The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1089) Sergeant Richard Rosser, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Pozieres Area, Pozieres
Accession Number AWM2016.2.203
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 21 July 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (1089) Sergeant Richard Rosser, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1089 Sergeant Richard Rosser, 3rd Battalion, AIF
KIA 22–27 July 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 21 July 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sergeant Richard Walters Rosser, who died while fighting in France during the First World War.

Richard Rosser was born in 1894, one of 13 children of William and Christina Rosser of Corowa on the Murray River in southern New South Wales. He attended the provisional school on Tarramine Station and was active in the local senior cadet unit. In 1911 he travelled to England to represent Corowa at the coronation of King George V at Westminster Abbey – a matter of great honour for Australian families at the time. On his return he worked as a postal assistant, first at the Corowa Post Office and later at Nimmitabel.

At the outbreak of war Rosser had spent nearly four years part-time with the 57th Infantry Regiment, and was among the first to enlist in the newly formed Australian Imperial Force. He spent the following months training before embarking as an original member of the 3rd Battalion. Owing to his previous military experience, he was promoted to corporal and sailed as part of the first Australian troopship convoy. Initially headed for Europe, the troops were diverted to Egypt following Ottoman Turkey’s entry into the war. Arriving in Cairo, they spent the following months training at Mena Camp.

Corporal Rosser came ashore at Anzac Cove as part of the second wave attack early on 25 April and participated in the confused fighting over the following days. His battalion was involved in the defence of the beachhead before taking part in the fighting at Lone Pine. There Rosser was wounded in the shoulder by a piece of Turkish shrapnel and evacuated to a hospital in Egypt for recovery. He re-joined the battalion in September as it rested on the Greek island of Mudros, and returned to Egypt in December following the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula.

The Australians spent the following months training in Egypt in preparation for the fighting on the Western Front. During this time the AIF underwent a major restructure and effectively doubled in size. Rosser was promoted to sergeant, and sailed for France in April 1916. He entered the line for the first time in the relatively quiet sector near the town of Armentières, where the Australians carried out a vigorous program of patrolling and trench raiding. Later the 3rd Battalion transferred to the Somme, where the British had started their first major offensive on the Western Front.

Early on 23 July 1916 Australian troops of the 1st Division captured the village of Pozières. Men of the 3rd Battalion were among the assaulting troops, capturing and consolidating a number of key German positions, including the infamous German blockhouse known as Gibraltar. The Australians were shelled relentlessly over the following days, and by the time the 3rd Battalion was relieved several days later it had lost 96 men killed, 359 wounded, and 43 men missing.

Among the dead was Sergeant Richard Rosser. It is unknown exactly when he died, and his remains were never recovered from the battlefield. As such, he is listed on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux alongside the more than 10,000 Australians killed fighting in France who have no known grave. He was 22 years old.

Sergeant Rosser is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 others from 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 Sergeant Richard Walters Rosser, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1089) Sergeant Richard Rosser, 3rd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)