The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3618) Private Henry George James, 52nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2016.2.248
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 4 September 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 Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (3618) Private Henry George James, 52nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3618 Private Henry George James, 52nd Battalion, AIF
KIA 3 September 1916
Photograph: P11995.001

Story delivered 4 September 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Henry George James.

Henry James was born in Scottsdale, Tasmania, the fifth of nine children. His mother, Ane Mary Jensen, had migrated to Australia from Denmark when she was 18 years old and married Tasmanian farmer Joseph George James in 1889. Henry James grew up on the family farm and attended the Scottsdale State School. He was an active member of the cadets, spending three years as a senior cadet, during which time he gained his marksman’s badge, and a year with the light horse.

James enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. He was initially posted to the 26th Battalion but after falling ill at Broadmeadows Camp he was transferred to the 12th Battalion. After completing further training he was sent overseas with the 11th reinforcements to the 12th Battalion and continued training in Egypt. He spent three weeks in hospital with the mumps in January 1916, and was eventually transferred to the 52nd Battalion. In June 1916 he finally reached France.

Shortly after arriving in France the 52nd Battalion participated in the heavy fighting around the French village of Pozières. Initially, its role was in support of the main attacks towards Mouquet Farm, but on 3 September 1916 the battalion held a key assaulting role against the German stronghold. The attack was a failure, and the farm remained uncaptured. The 52nd Battalion suffered enormous casualties – half of its strength was reported killed, wounded, or missing by the end of the operation.

One of those killed was Private Henry George James. Little is known of the manner of his death. He was apparently buried near the French village of Thiepval, but his grave was lost in subsequent fighting. He was 19 years old.

Today he is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial to the missing at Villers-Bretonneux, and on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.

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

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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