The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (427) Driver Alfred Cole, 110th Australian Howitzer Battery, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Ypres, Kandahar Farm Cemetery
Accession Number PAFU2015/468.01
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 18 November 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 (427) Driver Alfred Cole, 110th Australian Howitzer Battery, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

427 Driver Alfred Cole, 110th Australian Howitzer Battery, AIF
KIA 14 June 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 18 November 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Driver Alfred Cole, who enlisted as Jack Plush in the Australian Imperial Force in 1914.

Alfred Cole was born in 1886 in Silverton, near Broken Hill in New South Wales. He was the son of David and Rosalinda Cole. As a child, Cole moved with his family to Mildura, where he attended the local state school and went on to become a butcher. He left Mildura around 1906 and seems to have lost contact with his family.

Cole enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force within weeks of the outbreak of war in 1914. After enlisting he wrote to his sister, Kate Evans, to let her know where he had been all those years. He told her that he had married Florence Henery in 1907, but the marriage was not a comfortable one: “me and her could not hit it so I did a brake”. Since then, he said, he had travelled “all over the place”, but had finally settled in Sydney and had enlisted from there.

When Cole had left Broken Hill and his wife behind he took the name Jack Plush, and it was under this name that he had enlisted. He was first posted to the 1st Light Horse Regiment, and arrived on the Gallipoli peninsula in June 1915. He proved an able soldier and a good shot, and for a short period was detached for duty as a sniper with the 9th Army Corps. In August 1915 Plush was shot in the right ankle and evacuated from Gallipoli, eventually reaching hospital in England. On his recovery he returned to Egypt.

In early 1916 the AIF underwent a period of expansion and reorganisation, and during this process Plush was transferred to the 4th Division Artillery. He was posted as a driver and sent to fight on the Western Front in France, arriving at Marseilles in June 1916. His service
record indicates that he remained with the 110th Howitzer Battery from that point on.

Life in the artillery was dangerous. The enemy’s artillery searched constantly for Australian guns, hoping to put them out of action, and the men handled explosives and other dangerous material on a daily basis.

On 14 June 1917, one year and one day after Plush had arrived in France, his battery was stationed near Messines in Belgium. A dump of ammunition stood nearby to supply the men’s guns as they fired them. A German shell hit this dump and it went up in a massive explosion, killing 16 men outright, with another three to die later of their wounds. Six other men were wounded in the blast.

Driver Plush was one of those killed in the blast. His name appears on a nearby monument erected by his comrades, and he is buried in Kandahar Farm Cemetery in Belgium. He was 31 years old.

His name 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 Alfred Cole, who served as Driver Jack Plush, 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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