|Last Post film
Australian War Memorial
|Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
|2 February 2017
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1626) Private Joseph James Valli, 7th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
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 (1626) Private Joseph James Valli, 7th Battalion, AIF, First World War.Film order form
1626 Private Joseph James Valli, 7th Battalion, AIF
DOW 24 August 1916
No photograph in collection
Story delivered 2 February 2017
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Joseph James Valli.
Popularly known as “Joe”, Joseph Valli was born in 1896 to John and Sarah Valli of Golden-Square, near Bendigo, Victoria. He attended the Marist Brothers’ College in Bendigo, and went on to work as a blacksmith for Flood and Sons carriage builders. He was a member of the Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society, a church-based support network, and was “very popular amongst a wide circle of friends”.
Valli enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in late 1914, and underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with reinforcements to the 7th Battalion. He was first sent to Egypt, and from there to Gallipoli, arriving on the peninsula in May 1915.
On 29 June Private Joe Valli was shot by a sniper. He later wrote to his brother to tell him what happened, writing:
we sapped under our firing line towards the Turks, and then made a new firing line parallel with theirs but never took the top off. We were going to surprise them and open it up the first dark night. Well, the sapper and my mate and I were building up a partition to shield us as we passed along, and I volunteered to put a couple of sandbags on the outside to keep it from falling over. I had just placed the second when one of their snipers got me from about 60 yards.
Valli added, “I was on my side when I got hit, and it went through my right shoulder, through the joint and right lung, and came out my back.”
In fact, the bullet had to be cut out of his back, and Valli spent 11 months in hospital in England recovering.
Later in 1916 he re-joined his battalion as it prepared to participate in the heavy fighting around the French village of Pozières on the Western Front. In the early hours of 18 August the 7th Battalion filtered into trenches to the north-east of the village, and that evening attacked nearby German positions.
Private Valli failed to return from the operation, and was posted as missing. After some months of investigations, it was determined that he had been shot in the chest and made a prisoner of war. His wounds proved serious, and he died on 24 August 1916 in a German hospital. He was 20 years old.
Joseph James Valli was buried in the local cemetery in the French village of Caudry, where he lies today under the words “May the Lord have mercy on his soul”.
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 Joseph James Valli, 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 (1626) Private Joseph James Valli, 7th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)