The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (19) Private Arthur Leonard Smith, 1st Australian Field Ambulance, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Pozieres Area, Pozieres
Accession Number AWM2016.2.111
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 20 April 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 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 (19) Private Arthur Leonard Smith, 1st Australian Field Ambulance, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

19 Private Arthur Leonard Smith, 1st Australian Field Ambulance
KIA 17 August 1916
Photograph: P03088.014

Story delivered 20 April 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Arthur Leonard Smith.

Known as “Len”, Smith was born in 1891 in St Leonards, Sydney, to Arthur and Elizabeth Smith. He attended the Fort Street School and went on to work for the New South Wales Railway as a signalman. He was also a member of the Irish Rifles of New South Wales.

Smith enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914. He was posted to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance, and left Sydney on the troopship Euripides in October 1914. Arriving in Egypt in December, he spent some time training in Mena Camp.

In early April 1915 the 1st Field Ambulance left Egypt and went to Lemnos, where it prepared to land on Gallipoli. The day before the landing, Private Smith recorded the following in his diary:

"my thoughts today have been back with dear old Australia with mother and father, the children and all my friends … There are times when I almost wish that I had not come, but soon squash those feelings as it is useless to let them worry you. However, when the time comes, I have no doubt that I shall worthily uphold the reputation of the family and district that I am representing."

Smith landed on Gallipoli around 10.15 am and spent the next day and night collecting the wounded. He wrote:

"it is very hard to relate your first feelings on entering a battle. When you heard the shrapnel coming towards you, you duck down instinctively, but
you soon learn to judge the flight of the shells and know when to take cover."

Smith continued working as a stretcher-bearer in the rugged hills of Gallipoli throughout the campaign. When the time came for the Australians to leave the peninsula in December 1915, he wrote:

"It was a sad day for us that the order for the evacuation was issued. Every man of the good old 1st Division has someone whom he honoured and respected, lying in one of those solitary graves at Anzac, the thought of having to leave these sacred spots to the mercy of the enemy made the spirit of the men revolt and cry out in anguish at the thought of it. It has even been said that some of the men broke down and cried … it drives me almost to despair."

In March 1916 Smith arrived in France to fight on the Western Front. The following June his brother Stanley, serving with the 2nd Division Signals, died of septicaemia in France.

On 17 August 1916 Private Smith was killed in action near the French village of Pozières. Little is known of the manner of his death. He was buried in Pozières British Cemetery, where his epitaph reads: “He gave his life for God, King and Country. Farewell loved one.” He was 25 years old.

Private Smith’s 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 Private Arthur Leonard Smith, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (19) Private Arthur Leonard Smith, 1st Australian Field Ambulance, First World War. (video)