The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1927) Corporal Harold Jones, 55th Battalion, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Peronne
Accession Number AWM2016.2.79
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 March 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (1927) Corporal Harold Jones, 55th Battalion, First World War.

** The recording of this Ceremony is damaged and not suitable for release to the public. **

Speech transcript

1927 Corporal Harold Jones, 55th Battalion
KIA 2 September 1918
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 19 March 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Harold Jones, who was killed while fighting in France during the First World War.

Harold Jones was born in 1894, one of nine children of William and Alice Jones of Christchurch, New Zealand. When Harold was young the family moved to Mittagong on the New South Wales Southern Tablelands. He attended Bowral District High School before working with his father as an assistant maltster at the Tooth & Co. Brewery in Mittagong. Having spent a year in senior cadets as part of the mandatory government military training scheme of the time, Jones spent several years parading with the 43rd Infantry Regiment, where he held a commission as a lieutenant.

Jones enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Goulburn in January 1916, and after a period of training he embarked for England with a reinforcement group for the 55th Battalion. The following months were spent training on the Salisbury Plains in Wiltshire, England, before embarking for the Western Front in November 1916.

At this time the 55th Battalion had recovered from its heavy losses sustained at Fromelles and had moved to the Somme, where it spent the following winter in the trenches near Flers. Conditions were horrendous; the mud, rain, and frostbite posing far greater threats than the German army. In January 1917 Jones was evacuated to England with a severe case of trench foot and spent several months recovering in hospital. He missed the 55th Battalion’s costly actions at Doignies and Bullecourt and returned to France in August 1917.

By now the focus of operations had shifted north into Belgium, and Jones participated in the 5th Division’s successful capture of the German bastion at Polygon Wood.

Jones was promoted to corporal in January 1918, and he attended a number of courses as the AIF prepared for a new year of fighting. Fortunately, the 55th Battalion was spared most of the German Spring Offensive, although it was in the line further to the north when the 13th and 15th Brigades successfully recaptured Villers-Bretonneux in April. The battalion remained in the area until the start of the Allied counter-offensive several months later, and participated in the advance that followed as the Australia Corps spearheaded the final push in the last 100 days of the war.

Most notably, the 55th Battalion played a pivotal role in the capture of Pèronne, which fell to the Australians on 2 September 1918. This success marked the beginning of the end of the First World War, and represented the last line of German resistance before the allies broke through the Hindenburg Line.

Despite the victory, Pèronne came at a heavy cost to the Australians. Among the 55th Battalion’s 164 casualties incurred in the fighting that day was Harold Jones, who was among those killed in action. At just 24 years old, he was buried in the nearby Herbecourt British Cemetery.

The name of Harold Jones 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 Corporal Harold Jones, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section