The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (7486) Private Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, 10th Battalion, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.195
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 14 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (7486) Private Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, 10th Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

7486 Private Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, 10th Battalion
DOW 9 May 1918

Story delivered 14 July 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Thomas Fitzgerald.

Known to friends and family as “Tom”, Thomas Henry Fitzgerald was born in 1890 in Port Adelaide, South Australia, the second-born son of John and Annie Fitzgerald. Thomas attended Sisters of St Josephs and Marist Brothers schools in Adelaide, and went on to work as a clerk at the Colonial Sugar Refinery at Glanville.

In September 1917, Thomas Fitzgerald enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Adelaide. After a period of training at Mitcham and Cheltenham Camps, he sailed for England with a reinforcement group for the 10th Battalion. After several months training on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, he embarked for France and joined the 10th Battalion at the village of Vignacourt on the Somme.

Fitzgerald had joined the battalion at one of the most critical periods of the war. Several weeks earlier, German troops had launched a major offensive on the Western Front that succeeded in breaking the deadlock of trench warfare, and threatened the vital supply and transport hub of Amiens. If Amiens fell to the Germans, the British and French armies would be severed along the Somme River.

The Australians were spared the heaviest fighting during the offensive, but managed to blunt the German advance. Over the following weeks, their task was to establish a number of defensive positions around Amiens in preparation for the allies’ own counter offensive.

One of those defensive positions lay to the north at the rail juncture at Strazeele. Here the 10th Battalion spent the following weeks preparing for further German attacks. The 10th Battalion rotated in and out of the line over the following weeks, carrying out a rigorous regimen of patrolling and raiding when it occupied frontline positions.

Around 2 am on the morning of 9 May 1918, Fitzgerald’s platoon was moving up the line to relieve the 12th Battalion when they were engaged by German machine-gun fire. Fitzgerald was badly wounded on the legs and the side. He was evacuated through a series of aid posts and dressing stations, but succumbed to his wounds later that day.

He was buried at the Ebblinghem Military Cemetery.
He was 28 years old.

Thomas Fitzgerald’s older brother, Bill, had also enlisted in the AIF. He survived the war, but was seriously wounded in the fighting near Armentières in May 1917 and spent many years recovering in the Keswick Military Hospital after his return to Australia.

Thomas Fitzgerald’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 Private Thomas Fitzgerald, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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