The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2706) Second Lieutenant Walter Harry Wilsdon DCM, 10th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Broodseinde, Celtic Wood
Accession Number AWM2016.2.145
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 24 May 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (2706) Second Lieutenant Walter Harry Wilsdon DCM, 10th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2706 Second Lieutenant Walter Harry Wilsdon DCM, 10th Battalion, AIF
KIA 9 October 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 24 May 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Second Lieutenant Walter Harry Wilsdon DCM.

Walter Wilsdon was born on 18 February 1893 in Caltowie, South Australia, to Charles and Amy Wilsdon. He was the first of seven children.

Wilsdon was brought up in a Methodist family and attended Caltowie Public School before going on to work as a farm labourer. He was a popular member of the Caltowie community and the Caltowie Cricket and Australian Rules Football clubs. He also taught at the Methodist Sunday School and was an active member of the Methodist Guild.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Wilsdon enlisted at Oaklands on 31 December 1914. He underwent initial training at the Australian Army Medical Corps depot in Adelaide before being posted as a stretcher-bearer to B Section of the 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance.

Wilsdon embarked from Outer Harbour in June 1915 aboard the transport ship Borda, bound for Egypt. He was not sent on to Gallipoli, but remained in Egypt for training. In March 1916 he transferred to the 3rd Field Ambulance, and at the end of the month sailed with his unit to France.

Wilsdon saw his first major battle at Pozières. On the first day of the battle he and another man went forward to bring out the wounded men. The congested communication trenches were too hard to get through, and instead they climbed into open country to reach the front line. Advancing under heavy shell-fire, they soon brought out a wounded man. Wilsdon and his fellow bearer made many more trips to the front line that day, each time under heavy fire. Both would later be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and Wilsdon was later promoted to lance corporal.

After enduring the terrible winter of 1916–17, Wilsdon was sent to England to attend an officer training school. Having successfully completed the course, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was posted to General Infantry Reinforcements.

On returning to France in mid-August Wilsdon was posted to the 10th Battalion, where he joined C Company as a platoon commander. He took part in the battles of Menin Road and Polygon Wood, and his battalion played a supporting role during the capture of Broodseinde Ridge, but was soon back in the front line.

On 9 October the 10th Battalion was ordered to raid Celtic Wood. C Company was tasked with the raid, though it had to be supplemented with volunteers from other companies. Wilsdon and his platoon were on the left of the line, and as the raiders began their advance on Celtic Wood they came under immediate fire from German machine-guns.

At some point during the raid Second Lieutenant Wilsdon was killed. Various witnesses gave accounts as to how he died, but it is believed he was killed as the initial German machine-gun fire decimated the two platoons on the left of the party. He was 24 years old.

Wilsdon’s remains were never recovered. As a result, his name was added to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in 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 Second Lieutenant Walter Harry Wilsdon DCM, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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