The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (868) Private William Henry Nobbs, 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2016.2.326
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 November 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (868) Private William Henry Nobbs, 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

868 Private William Henry Nobbs, 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion, AIF
KIA 6 September 1918

No photograph in collection

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Henry Nobbs.

Born in Plaistow in England to Ernest and Mary Ann Nobbs, William Nobbs immigrated to Australia with his parents in 1912. When he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 13 January 1916 he was 24 years old, engaged to Edith May Maltwood, and working as a labourer in Brisbane.

Nobbs was assigned to the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion. These battalions were employed on the Western Front to build roads, improve trenches, clear debris, organise water supplies, construct billets, and undertake general labouring work. Among their ranks were engineers, plumbers, and carpenters.

Nobbs embarked for England aboard the troop ship Wandilla in June 1916. There he undertook training until late November, when he proceeded with his unit to France.

On 6 October 1917 Nobbs was wounded in action at Rouen in France, receiving a gunshot wound to the right hand. He was sent to England to recuperate and, while there, married Edith on 8 December at Newham in Essex. He did not return to France until late January 1918.

Throughout the winter and into the summer months Nobbs continued working with his unit in support of various infantry operations along the Western Front. On 5 September 1918 the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion received instructions to prepare to move forward in support of the 11th Australian Infantry Brigade’s operation at Mont Saint-Quentin, following up the German retreat from the Somme line.

A general advance was ordered for midnight, and the initial objective was reached without opposition. At 4:30 am the advance continued to the French town of Tincourt, where the men encountered machine-gun and rifle fire.

After some much needed rest, the advance continued, harassing the retreating German force and causing the evacuation of Tincourt. At some point on 6 September Private Henry Nobbs was killed in action, and was buried at the Tincourt New British Cemetery. He was 27 years old.

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

Emma Campbell
Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (868) Private William Henry Nobbs, 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)