The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1610) Private James Mollison, 25th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2016.2.169
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 17 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 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (1610) Private James Mollison, 25th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1610 Private James Mollison, 25th Battalion, AIF
KIA 17 June 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 17 June 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private James Jackson Mollison, killed while fighting in Belgium during the First World War.

James Mollison was born in 1889, and was the eldest of eight children of Andrew and Mary Mollison of Glasgow, Scotland. Known to his family and friends as Jim, he spent his formative years growing up in Radford in Nottinghamshire, England, where he attended Huntingdon Street High School. Both parents died while he was at school, so Mollison left school early to start work as a butcher to support his younger brothers and sisters. In 1910, aged 21, he and his brother Alfred immigrated to Brisbane, where Jim worked as a bridge builder for the Queensland Railways.

Mollison enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in May 1915, and after a period of training sailed for Egypt several weeks later with a reinforcement group for the 25th Battalion. The battalion landed on Gallipoli in early September and reinforced the depleted New Zealand and Australian Division to the north of the Anzac positions, although its time in the line was relatively quiet.

Mollison was evacuated to Egypt with enteric fever in October, and spent the following weeks resting and recovering in hospital. By the time he returned to the battalion in January 1916 it had been evacuated from Gallipoli and was training near Cairo in preparation for its departure for the Western Front.

The 25th Battalion arrived in France in March 1916 and, along with the rest of the 2nd Division, entered the trenches for the first time in the relatively quiet “nursery” sector near the town of Armentières. Here the troops learned the rigours and routine of fighting in France. While the days were spent improving their defences, by night the men patrolled no man’s land and conducted trench raids on the German positions opposite.

On 17 June 1916 the 25th Battalion was moving north into Belgium to take up positions in the Wulverghem–Messines sector when they passed through two German gas clouds while filing up the line near Hill 63. The men had donned their gas masks and were waiting for the clouds to pass when the German artillery hit them with a combination of highexplosive and shrapnel. The battalion suffered two casualties that day – Private Beaumont Philpott, who died of a lethal dose of gas poisoning, and Private James Mollison, believed to have been killed outright by an exploding German shell.

Aged 27 at the time of his death, Mollison was buried nearby at the La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery. A small epitaph penned by his grieving younger sister Elsie appears on his headstone: “Loved in life, ever beloved in death.”

Private James Mollison was the first of 12,749 soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force who died while fighting in Belgium during the First World War.

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

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