The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5081) Sapper Charles Lofts, 12th Field Company Engineers, 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 Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (5081) Sapper Charles Lofts, 12th Field Company Engineers, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

5081 Sapper Charles Lofts, 12th Field Company Engineers
DOW 13 February 1918

Story delivered 13 February 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Sapper Charles Lofts.

Charles Lofts was born in 1891, one of nine children of Henry and Mary-Ann Lofts who lived at Granite Hill, near the small town of Lexton in western Victoria. Known to his family and friends as “Charlie”, he attended Lexton State Primary School before working as the local blacksmith in the years before the First World War.

Lofts enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in Mildura in July 1915. After a period of training at Royal Park in Melbourne, he embarked for Egypt with a reinforcement group for the 2nd Field Company Engineers. As a sapper, Lofts was responsible for a range of construction works to support the infantry in the field. These jobs included building defensive positions, repairing trenches, clearing roads, laying duckboards, and constructing showers and baths for the troops. By the time he arrived in Egypt, the Gallipoli campaign had ended and the AIF underwent a period of restructure and training before its departure for the Western Front. As part of this restructure, Lofts was transferred to the newly-raised 12th Field Company Engineers.

Attached to the 12th Brigade, the 12th Field Company Engineers participated in all the major actions fought by the 4th Division on the Western Front. After a time in the line in the relatively quiet sector near Armentieres, the 12th Field Company Engineers participated in the bitter fighting on the Somme at Pozieres and Mouquet Farm and spent the following winter holding positions between the villages of Flers and Gueudecourt. It participated in the advance that followed the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, and took part in heavy fighting at Bullecourt in early April, before moving up the line to Messines in early June. By late 1917, the focus of British operations had shifted north into Belgium, where the Australians took part in the Third Battle of Ypres. As part of this, the 12th Brigade participated in fighting at Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, and the costly and unsuccessful assault on the village of Passchendaele. The fighting ended with the onset of winter, with both sides digging in and waiting for the fighting season to resume.

By early 1918, the Australians were still holding the line in Belgium in an area that witnessed the bloody fighting of the Third Battle of Ypres. The 12th Brigade was holding positions along the Westhoek Ridge near the village of Zillebeke where the engineers worked on improving the trenches in the area. As part of this, they revetted the side-walls, raised the height of the parapet, laid duckboards and widened and tidied up some of the brigade’s defensive positions. German artillery fire was both sporadic and indiscriminate, and regularly fell in the Australian lines.

Charlie Lofts was working on the 12th Brigade’s defensive positions when his section was subjected to artillery fire on 12 February 1918. Lofts was wounded in the head by a shell fragment, and was evacuated to the 2nd Casualty Clearance Station at Steenwerck, where he died the following day. Aged 26 at the time of his death, he was buried at the Trois Arbes Cemetery at Steenwerck where he rests today. A small epitaph penned by his grieving parents simply says “His Duty Done”.

Charlie was one of four Lofts brothers to serve in the First World War. 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.

His is just one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Sapper Charles Lofts, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (5081) Sapper Charles Lofts, 12th Field Company Engineers, First World War. (video)