The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6580) Private Lionel Summers, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.280
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 07 October 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 Michael Kelly, the story for this day was on (6580) Private Lionel Summers, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6580 Private Lionel Summers, 5th Battalion, AIF
DOW 10 August 1918
Photograph: DA16357

Story delivered 7 October 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Lionel Eric Summers.

Lionel Summers was born in 1898, one of five children of Ernest and Marion Summers of the Melbourne suburb of Malvern. Known as “Eric” by his family and friends, he attended Malvern State School and paraded with the 47B Senior Cadets at the local drill hall. Following his education, he worked as a clerk for the Cater, Patterson & Co.
leather-goods makers in their temporary offices on Flinders Lane.

Summers enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1916, a few months after his 18th birthday. After three months training at Broadmeadows Camp, where he attended signalling school, Private Summers embarked for the training camps in England with a reinforcement group for the 5th Battalion.
In England, Summers was attached to the 2nd Training Brigade at Fovant on Salisbury Plain, where for the next twelve months he applied his civilian trade as a clerk, training fresh reinforcements arriving from Australia for the rigours and routine of the fighting in France. Other than being reprimanded for using a false identification pass to secure temporary leave, his time in England was uneventful.

Summers sailed for France in December 1917 in the wake of the third battle of Ypres, during which the 5th Battalion had suffered heavy casualties. The 5th Battalion stayed behind the line near Kemmel on the 2nd Training Brigade at Franco-Belgian border until March – when the German army launched a major offensive intended to split the British and French armies on the Somme. The 1st Division, of which the 5th Battalion was part, was sent for the next three months to the nearby town of Strazeele, where it defended the rail network against the threat of a German offensive in the area.

Summers was hospitalised with influenza, and spent most of July 1918 recovering. He returned to the 5th Battalion at one of the most critical stages of the war. When the German offensive petered out, the AIF joined the British Army in its preparations for a major counter-offensive, intending to break through German lines near the town of Villers-Bretonneux. Beginning on 8 August 1918, the battle of Amiens marked the last 100 days of the fighting on the Western Front.

Attacking in support of the 7th Brigade just east of the town of Harbonnières, the 5th Battalion advanced alongside a number of British tanks that drew artillery fire as they approached the position known as the Red Line. Once they had reached their objectives, the infantry were engaged by German machine-guns, which inflicted a heavy toll. The Red Line was secured by Australian troops later that morning, but it came at a heavy price, with 80 men of the 5th Battalion killed or wounded.

Among the wounded was Lionel Summers, suffering from gunshot wounds to his head. He was evacuated through a number of aid posts and dressing stations to the 61st Casualty Clearance Station at Vignacourt, where he died the following day. Aged 20 at the time of his death, he was buried at the cemetery at Vignacourt. A small inscription
3
chosen by his grieving parents for his headstone states simply, “Our Hero”.

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 Lionel Eric Summers, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6580) Private Lionel Summers, 5th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)