The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4977) Private Bertie Clarence Bartlett, 17th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.282
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 09 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 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 (4977) Private Bertie Clarence Bartlett, 17th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

4977 Private Bertie Clarence Bartlett, 17th Battalion, AIF
KIA 9 October 1917
Photograph: P07382.002

Story delivered 9 October 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Bertie Clarence Bartlett.

Bertie Clarence Bartlett was born in 1892 at Parkes, New South Wales, the son of Annie and Owen Bartlett. Known to family and friends as “Bert”, he attended the local public school before going on to work as a labourer.

At the age of 23, Bartlett had spent all of his life in the Parkes district. Like many young men of the time, he would have found the idea of joining the Great War exciting. When the Boomerang recruitment march started in his home town, the opportunity was too great to pass up. He enlisted into the Australian Imperial Force on 17 January 1916 in Parkes, before making his way through country New South Wales with the rest of the Boomerangs, and arriving to great fanfare in Bathurst soon after.

After several months training at the new Bathurst Showground Military Camp, in June 1916 Bartlett left Sydney aboard the transport ship Kyarra with reinforcements for the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion. He became known by the nickname “Bluey”, given to him on account of his bright red hair.

Bartlett arrived in England in August 1916, and trained with his unit in camps on the Salisbury Plain. While in England, he was able to meet up with his older brother, Owen. Owen had served at Gallipoli, but was now in hospital recovering from wounds sustained on the Western Front. Once he recovered, he would join Bertie and serve together in the same company of the 17th Battalion.

Bertie Bartlett joined the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion in the trenches at Ribemont, spending his first months on the Western Front in the freezing conditions of the bitterest European winter in living memory.
On 3 February 1917, the 17th Battalion was manning the trenches at Le Sars. At 9.15 am the Germans launched a heavy barrage of high explosive, shrapnel, mortar, and gas artillery fire, followed by a raid on the Australian trenches. The troops of the 17th Battalion were able to push their attackers back with machine-gun fire, but Bartlett was severely wounded by shrapnel when a shell exploded behind him. He was sent to England for recovery, and was not able to rejoin his unit for over six months.

A month after his return to the trenches, on 20 September 1917, his battalion participated in the Battle of Menin Road. After an intense artillery barrage, the advancing soldiers encountered bitter fighting, facing concrete pillboxes and fierce German counter-attacks. While the attack was successful, there were over 5,000 Australian casualties.

In the early hours of the morning of 9 October 1917, Bertie Bartlett, his brother Owen, and the other men of C Company of the 17th Australian Infantry Battalion moved into position for the battle of Poelcappelle. After waiting in horrendous muddy conditions during the artillery bombardment of the German lines, the attack began, and they ran from their trenches into no man’s land.

As Private Bertie Bartlett leapt out of the trench, he received a bullet wound to the head, dying instantly. He was 24 years old.

His older brother, Lance Corporal Owen Bartlett, was severely wounded by shrapnel during the advance. Found lying injured on the battlefield, he was evacuated to hospital, but died of his wounds six days later.
Today, Bertie Bartlett’s remains lie in Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, alongside nearly 12,000 Commonwealth soldiers who died during the First World War.

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 Bertie Clarence Bartlett, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

David Sutton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4977) Private Bertie Clarence Bartlett, 17th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)