The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4629) Private Andrew Watson, 46th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2016.2.163
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 11 June 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (4629) Private Andrew Watson, 46th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

4629 Private Andrew Watson, 46th Battalion, AIF
KIA 5 April 1918
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 11 June 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Andrew Watson.

Andrew Watson was born in 1881 to William and Jane Watson of Belfast, Victoria, later renamed Port Fairy. He became a teamster, and was described as “a fine, manly fellow, who had a lot of acquaintances in the district, and was spoken of in the highest terms by all who knew him”.

Watson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915 at the age of 34. He was posted to the 14th Battalion and underwent a period of training in Australia before being sent to Egypt. He arrived there in early 1916, when the AIF was undergoing a reorganisation following the evacuation from Gallipoli. As a result Watson was transferred to the 46th Battalion. He continued training and did not arrive in France to fight on the Western Front until June 1916.

Private Watson was with the 46th Battalion in the front line near the French village of Pozières in mid-1916, and survived the savage fighting under heavy artillery fire. The battalion spent the harsh winter of 1916–17 rotating in and out of the front line. At Christmas Watson received a box of gifts from the Red Cross Society, and sent a letter back with his thanks, writing:

The company is delighted to-night, having received a little box each, and they lose no time in writing their thanks … We hope some day to return to sunny Australia, but, of course, a fair amount of luck is wanted to get through it all.

In February 1917, after months in the frozen front line, Watson was struck down with trench foot, and was sent to hospital in England. He returned to the training camps in England in May, writing to his sister:

the life is worried out of us at these camps, and I for one am sick of being “bossed” about by coots with stars who should be in the line instead of making things bad for us here … we might get a few days’ rest in France, but we get none here.

Private Watson returned to France in September. Early the following April the battalion was holding the railway line at Dernancourt near the French town of Albert. For several days it came under heavy German bombardment and infantry attacks. On 5 April 1918, having just returned to the front line near Lavieville, the 46th Battalion came under a heavy German artillery barrage. Some 25 men were wounded or killed in the bombardment, and the battalion war diary noted that it was “a marvel that heavy casualties did not occur”.

One of those killed was Private Andrew Watson. He was in a dug-out when a shell fragment hit him in the head, killing him instantly. He was buried nearby in the Millencourt Communal Cemetery Extension. He was 37.

His 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 Andrew Watson, 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 (4629) Private Andrew Watson, 46th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)