The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Lieutenant Harold Alexander Munro Gray, 5th Battalion, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.358
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 24 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 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on Lieutenant Harold Alexander Munro Gray, 5th Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

Lieutenant Harold Alexander Munro Gray, 5th Battalion
KIA 25 July 1916, aged 20

Story delivered 24 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lieutenant Harold Alexander Munro Gray.

Harold Gray was born on 17 August 1895 to Alex and Gerte Gray. Although born in Murtoa, a small wheat district town some 300 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, he grew up in Melbourne, where his father was on the teaching staff of the Church of England Grammar School. Young Gray was an active member of the local cadets, and went on to study at the Royal Military College at Duntroon, where he was among the first to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war.

Gray was only 19 when he enlisted, and was considered too young to become an officer. But he proved to be an able and steady soldier, and rose quickly to the rank of corporal within the 5th Battalion. He was with the battalion as it landed on Gallipoli as part of the second wave and continued to gain positive attention through his service on the peninsula.

In May 1915 he was commissioned as second lieutenant. Although he was evacuated with gastro enteritis in July and spent some time in hospital, Gray served for a total of seven months on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Shortly after the evacuation in December 1915 he was hospitalised again with paratyphoid, but returned to his battalion in time to arrive in France with them in March 1916.

The first major action of the 5th Battalion came during the Battle of Pozières in July 1916. While the battalion did not participate in the initial operation to capture the southern part of the French village, it was soon called into the front lines to push the advantage and capture the remaining portion of the village.

On 25 July 1916 Lieutenant Gray, serving as Intelligence Officer for the 5th Battalion, was sent into no man’s land by battalion commander
Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Le Maistre to obtain important information. While Gray was forward of the front-line trench, the Germans counter-attacked. Caught by machine-gun fire, Gray was killed instantly.

Le Maistre wrote to Alex Gray after his son’s death, writing “he was just due for his promotion to captain and had been specially mentioned for his good work as battalion intelligence officer several times. He will prove a very difficult man to replace, and his loss is deeply regretted throughout the battalion. When I reported his death to our general, he but voiced my opinion when he said ‘What! Gray gone; he is a loss indeed’.”

Harold Gray’s body was never recovered from the battlefield. He was 20 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 Lieutenant Harold Alexander Munro Gray, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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