The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (256) Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins, 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2017.1.345
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 December 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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (256) Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins, 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, First World War.

Speech transcript

256 Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins, 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train
KIA 6 September 1915

Story delivered 11 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Chief Petty Officer Edward Perkins.

Known as “Ted” to family and friends, Edward Perkins was born on 5 March 1894 in Melbourne, one of seven children born to Harry and Emma Perkins. Young Edward attended Essendon State School, after which he became an apprentice farrier, working for R.J. Laughlin of North Melbourne.

Perkins joined the navy on 12 April 1915 in Melbourne. His prior experience with the Citizen Forces engineers and the Essendon Rifles meant he was a valuable asset to his unit – the 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train. He was immediately made Chief Petty Officer (Farrier) and was one of the few men in the unit with horse handling experience.

On 4 June 1915 Perkins and the rest of the bridging train left Australia on the transport ship Port Macquarie. Originally bound for England, after six weeks the group was diverted to Gallipoli for the coming offensive.

Reaching Imbros island in late July, Perkins and his comrades trained constructing pontoon-bridges and piers – the main task they would face on Gallipoli during the coming August Offensive. While Australian troops launched diversionary attacks, the Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train would be sent further north to Suvla Bay, where a mainly British force was to land.

They began landing on 8 August and immediately began constructing pontoon piers on the beach, and managing the unloading and distribution of stores, including vital water supplies.

Perkins and his comrades carried out their jobs over the next month with great skill and determination, and were highly regarded by their British and dominion comrades. However, the bridging train’s base at Kangaroo Point was an important supply point, and the men frequently had to work under aircraft and artillery fire.

During the early morning of 6 September, Kangaroo Point was heavily shelled by the Turks. Edward Perkins was killed outright by a direct hit on his dug-out.

Able Seaman Laurie Smee wrote in his diary, “This has been a sorrowful day for all hands”, and Lieutenant Legg reflected that the loss of such a “fine young fellow”, was his “saddest experience”.

Perkins’s body was buried in Kangaroo Point Cemetery, but was later reinterred to Hill 10 Cemetery in Suvla Bay.

Back home in Melbourne, family and friends grieved. On the first anniversary of Perkins’s death his family published in memoriam notices in The Argus newspaper, including the epitaph:

Though the waves of ocean divide us,
And you sleep on a foreign shore,
Remembrance is a relic,
That will last for evermore.

Edward Perkins was 21 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 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 Chief Petty Officer Edward Perkins, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Craig Tibbitts
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (256) Chief Petty Officer Edward Charles Perkins, 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, First World War. (video)