The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (86) Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird, 1st Division Signals Company, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.9
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 9 January 2018
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (86) Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird, 1st Division Signals Company, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

86 Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird, 1st Division Signals Company, AIF
KIA 3 June 1915

Story delivered 9 January 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird.

Known to friends and family as “Ned”, Edgar Bird was born on 30 December 1889 to John and Mary Bird. His father had come to Australia in the gold rushes of the mid-nineteenth century, and had been in Ballarat during the time of the Eureka Stockade. He later kept the Pyrenees Hotel in Lexton, Victoria, where Edgar was born. The family moved to Warregal in New South Wales when Edgar was a boy, and later settled on the land at Fifield near Trundle.
Edgar Bird was educated at the local school, and worked in various business and telephone-related jobs before taking up land at Murgon in Queensland. He was the captain of the Cloyna Rifle Club on the outbreak of war, and was considered one of Murgon’s best shots.

Bird enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914. He was so keen to do his duty that he convinced all the eligible members of the Cloyna Rifle Club to enlist “almost in a body”. He was posted to the 1st Divisional Signal Company and left Australia for active service overseas with the first contingent.

Bird first went to Egypt to continue training, and later began preparations for the landing on Gallipoli. Bird and his mate, Sapper Harry Marshall, trained together. Marshall later wrote, “When we were told, we used to sit for hours with our heads together working out things” in order to be prepared for the landing.

Sapper Bird’s section landed on Gallipoli at 4 am on 25 April 1915, becoming the first of the signallers ashore. Some of the men got out of the boat in deep water. When Marshall got out, the water came up to his middle, and Bird lost his rifle when someone threw it out into deep water. He ran along the beach and grabbed the rifle of the first dead man he saw. Bird and Marshall were picked to run the first telephone cable on Gallipoli, carrying a mile of wire each across their shoulders. Marshall later wrote, “We were very proud of it, I can tell you”.

Marshall continued the story: “We left our base operator on the beach and took to the cliffs among the prickly bushes and shrubs. The perspiration poured out of us … and the climbing was very hard.” After several hours’ hard work he, Bird, and another man were sent back to pick up more cable. As they went, Marshall was wounded, and Bird said to him, “I’m glad you’re hit, because now we can send you out of this hell”. Marshall was evacuated, leaving Sapper Bird on Gallipoli.

Sapper Marshall returned to Gallipoli in early June and caught up with his mate Edgar Bird. The next night Bird was sent out to repair a telephone line when his party came under artillery fire. Bird and another man were killed in a single blast. Marshall later wrote, “I miss Ned very much, for we always worked together, and he was my landing companion. One cannot express on paper how one feels.”

Edgar Bird was 25 years old.

Today his body lies in the cemetery at Shell Green, Gallipoli.

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 Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (86) Sapper Edgar Ernest Bird, 1st Division Signals Company, AIF, First World War. (video)