The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (487) Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.26
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 26 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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

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 (487) Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

487 Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson, 22nd Battalion, AIF
KIA 4 August 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson.

Known as “Tony”, Anthony Watson was the youngest son of Anthony and Catherine Watson of Kyneton, Victoria. His father worked a farm at South Kyneton, and in mining at Fryer’s Creek. Tony attended the Edgecombe State School, and went on to train as a carpenter. Like his father, he also worked as a farmer in the local area. In November 1912 his father died, and the following year his mother was injured while driving through pouring rain to vote in the May 1913 federal election. She never really recovered from the accident, and died in early 1915.

A few weeks after his mother’s death, Tony Watson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He was posted to the 22nd Battalion, and after a short period of training, left Australia on board the troopship Ulysses.

Watson arrived on the Gallipoli Peninsula around August 1915. He proved an able soldier, and was promoted to lance corporal in early September. By mid-September, however, he was too ill to remain on the battlefield, and was evacuated with pneumonia. He was first sent to hospital in Malta, and later to England, taking several months to fully recover. He finally rejoined his battalion in Egypt in March 1916.

One week after Watson returned to the 22nd Battalion, it was transferred to France to fight on the Western Front. The first major action of the battalion came near the French village of Pozières. After playing a supporting role during the attack that captured the village on 23 July 1916, the 22nd Battalion entered the front line in early August, and on the 4th of that month were ordered to attack a number of German positions to the north. The battalion made some gains, but suffered extremely heavy casualties.

More than 140 men were listed as missing after the attack, including Lance Corporal Tony Watson. An investigating officer could find no information regarding his fate, reporting that “it seems that the section he was in attacked a part of the enemy’s line which was very thick with enemy soldiers, and there can be little doubt that he died in action like so many of his comrades. I am sorry to be able to give no further definite information”. A court of enquiry later formalised the finding that Watson had been killed in action.

He was 30 years old.

In Australia it was reported that Watson “was an ideal soldier, and there is none that knew him that will not deeply regret that he has fallen. [They will] feel the deepest of sympathy for his bereaved relatives who, after so many months of cruel uncertainty, are now called upon to mourn the losing of one who was in every way so worthy of their affectionate love[. Tony Watson] proved himself in every sphere of life – whether as a son, brother or citizen – every inch a true man.”

In 1926, during the course of exhumation work around the village of Pozières, a Lance Corporal Watson’s body was finally recovered from the battlefield, a decade after his death. His remains were buried in the AIF Burial Ground at Grass Lane, Flers. His watch, chain and identity disc were recovered from his body and returned to his eldest living brother, Charles. The news of the recovery of the body, it was reported, “has been received by the relatives with feelings of relief”.

Anthony Watson’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 Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson, 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 (487) Lance Corporal Anthony Albert Watson, 22nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)