The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Harry Forster Rutledge, 7th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.55
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 24 February 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
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 Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Harry Forster Rutledge, 7th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, First World War.

Speech transcript

Lieutenant Harry Forster Rutledge, 7th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery
KIA 9 October 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 24 February 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Harry Forster Rutledge.

Harry Rutledge was born on 11 March 1891 to William Forster Rutledge and his wife Jane Ruth, née Morphy. The Rutledges were a prominent grazing family from Bungendore in New South Wales, and Harry’s grandfather had been one of the first settlers in the district.

Popularly known as “Pat”, Harry Rutledge was educated at the King’s School, Goulburn, and the King’s School, Parramatta, where he was the recipient of a scholarship in 1909. He was a fine athlete, excelling in shooting, cricket, and football.

After finishing school, Rutledge went jackarooing in Queensland. He returned to manage the family property, “Gidleigh”, not long after war had been declared, when his older brother, Tom, enlisted with the 7th Light Horse Regiment. Harry was also eager to enlist, but was delayed until January 1916 while he recovered from a farm accident: a gun had discharged in his hand, and he lost a finger as a result.

After enlisting, Harry Rutledge was attached to the 28th Battery, 7th Field Artillery Brigade. He embarked for active service overseas in May 1916, rising from corporal to second lieutenant in August. His unit travelled to England before proceeding to France, arriving early in 1917.

Rutledge was promoted to lieutenant in March 1917. On 9 October 1917 the 7th Field Artillery Brigade was supporting the Australian 2nd Division’s attack near the small Belgian village of Passchendaele. It was part of the main British offensive in Belgium that year, known as the Third Battle of Ypres.

That morning Rutledge was acting as the forward observing officer for his brigade’s 107th Howitzer Battery when he was hit by a shell and died instantly. Major Marfell, the officer commanding the 107th Howitzer Battery, said: “He was a fine soldier and when he went the battery suffered a serious loss. I miss him personally very much as he was my right hand man and a solid friend.”

Marfell reported that Rutledge was buried “near a place called Tyne cottage by the Battery telephonists”. He now has a grave at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery in Belgium. He was 26 years old.

Rutledge’s family continued to serve during the war. Tom Rutledge was Mentioned in Despatches while serving in France with the 2nd Pioneer Battalion, and from April 1918 he commanded the 4th Pioneer Battalion and was confirmed as lieutenant-colonel about a month before the war ended. Harry Rutledge’s aunt Alice Chisholm was made a dame for her war work: from 1916 she established canteens throughout Egypt and Sinai–Palestine that nurtured and fed hundreds of thousands of men of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

After the war the Rutledge family had a stained-glass window installed in St Philip’s Anglican Church in Bungendore in honour of their beloved Pat. They also planted an avenue of chestnut trees as a memorial to the 14 men from “Gidleigh” station who had enlisted.

Lieutenant Harry Rutledge’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 Lieutenant Harry Rutledge, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Emma Campbell
Researcher, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Harry Forster Rutledge, 7th Brigade, Australian Field Artillery, First World War. (video)