The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6289) Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, 13th Field Company, Australian Engineers, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.96
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 06 April 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 Mathew Rose, the story for this day was on (6289) Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, 13th Field Company, Australian Engineers, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6289 Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, 13th Field Company, Australian Engineers, AIF
KIA 7 April 1917

Story delivered 6 April 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sapper Charles Finn.

Charles Arthur Finn was born in 1888 to Dennis and Eliza Finn of Canowindra, New South Wales. He attended St Joseph’s Convent School at Peak Hill. Following his education he became a blacksmith in Gilgandra. He was tall and red-haired, which automatically earned him the nickname “Bluey”.

In October 1915 Finn joined the Coo-ee March, the first of a series of “snowball marches”. These recruitment drives were called snowball marches because it was hoped that they would gather recruits as they went, like a snowball rolling down a hill. The Coo-ee March was the brainchild of Captain Bill Hitchen, under whose command the group of men, including Charles Finn, left Gilgandra on the 300-mile march to enlist in Sydney.

Finn successfully enlisted on 9 October 1915 and was posted to the 1st Field Company of Australian Engineers. After a period of training in Australia, he was sent to Egypt, and from there to England, to continue his training. Finn was finally transferred to the 13th Field Company of the Australian Engineers and sent to fight on the Western Front in August 1916.

In late November of that year, as the winter drew in, Finn was sent to hospital suffering from influenza. Further health problems kept him in hospitals or rest camps until late February 1917. He finally rejoined his unit in the field in mid-March.

In early 1917 the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, a carefully prepared, strong series of trenches. As they went, they hid mines in wells and buildings. In early April 1917 Finn was a member of a section billeted in the French village of Vaulx-Vraucourt, where they were locating mines in wells and repairing them. Finn and Lance Corporal John Maxwell Shepherd were taking detonators out of an unexploded mine when an artillery shell landed nearby. It set off the mine, and both men were killed instantaneously. Charles Finn was 29 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War. His photograph is displayed today 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 Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6289) Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, 13th Field Company, Australian Engineers, AIF, First World War. (video)