The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2037) Private Arthur Edward Wheatley, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.193
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 12 July 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 Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

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 Greg Kimball, the story for this day was on (2037) Private Arthur Edward Wheatley, 9th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

2037 Private Arthur Edward Wheatley, 9th Battalion, AIF
Died of wounds 21 April 1916

Story delivered 12 July 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Arthur Edward Wheatley.

Arthur Edward Wheatley was born in 1894 in Glenreagh, New South Wales, to James and Isabella Bowles. Arthur’s father abandoned his family soon after Arthur’s birth, and disappeared from their lives. Arthur was raised by his mother in Grafton. He attended Grafton Public School before becoming a farmer.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Arthur enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, using his mother’s maiden name, at Grafton on 12 January 1915. After his initial training, he was allotted to reinforcements to the 9th Battalion.

He embarked from Brisbane in April aboard the transport ship Kyarra, bound for Egypt. He spent a short time in Egypt before joining the 9th Battalion on Gallipoli on 22 June.

Wheatley spent the next few months in and out of the front line in the southern sector of Anzac. The poor food and water, combined with unsanitary conditions, took a toll on his health and he began suffering from dysentery in August.

His condition worsened, and in early November he was evacuated to Malta. After some rest and recuperation, he returned to Egypt and re–joined the 9th Battalion in early March 1916. At the end of the month, the 9th Battalion sailed for France.

By the 19th of April, the battalion was in reserve billets near Rouge-de-Bout, a mile behind the front line near Armentières, with intermittent artillery fire landing nearby.

Early in the afternoon of 20 April, the battalion’s C Company billets were heavily shelled. One shell landed outside a canvas tent, wounding four soldiers. As men went to assist, another shell landed amongst them, killing several and wounding others. Another shell hit a brick wall of a nearby billet, causing a further 47 casualties. C Company was decimated: 25 men were killed and 50 were wounded. Among the wounded was Wheatley, who received a shrapnel wound to the chest.

He was taken to the 7th Casualty Clearing Station, but his wound proved mortal, and he died on the 21st of April. He was laid to rest in the Merville Communal Cemetery that day. He was 22 years old.

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 Arthur Edward Wheatley, 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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