The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (381) Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France
Accession Number PAFU2015/508.01
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 December 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 Joanne Smedley, the story for this day was on (381) Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

381 Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps, 9th Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 April 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 18 December 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps.

George Phipps was born on 15 July 1895 in Stanley, Brisbane, to James and Emily Phipps. He attended Kangaroo Point State School, and in 1906 he joined the cadets. Phipps was an excellent student and was named dux of the school in 1909, for which he was presented a gold medal. He had risen steadily through the cadet ranks, and by 1914 had been commissioned and promoted to first lieutenant. After finishing school, Phipps was employed as a teacher’s assistant at his old school, while continuing to serve with the senior cadets.

Phipps enlisted in Brisbane on 25 August, just weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. He joined the 9th Battalion and was posted as a private to C Company. With his previous cadet experience Phipps was promoted to sergeant within weeks of joining the battalion. After some initial training, he embarked with his unit from Brisbane aboard the transport ship Omrah.

Arriving in Egypt in November 1914, Phipps began several months of training in the desert sands before being transferred with his battalion to Lemnos in March 1915 to prepare for the Gallipoli campaign. Phipps was among the first wave of troops ashore in the pre-dawn hours of 25 April, and remained on Gallipoli until late August, when he was evacuated with dysentery. He returned to Anzac at the end of September and remained on with his battalion until November, when it was withdrawn to Lemnos.

Returning to Egypt in early January 1916, the battalion had a period of rest and reinforcement before sailing for France and the Western Front at the end of March. By 19 April the 9th Battalion was in reserve billets near Rouge-de-Bout, one mile behind the front line in the Armentières or “nursery” sector. Intermittent artillery fire was landing nearby.

Early the following afternoon tragedy struck when the battalion’s C Company billets were heavily shelled. One shell landed outside a canvas tent, wounding four soldiers. As men went to assist, another shell landed among them, killing several and wounding others. Yet another shell hit a brick wall of a nearby billet, causing a further 47 casualties. C Company was decimated, with 50 wounded and 25 men killed, one of whom was George Phipps. Several other men would die from their wounds over the ensuing days.

The fallen men of C Company were laid to rest later that day in the Rue-Du-Bacquerot (13th London) Graveyard at Laventie. Company Sergeant Major George Phipps was just 20 years old.

His 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 Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (381) Company Sergeant Major George Thomas Phipps, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)