The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1390) Private Herbert James Haslam, 29th Battalion, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Fromelles
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.18
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 18 January 2018
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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (1390) Private Herbert James Haslam, 29th Battalion, First World War.

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Speech transcript

1390 Private Herbert James Haslam, 29th Battalion
KIA 19 July 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Herbert James Haslam.

Familiarly known as “Bert”, Herbert Haslam was one of five children of Thomas and Jemima Haslam of North Carlton, Victoria. His father was a bank officer, and for many years a well-known local bowler and captain of the Williamstown Cricket Club’s second eleven. Thomas Haslam was known to be “a most undemonstrative man”, and perhaps for that reason we know little of his son’s early life. We do know, however, that he followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a bank teller when he finished school.

Haslam enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915, and after a period of training in Australia, was posted to the 29th Battalion. He left Melbourne on the troopship Ascanius on 10 November 1915, and was sent to Egypt, where he continued training. From Egypt he was sent on to France, arriving in June 1916.

Just over a month after arriving in France to fight on the Western Front, the 29th Battalion was called into action near the French village of Fromelles. The operation was a disaster, with Australian forces suffering the heaviest casualties sustained by the Australian military in a 24-hour period. More than 5,530 men were killed, wounded, or missing. The 29th Battalion had had some success in capturing the German trenches, but 12 hours after capturing them, the men were forced back to their own lines for want of ammunition and water.

One of those who failed to return was Private Herbert Haslam. There were vague reports that he had been killed by an artillery shell. Soon after the battle it was confirmed that he had been killed in action when his identification disc was returned to the AIF by German authorities who had retrieved the disc from Haslam’s body before burying him.
Herbert Haslam was 26 years old.

In 2009 a mass grave was located in Pheasant Wood close to the site of the battle. This grave had been used by the Germans to bury British and Australian dead following the battle, and the grave had been missed in the years following the war when battlefield cemeteries were constructed and formalised.

In 2011 Private Bert Haslam’s body was identified using DNA testing. It now lies in the newly-constructed Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Fromelles.
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 Private Herbert James Haslam, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Unit

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