The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6256) Private William Daly 4th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.2
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 2 January 2017
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 (6256) Private William Daly 4th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6256 Private William Daly 4th Battalion, AIF
DOW 28 February 1917
Photograph: P05805.001

Story delivered 2 January 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private William Daly, who died while serving in the First World War.

William Daly was born on 3 March 1899, the third child born to Patrick and Mary Daly of Germantown in southern New South Wales. In 1915, when “Germantown” was deemed unpatriotic, the town was renamed “Holbrook” in honour of decorated wartime submarine captain and Victoria Cross recipient Norman Douglas Holbrook.

Daly grew up on his parents’ farm at Mullengandra. He and his sister, Sarah, and brother, John, were educated at home by tutors and governesses. Aside from their education, at which the children excelled, Daly and his brother worked with their father on the farm.

Daly was a high-spirited boy who sought adventure and was always up to mischief. He was tacitly encouraged by an aunt who seemed to enjoy his antics. He was a talented musician, playing the piano accordion, piano, and even the gumleaf, and was known for his fine tenor voice.

At the outbreak of the First World War Daly’s father and brother tried to enlist, but were rejected on medical grounds. When John received a white feather, an incensed 15-year-old William ran away to enlist, but was found and brought back home before he could sign up.

Not to be denied, William Daly ran away from home again and found employment with New South Wales Railways. He lived at the Railway Hotel at Junee and worked on the Albury-to-Sydney line. On 5 April 1916, Daly enlisted for service in the AIF at Cootamundra. He gave his age as 21 and was accepted by recruiters. He was sent to Liverpool
Camp in June, where he was allotted to the reinforcements to the 4th Battalion.

Daly spent his final leave at home in Mullengandra. The local townspeople threw him a farewell function at the local hotel, where he was presented with an illuminated watch. He embarked in September aboard the transport ship Euripides, arriving in England in late October. After some training he sailed for France in mid-December and joined the 4th Battalion at Bernafay Wood.

Daly had arrived in France in the midst of one of the worst European winters in recorded history. The 4th Battalion spent the next few months rotating in and out of the front line. On the evening of 28 February it was in reserve trenches near Le Barque when the trenches were heavily shelled by the Germans. One shell landed in the post occupied by Daly and another man, wounding both severely.

Both of Daly’s legs were severed below the knees by shrapnel. He was evacuated to the 1st Australian Field Ambulance, and was in severe shock when he arrived. He died of his wounds soon after, only days short of his 18th birthday. His remains were laid to rest the following day in Singer Circus Cemetery at Bazentin-le-Petit.

Daly’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 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 William Daly, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

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