The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7373) Sergeant Alleyn Edols, 5th Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Passchendaele
Accession Number AWM2016.2.16
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 January 2016
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 (7373) Sergeant Alleyn Edols, 5th Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

7373 Sergeant Alleyn Edols, 5th Field Artillery Brigade, AIF
KIA 21 October 1917
No photograph in collection – Family supplied

Story delivered 16 January 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant Alleyn Thomas Edols, who was killed fighting in Belgium in the First World War.

Alleyn Edols was born in 1888, one of four children of Frank and Lillian Edols of Forbes, New South Wales. The family was one of the oldest grazing families in Australia at the time, and was well known in the rural community of southern New South Wales. Alleyn attended Sydney Church of England Grammar School in North Sydney, where he was known for his prowess as a runner, and was a member of the Boat Club. He went on to work with his father as a grazier and station manager on the family property “Burrawang Estate”, near Yarrabandai in the Central West.

Alleyn enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in September 1915 at Victoria Barracks in Sydney, and after a period of training at the Loftus Heights Military Camp, embarked for Egypt with the 5th Field Artillery Brigade in November. The Gallipoli campaign had ended before the brigade arrived, and the following months were spent training and reorganising in preparation for the fighting on the Western Front. Alleyn’s command and leadership skills were recognised by his superiors during this time. Having been promoted to corporal on the troopship to Egypt, he was a sergeant in 14th Battalion when the 5th Field Artillery Brigade arrived in France in March 1916.

Forming part of the 2nd Division Artillery, the 5th Field Artillery Brigade first entered the line in the sector near Armentières. As a member of a six-man gun team, Alleyn manned one of the battery’s four 18-pound field guns that laid down bombardments and supressing fire on the German positions. His battery fired in support of Australian troops at Fromelles, Pozières, and Mouquet Farm, and participated in the advance towards the Hindenburg Line in 1917.

Artillery units were taking on a more central role in operations on the Western Front in 1917, as British tactics evolved to give the infantry more fire support. After three weeks’ furlough in London in September, Alleyn returned to the front at a time when the focus of British operations had shifted north into Belgium. The 5th Field Artillery Brigade participated in the bitter fighting in the Third Battle of Ypres throughout October, and was temporarily attached to the 4th Division Artillery to support I ANZAC in its assault on Passchendaele village. The battery’s 18-pounders were dug in along the Hannebeke River in the area known at San Souci, and fired a creeping barrage to protect the infantry.

Over the next few days the battery was exposed to repeated counter-fire from German artillery. On the night of 21 October 1917 the Germans shelled some of the Australian artillery positions with high-explosives and gas. The battery suffered a number of casualties in the bombardment, among them Alleyn Edols, who was killed instantly by a German shell.

Aged just 29, Alleyn was buried at the nearby Dochy Farm New British Cemetery. According to the Western Champion newspaper back home, Alleyn was “particularly popular with all sections of the community, and his death will be deplored by a wide circle of friends”.

Alleyn Edols is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with 60,000 others from the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is just one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Sergeant Alleyn Edols, 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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