The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1023) Private William Albert McColl, 14th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2016.2.327
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 22 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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (1023) Private William Albert McColl, 14th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1023 Private William Albert McColl, 14th Battalion, AIF
KIA 8 August 1915
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 22 November 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Albert McColl.

Affectionately known as “Willy”, William McColl was born on 3 August 1895 in Meredith, Victoria, to John and Mary McColl. He was the last of nine children. He grew up in Meredith, attended the nearby Bamganie Public School, and after leaving school worked as a farmer.

McColl enlisted in Geelong on 1 October 1914, joining the newly raised 14th Battalion. After several months of training, he embarked from Melbourne that December aboard the transport ship Ulysses.

Further training in Egypt followed before the battalion sailed to Lemnos in preparation for the Gallipoli campaign. The 14th Battalion came ashore on the evening of 25 April and in the following weeks took part in establishing and improving the Australian defensive line.

In May the 14th Battalion was involved in holding off an Ottoman counter-attack that attempted to drive the Australians into the sea. Ottoman troops broke into the battalion’s front line at Courtney’s Post, but a one-man attack by Lance Corporal Albert Jacka restored the situation. Jacka would be awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions.

On the evening of 6 August the 14th Battalion moved from their positions at Reserve Gully as part of the 4th Brigade’s left-flank attack on Hill 971. Up on the heights, the battle for Lone Pine raged. The going was tough, and poor maps and no prior reconnaissance combined with stiff Ottoman resistance to make any progress slow.

At 7.30 am on the morning of 8 August the order was given for the Australians to retire. As they began making their way back to their new positions at Australia Valley, McColl was shot and killed. He was 20 years old.

His remains were unable to be recovered, and his name was added to the Lone Pine Memorial.

Trooper William Gillett, McColl’s cousin, was serving with New Zealand’s Otago Mounted Rifles and was killed around the same time during the action at Chunuk Bair.

An older brother, Hugh, enlisted after McColl’s death, and was wounded serving with the 58th Battalion at Fromelles, returning to Australia in early 1917.

McColl’s 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 Albert McColl, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section