The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5882) Private Ernest Edward Morley, 21st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.199
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 18 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

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 Sharon Bown, the story for this day was on (5882) Private Ernest Edward Morley, 21st Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

5882 Private Ernest Edward Morley, 21st Battalion, AIF
DOW: 14 May 1917

Story delivered 18 July 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Ernest Morley.

Known to friends and family as “Ted”, Ernest Edward Morley was born on 1 April 1889 in Gormandale, Victoria, to Jesse and Sarah Morley. His father died when he was around eight years old, and his mother remained in Gormandale and raised a large family.

Ernest attended Gormandale State School, and after leaving school worked as a labourer.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Ernest Morley began a relationship with Doris Thelma Stevens and, though not married, she took on the Morley name. Together they had three children – two boys and a girl – the youngest of whom was just a baby when Morley enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 22 April 1916.

After initial training, Morley was allotted to reinforcements to the 21st Battalion. He embarked from Melbourne on the 2nd October aboard the transport ship Nestor, bound for England.

After spending the winter of 1916–17 in training, Morley joined the 21st Battalion in France in February. March saw the battalion involved in operations pursuing the German army as they moved toward the prepared defences of the Hindenburg Line. April was mostly spent in training and on work parties, but by the end of the month, the battalion was in the front line in front of Riencourt.

On 3 May, the 21st Battalion took part in the second battle of Bullecourt. During the latter part of the day, Morley was severely wounded in his left thigh.

He was evacuated to a casualty clearing station, and from there was sent by ambulance train to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen.

By this time he arrived at hospital on 6 May his wounds had turned septic. Despite best efforts, his condition slowly deteriorated, and he died at 12.50 pm on 14 May. He was laid to rest in St Sever Cemetery extension. He was 29 years old.

The war years were unkind to the Morley family. Five siblings died of ill health in Australia, Private George Morley was killed in France in early August 1916 while fighting with the 26th Battalion, and Trooper Robert Herbert Morley was killed during the 4th Light Horse Regiment’s attack on Beersheba on 31 October 1917.

Ernest Morley’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 Ernest Edward Morley, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5882) Private Ernest Edward Morley, 21st Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)