The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3009) Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt, 55th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.55
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 24 February 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

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 (3009) Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt, 55th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

3009 Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt, 55th Battalion, AIF
KIA 20 July 1916

Story delivered 24 February 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt.

Herbert Bolt was born on 10 September 1893 to Frederick and Mary Bolt of the Sydney suburb of Newtown. After attending Newtown Public School, he went to work as a brick maker at the Bedford Steam Brickworks.

Known by the nickname “Nutsy”, Bolt was a keen sportsman who excelled at rugby league. Renowned for his try scoring and fighting skills, from 1912 to 1915 he played 50 matches for the Newtown Bluebags, and represented New South Wales against Queensland twice during the 1913 season. One of his team-mates was the great Dally Messenger. With no love lost between New South Wales and Queensland, Bolt was sent off during the second game for brawling.

In 1914 Bolt married Jane Hughes, known as Jennie, in Newtown; and on 18 February 1915 the couple welcomed their daughter, Mary Monica, into the world. For the brief time that the family was together, Bolt doted on his daughter, calling her his “little Mona”.

At the end of the 1915 rugby season, Bolt enlisted for service with the AIF. After his initial training, he was allotted to the 7th reinforcements to the 17th Battalion. He sailed from Sydney with his unit on 20 December aboard the transport ship Suevic, bound for Egypt.

Shortly after arriving in Egypt, he was transferred to the 55th Battalion. Bolt was a natural leader and he was promoted to corporal in May.

The 55th Battalion sailed to France not long afterwards, disembarking at Marseilles at the end of the June. The battalion was sent straight to the “Nursery Sector”, where the men entered the front line for the first time on 12 July.

Only seven days later, the battalion was involved in its first major battle at Fromelles. The 55th Battalion was initially in reserve, but was sent forward to provide a rear guard for the 14th Brigade, which had suffered heavy casualties.

At around 5 am on 20 July, Bolt and his comrades were forced to withdraw from their positions by heavy German counter-attacks. According to one eyewitness, Bolt used bayonet and rifle butt to fend off the attacking Germans until he was shot through the head and killed.

He was 22 years old.

With the intensity of the German attacks, Bolt’s body was unable to be recovered. His personal effects were sent to his wife via the Red Cross. But for many years he was listed as having no known grave, and his name was added to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

In 2010, mass graves were located at Pheasant Wood and the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers were exhumed. Bolt’s remains were identified and he was laid to rest with full military honours in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery.

Herbert Bolt’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 Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt, 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 (3009) Corporal Herbert Thomas Bolt, 55th Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)