The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Mack, HMS Defence, First World War.

Place Europe: Denmark, Jutland
Accession Number AWM2016.2.152
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 31 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 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Mack, HMS Defence, First World War.

** Due to technical issues this recording is of poor quality and not for public display **

Speech transcript

Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Mack, HMS Defence
KIA 31 May 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 31 May 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Mack.

Joseph Mack was born on 12 July 1896 in St Kilda, Melbourne. He was the eldest son of Joseph Gardner and Margaret Mack of Berry Bank, Lismore. His grandfather, also Joseph Mack, was one of the earliest residents of the western district of Victoria, and had arrived at the site of the Berry Bank homestead on horseback as a five year old.

Although both his father and grandfather spent their lives following pastoral pursuits, the youngest Joseph Mack determined to go to sea, and in October 1913 was appointed a midshipman in the Royal Australian Navy. Within a short period he was seconded to the British Royal Navy for training before returning for subsequent service in the RAN.

On the outbreak of the First World War Mack was serving with the Royal Navy together with another young Australian officer, George Patterson. Mack had recently been promoted to sub-lieutenant, and the two were on board HMS Defence, a Minotaur-class armoured cruiser stationed in the Mediterranean. In 1914 it was involved in the pursuit of the German warships Goeben and Breslau, which were eventually given to the Ottoman Empire. After some months blockading the two ships in the Dardanelles, Defence was transferred to the Grand Fleet in January 1915 and served in the North Sea.

On 31 May the British Grand Fleet met the German Navy’s High Seas Fleet in the North Sea near the Jutland Peninsula of Denmark. The resulting naval battle was the largest of the First World War, and saw the loss of 14 British and 11 German ships, along with thousands of lives.

HMS Defence served as the flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron. After pursuing a German light cruiser, it came under fire from a number of German battleships. Defence was hit twice, with one of the salvoes detonating the rear ammunition store on board. The fire from that explosion quickly spread, igniting the rest of the magazines on board. The resulting explosion resulted in Defence sinking with the loss of all souls on board, totalling almost 900.

Among the casualties on board HMS Defence were Australian Sub-Lieutenants Joseph Mack and George Paterson. Mack was 19 years old, Paterson 20.

Joseph Mack’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among the 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 Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Mack, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section