The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (374) Gunner George Byrne, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.21
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 21 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 Dennis Stockman, the story for this day was on (374) Gunner George Byrne, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

374 Gunner George Byrne, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, AIF
DOW 29 March 1918

Today we remember and pay tribute to Gunner George Byrne

George Byrne was born on 7 December 1893 at Port Pirie, South Australia, to James and Jane Byrne. He grew up in Port Pirie and attended the local school, but by the time the First World War began, he had moved to Newcastle in New South Wales, where he was working as a labourer.

Byrne enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force on 18 July 1915. After initially being posted as a reinforcement to the 13th Battalion, he was sent to join the 30th Battalion, which had just been raised in Liverpool.

Byrne left Sydney with his battalion on 9 November aboard the transport ship Beltana, bound for the desert training camps in Egypt.

Here Byrne came into some conflict with the authorities. In January 1916 he was charged for being insolent to a non-commissioned officer and was confined to barracks. Two days later, he was charged for being absent without leave from his defaulters’ parade. He was sentenced to 28 days detention with hard labour.

Byrne returned to the 30th Battalion in mid-February. The following month, he transferred to the artillery and was posted to the 57th Battery, 15th Field Artillery Brigade. After training for his new role, he sailed to France with his unit in June, seeing service on the Western Front throughout the remainder of 1916, including at Pozières in July and August.
In January 1917, Byrne transferred to the 8th Battery, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. In April, he was sent to hospital with an injury to his left ankle which had turned septic. He did not rejoin his unit until the end of May.

During a rest period in early July, Byrne went absent without leave for a day. He was given 72 Hours Field Punishment Number 2 and fined five day’s pay.
Throughout July and August, Byrne and his unit were involved in the 3rd Ypres campaign in Belgium.

In early September, Byrne reported sick to hospital with a skin complaint. He was sent to hospital in France and did not return to his unit until late December 1917.
The Germans launched their spring offensive in March 1918. The 3rd Field Artillery Battery came in for some heavy attention from German artillery, which constantly shelled the Australian battery positions with high explosive shells and various forms of gas.

On the night of 28 March, a particularly heavy bombardment fell on the 8th Battery positions. Byrne was among a group of men who took cover in a pill-box; soon after, the Germans fired gas shells into the area.

One of these shells landed among the men in the pill box, causing many casualties, including George Byrne. He was taken to the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station, where he died from gas poisoning. At least 11 other men also died in the same way.

George Byrne was laid to rest in the Outteersteene Communal Cemetery Extansion at Bailleul. He was 24 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 Gunner George Byrne, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Michael Kelly
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (374) Gunner George Byrne, 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, First World War. (video)