The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1055) Private Thomas Edward Latham, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.245
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 02 September 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 Charis May, the story for this day was on (1055) Private Thomas Edward Latham, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

1055 Private Thomas Edward Latham, 2nd Battalion, AIF
KIA 4 May 1917, aged 43

Story delivered 2 September 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Thomas Edward Latham.

Thomas Latham was born in the village of Dymchurch in Kent, England, about 1874, the third child of Thomas and Isabella Latham. His father was a boatman with Her Majesty’s coast guard. Thomas came to Australia when he was 11 years old. In 1897 he married Martha Bassett in Hay, New South Wales, and the couple went on to have two children, Eileen and Edward. The family lived on properties at Whitton and Tottenham before taking up a block in the Lansdale district, where Thomas worked as a grazier.

Thomas Latham enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in April 1916. Aged 42, he was near the top end of the age restrictions on enlistment, but passed the medical examination with no problems and was accepted for active service. After training for service with the trench mortars, Latham transferred to the infantry and left Sydney on the troopship Euripides in September 1916.

Private Latham arrived in France to fight on the Western Front in March 1917, joining his battalion in the field on 1 April. Just over a month later the 2nd Battalion was called into the front line near the French village of Bullecourt; Private Latham served as a Lewis machine-gunner in C Company. On 3 May they were moved into position under heavy shelling, and later formed a defensive flank against a German counter attack. The following day B and D Companies of the 2nd Battalion attacked to the east before the battalion was relieved.

As the other half of his battalion conducted the attack, Private Latham was struck by fragments from an artillery shell and knocked unconscious. His friend who was serving as a stretcher bearer was able to bandage him up, but Latham died in the field before he could be evacuated. There was a report that he had been buried in the trench in which he died, but because the 2nd Battalion was relieved shortly after Latham’s death, his grave was lost, and today he has no known resting place. His name is instead inscribed on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

His name is also 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 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 Private Thomas Edward Latham, who his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Unit

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1055) Private Thomas Edward Latham, 2nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)