The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2099) Private Michael “Mick” Kelly 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Ypres, Menin Road, Hooge
Accession Number AWM2016.2.81
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 21 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
Description

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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (2099) Private Michael “Mick” Kelly 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2099 Private Michael “Mick” Kelly 60th Battalion, AIF
KIA 25 September 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 21 March 2016

Today we remember Private Michael Kelly, who was killed during the First World War.

Michael Kelly was born in 1891 in Fitzroy, Victoria. He grew up and went to school in the area, and by the time the First World War began, both of his parents had passed away and he was working as a motor lorry driver.

Kelly enlisted for service in the AIF in Melbourne on 28 June 1915. After some initial training, he was posted to the 3rd reinforcements to the 23rd Battalion and embarked in August aboard the transport ship Anchises. He landed briefly in Egypt before being sent on to Gallipoli, where he joined D Company of the 23rd Battalion that October.

The 23rd Battalion served in the Lone Pine sector and was involved in counter-mining operations against the Turks. The men of the 23rd were among the last troops to leave Anzac on the night of 19 December, as the Gallipoli campaign came to an end.

When the battalion arrived back in Egypt, it was not long before Kelly and trouble became friends. From January to March he was charged with various counts of going absent without leave, failure to comply with orders, and stealing from natives. In all, he forfeited 33 days’ pay. In April he was transferred to the 60th Battalion, but after mis-using army property was hospitalised with a skin complaint until late July. Back in England, he continued to go absent without leave, and later that year was once more hospitalised.

Back with his training unit, Kelly kept a clean sheet for a month, but on New Year’s Day 1917 went absent once more. Only days later he was again before the commanding officer, this time having sworn at an NCO and given a false name at the guard house after being arrested. At the end of February Kelly sailed to France and spent nearly a month at Étaples before joining the 60th Battalion in March.

A month later the battalion was at Mametz for a period of rest and training. Kelly continued to get into trouble, and was court-martialled in June. Having been sent to a field compound to serve out his punishment, Kelly did not re-join his battalion until mid-August.

The 60th Battalion was sent to Belgium, and on 25 September Kelly was assisting his company quartermaster sergeant on a ration fatigue in the Hooge sector. As the men neared the front line the area was heavily shelled by the Germans. The back of Kelly’s head was blown off by shrapnel, and although he was quickly bandaged and handed over to stretcher-bearers, he died soon after. He was buried at a nearby casualty clearing station. After the war his remains were recovered and he was re-interred at Tyne Cot Cemetery. Though hardly an exemplary soldier, Kelly had been popular among his mates. He was 26 years old.

Kelly’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with more than 60,000 others from the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Michael Kelly, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2099) Private Michael “Mick” Kelly 60th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)