The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (1849) Private Michael Doody, 32nd Battalion, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.131
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 11 May 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 Chris Widenbar, the story for this day was on (1849) Private Michael Doody, 32nd Battalion, First World War.

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Speech transcript

1849 Private Michael Doody, 32nd Battalion
KIA 11 December 1916
Story delivered 11 May 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Michael Doody.
Michael Doody was born in 1890, the youngest of eight children of Michael and Bridget Doody of Broken Hill in New South Wales. He spent most of his formative years growing up in the suburbs of Adelaide in South Australia. Known as “Mick” to his family and friends, he attended Saint Mary’s Dominican Convent and School and afterwards worked as a labourer at the Islington locomotive works. He also spent three years parading with the 10th Australian Infantry Regiment before it was disbanded in the years before the war.

Doody enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1915. After a period of training at the Morphettville Race Track, he embarked for Egypt with a reinforcement group for the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. By the time he arrived, Australian and New Zealand troops had withdrawn from Gallipoli and were undergoing a major restructure in preparation for joining the fighting on the Western Front. Since the 3rd Light Horse Regiment was at full strength, Doody was transferred to the Light Horse Reserve Regiment, and then to the artillery for posting to a gun team after further training in England. Doody spent several months on the Salisbury Plain near Wiltshire before he was again transferred, this time to the infantry. He was posted to a reinforcement group for the 32nd Battalion and sailed for France in in November 1916.

Doody arrived in France towards the end of the Somme campaign, and met up with the 32nd Battalion as it rested behind the lines near Montauban. By this stage of the war Australian troops were occupying a series of defensive positions between the villages of Flers and Gueudecourt in preparation for what proved to be one of the coldest winters in 40 years. Although there was little fighting in this sector, the Germans regularly bombarded the Australian positions while the infantry spent their time repairing trenches and overcoming endless mud, rain and frostbite, which proved to be almost greater enemies than the German Army.

The 32nd Battalion occupied a series of defensive positions west of the village of le Transloy. A trench raid was conducted in late November and German shell-fire was constant throughout December.

On 11 December, Private Doody was killed, presumably from desultory German shell-fire as the battalion mended its trenches and did their best with contending with the mud. Aged 26 at the time, he was given a battlefield burial outside the nearby village of Lesbœufs and today rests in the nearby Guards Cemetery. He was fondly remembered in Adelaide as being of “bright, happy disposition … loved and respected by a large circle of friends”.

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 Michael Doody, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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