The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2042) Private Maurice Joseph Curran, 36th Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, First World War

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.284
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 11 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 Greg Kimball, the story for this day was on (2042) Private Maurice Joseph Curran, 36th Australian Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force, First World War

Speech transcript

2042 Private Maurice Joseph Curran, 36th Battalion, AIF
KIA 12 October 1917
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 11 October 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Maurice Joseph Curran.

Maurice Curran was born on 11 October 1887 to the large family of Michael and Jane Curran of Coolamon in the Riverina region of New South Wales.
When the First World War began in August 1914, Maurice Curran was working as a farmer.

His younger brother, Leslie, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as part of the Kangaroos recruitment march, which trekked from Wagga Wagga to Sydney in late 1915, and joined the 55th Battalion.

Another younger brother, John (known as “Jack”), who was working as a blacksmith, then enlisted in late March, marrying his sweetheart Delia before joining the 36th Battalion.

Maurice followed suit and enlisted the following month. Like Jack, he was allotted to the 36th Battalion, the bulk of whose recruits had been enlisted during a recruiting drive conducted amongst rifle clubs by the New South Wales Minister for Public Information, Ambrose Carmichael. The battalion became known as “Carmichael’s Thousand”, and Carmichael led by example, enlisting and serving in the battalion as a captain.

Private Maurice Curran left Sydney in late August, bound for the training camps in England with reinforcements for Carmichael’s Thousand.
After a brief period with the 9th Training Battalion in Larkhill, Maurice Curran joined the 36th Battalion in late November as it crossed to France. The battalion moved into the trenches of the Western Front for
the first time in early December, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916 and 1917.

Curran was in hospital with an injury to his eye in May, but rejoined his unit the following month, when it took part in the battle of Messines. Nineteen powerful mines were exploded under the German trenches along Messines ridge, and Australian troops attacked just south of Messines village. Although fighting continued, the result was decided by the end of the first evening, with the ridge being taken and enemy counter-attacks repulsed.

On 21 July Maurice Curran was wounded in action, receiving a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was back with his unit by the end of end of month, and was in the same Lewis gun team as his brother Jack.

On 11 October, Maurice Curran turned 30. There was little time for celebration, as his battalion’s next major battle began early the following morning near Passchendaele. Heavy rain had deluged the battlefield, and thick mud tugged at the advancing troops and fouled their weapons. The battalion secured its objective, a station on the Ypres-Menin line, but with open flanks and ineffective artillery support, was forced to withdraw.

Among those not to return was Private Maurice Curran. He was in a shell hole with his Lewis gun team when a high explosive shell fell amongst them, killing four. His brother Jack survived, but might have cursed his luck as he buried his brother’s body near where it fell.

Maurice Curran was 30 years old.

His grave was lost during later fighting, and today he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, along with some 6,000 Australian soldiers who died in Belgium and who have no known grave.

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 Maurice Joseph
Curran, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard, Editor
Military History Section

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