The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1335) Corporal William John Hughes, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.22
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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (1335) Corporal William John Hughes, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

1335 Corporal William John Hughes, 15th Battalion, AIF
KIA 3 May 1915
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 22 January 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal William John Hughes.

William Hughes was born in 1885 to William and Susan Hughes of County Armagh in Northern Ireland. When he was a young boy his family moved to Glasgow in Scotland, where William grew up. Shortly after the turn of the century, he moved to Australia, settling in Queensland and joining the Queensland Police Force. He served for nine years in the police force before war broke out in 1914.

Hughes enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1915 with another Irish-born officer, David Bourke, at the South Brisbane police station. They underwent a brief period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas on the troopship Seang Bee in February. In Egypt the pair joined the 15th Battalion, which had arrived just weeks before, and continued training. By mid-April they had moved to the island of Lemnos, and were undertaking specialist training in disembarking ships into small boats.

The 15th Battalion began landing on Gallipoli on the afternoon of 25 April 1915, some of the troops having had the chance to witness the landing of British troops at Helles earlier that morning from their troopship. It took many hours to get the entire battalion ashore, with many not arriving until the following morning. Once the battalion was reorganised it headed for the heights above the beach, defending the shaky perimeter established the day before. During this period David Bourke was badly wounded. He was evacuated to hospital in Egypt, but died of his wounds on 2 May.

The next day the battalion came under attack as it occupied a position on Pope’s Hill. After a sharp fight, the attackers were repulsed and the 15th Battalion held its position. One of the few casualties suffered was Corporal William Hughes. Today he is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial on the Gallipoli peninsula. He was 30 years old.

After the deaths of Hughes and Bourke were reported in Australia, the men of the South Brisbane and West End police stations raised money to place enlarged photographs of the two in the hall of the South Brisbane police station in memory of their comrades.

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

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1335) Corporal William John Hughes, 15th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)