|Object type||Last Post film|
Australian War Memorial
|Place made||Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell|
|Date made||6 January 2018|
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
|Copying Provisions||Copy provided for personal non-commercial use|
The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3012) Corporal William Henry Brougham, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
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 , the story for this day was on (3012) Corporal William Henry Brougham, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War.
3012 Corporal William Henry Brougham, 49th Battalion, AIF
KIA 3 September 1916
Story delivered 6 January 2018
Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal William Henry Brougham.
Fondly known as “Billy”, William Brougham was born in Childers, Queensland in October 1887, one of seven children born to Edward and Ellen Brougham. Brougham’s parents had a tumultuous relationship, as Edward’s violence toward Ellen forced her out of the house on occasion. In 1904 Edward left the family, and appears to have had little else to do with his children. William was educated at the Apple Tree Creek School before going on to become a motor mechanic. He was a popular figure in Bundaberg and the Isis district of Queensland.
Brougham enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1915. He was posted to the 9th Battalion and left Brisbane for active service overseas on 5 October 1915. He first travelled to Egypt, where the AIF was undergoing a process of reorganisation and expansion. As part of this process, Private Brougham was posted to the newly-formed 49th Battalion. By mid-March 1916 he had been promoted to lance corporal.
Lance Corporal Brougham continued training in Egypt until early June, when he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front. The 49th Battalion fought its first major battle near the French village of Pozières in August, suffering heavily casualties. Brougham wrote, “We were very lucky the last place we were in ... Just got out of our possy when a shell knocked it to pieces. It would have no doubt killed ten of us, so sometimes a man’s luck is in.” Brougham proved such an able soldier during the operation that he was promoted to corporal.
A short time later, on 3 September 1916, the 49th Battalion was called on to participate in an operation to attack Mouquet Farm to the north of Pozières. It would be 1st Anzac Corps’ last attack in the area. The battalion managed to capture several of its objectives, suffering heavy casualties in the process, although the operation as a whole ultimately failed.
Corporal Brougham’s last letter home read, “I suppose by the time this reaches you many of us will be blown out”. It proved prophetic. Sometime during 3 September 1916 Corporal William Brougham was killed in action. Little is known of the exact manner of his death, but his body was recovered from the battlefield and buried nearby. He is now buried in the Courcelette British Cemetery in France under the words, “In memory of our dearly loved son & brother; Lord have mercy on him.”
He was 28 years old.
In Australia the loss of Billy Brougham was keenly felt. Newspapers reported, “It seems but yesterday that he was with us in all the pride of manly vigour – a smart, soldierly figure and a credit to the uniform he wore … The news that he is no more will be received with unfeigned regret.” Nobody missed him more than his mother and siblings, however, who commissioned a “splendid monument” which was erected in the Apple Tree Creek cemetery, with an inscription that reads;
We in sorrow cried
Of our hero we were proud
He helped to build his country’s name
And, trying, died to bring her fame.
Corporal William Brougham’s 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 Corporal William Henry Brougham, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3012) Corporal William Henry Brougham, 49th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)