manner of his death other than that he was killed in action. He was buried in an isolated grave near Noreuil, and after the war his remains were moved to the nearby HAC Cemetery. He was 25 years old.

Jack Redhead was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, returned from the war and later died of war-related wounds in Melbourne. Mark returned to Australia in January 1919.

The name of Archibald Frank Redhead is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during 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 Second Lieutenant Archibald Frank Redhead, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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