The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2006) Private William Norman Carnall, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Corbie Albert Area, Morlancourt
Accession Number AWM2016.2.206
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 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

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 (2006) Private William Norman Carnall, 29th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

** Due to a technical fault there is no recording of this Last Post Ceremony **

Speech transcript

2006 Private William Norman Carnall, 29th Battalion, AIF
KIA 23 July 1918
Photograph: P08492.001

Story delivered 24 July 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Norman Carnall, who died fighting in France during the First World War.

William Carnall was born in 1897, one of five children of Frederick and Mary Carnall of the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh. Known within the family as “Norman”, he attended the local state school, paraded with the 47th Senior Cadet Unit in accord with the government’s universal military service scheme, and worked as a grocer’s assistant in the Oakleigh area. According to family folklore, he tried unsuccessfully to join the Australian Imperial Force on three occasions before finally being accepted in July 1915 at the age of 17.

After several months of training Carnall embarked for Egypt with a reinforcement group for the 29th Battalion in February 1916. Friends from training came to know him as “Snowy” on account of his light hair.

The Gallipoli campaign had well and truly ended by the time Carnall arrived in Egypt, but he spent several weeks training in Egypt before embarking with the battalion for the fighting on the Western Front. His first major action in France took place at Fromelles on the night of 19 July 1916. He survived the carnage of the battle, and remained with his battalion in the area until later in the year, when he was evacuated to England with trench foot. He spent most of 1917 recovering, re-joining his battalion in October.

The 29th Battalion spent the winter in Belgium before heading south to the Somme to help defend Amiens during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. The 5th Division, of which the 29th Battalion was part, was held in reserve and did not take part in the bitter battles that
defined that period of the Australian campaign. Carnall was nevertheless present when the leading German air ace of the war, Manfred von Richthofen, or “The Red Baron”, was shot down and killed by Australian troops near Sailly-le-Sec that April.

Once the German threat to Amiens had abated, the Australians took part in a series of minor operations to straighten their line before the allies began their own counter-offensive. On 23 July 1918, while the 29th Battalion held part of the front near the village of Morlancourt, Carnall was severely wounded when a German artillery shell landed in the trenches occupied by his platoon. He was taken to the nearest Regimental Aid Post but succumbed to his wounds soon after. Aged 20 at the time of his death, Carnall was buried nearby at Mericourt-l’Abbe Communal Cemetery.

Private Carnall’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 others from the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section