The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2281) Lance Corporal Norman Gilbert Henley, 27th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Combles Area, Fricourt, Peake Wood Cemetery
Accession Number AWM2016.2.348
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 13 December 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (2281) Lance Corporal Norman Gilbert Henley, 27th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

2281 Lance Corporal Norman Gilbert Henley, 27th Battalion, AIF
Accidentally killed 2 April 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 13 December 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Norman Henley.

Norman Gilbert Henley was born on 17 March 1888 in Goolwa, South Australia, to Benjamin and Esther Henley, the second of 12 children. He grew up in Goolwa and attended the local school, after which he took up work as a farmer.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Henley enlisted for service with the 27th Battalion at Keswick on 16 July 1915. After initial training, he was allocated to the battalion’s 4th reinforcements.

Henley embarked from Port Adelaide in September aboard the transport ship Star of England bound for Egypt. He spent several months in Egypt before being sent to Lemnos, where he joined the 27th Battalion that December. As the last Australian troops had been evacuated from Gallipoli, Henley sailed back to Egypt with his battalion.

The 27th Battalion sailed for France in mid–March and entered the front line near Armentières. Henley took part in his first major battle at Pozières in July. Initially acting in a support role, the 27th Battalion was involved in the push towards Bapaume in early August. After the heavy fighting, it was transferred to the quiet Ypres sector in Belgium. Returning to the Somme in October, it took part in two wasteful attacks near Flers in November 1917.

The onset of winter took a toll on Henley’s health and he was evacuated suffering from influenza on 5 December. He did not return to the battalion until early January 1917.

In February the German forces began withdrawing to their prepared defences of the Hindenburg Line, and the 27th Battalion was involved in the pursuit operations. Next month Henley was promoted to lance corporal, and on 23 March he was wounded after an outpost he and others were manning engaged an enemy patrol. During the exchange of fire one Australian were killed, while five were wounded. Henley received shrapnel wounds to his back and was evacuated, but he was back with his battalion by the end of the month.

On 2 April the 27th Battalion was in camp at Scots Redoubt. Henley was taking part in bomb throwing practice when one detonated prematurely in his hand, killing him instantly. His remains were laid to rest in the nearby Peake Wood Cemetery at Fricourt. He was 29 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 Lance Corporal Norman Gilbert Henley, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2281) Lance Corporal Norman Gilbert Henley, 27th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)