The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (201) Lance Corporal George Thomas Hughes, 8th Light Horse Regiment, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2018.1.1.219
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 7 August 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 Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (201) Lance Corporal George Thomas Hughes, 8th Light Horse Regiment, First World War.

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Speech transcript

201 Lance Corporal George Thomas Hughes, 8th Light Horse Regiment
KIA 7 August 1915
Story delivered 7 August 2018

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal George Thomas Hughes.

George Hughes was born around 1876 to Mr and Mrs David Hughes of Burrier, New South Wales. As a young adult he was living in Singleton, where he was “a prominent and active member of the Singleton Young Men’s Club”, an adjunct to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. He was a very active member of the local Church and Sunday School. In 1905 he was accepted for service with the Presbyterian Church, and was sent to Balranald to establish a ministry in the parish there. It was reported that “he was most faithful and diligent in carrying out the duties of his office”.

George Hughes resigned his position in Balranald to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914. He sold a considerable amount of property at the same time. Hughes was known as a “true sportsman”, and was particularly attached to his horses and his dog, probably the reason that saw him accepted for service with the 8th Light Horse Regiment. He proved an able soldier, and shortly after arriving in Egypt was promoted to lance corporal.

The light horse was considered unsuitable for initial operations at Gallipoli, but by early May proved too valuable a source of manpower, so the men were landed without their horses. The regiment spent weeks holding various parts of the front line. In June Hughes wrote, “Our position here is only 15 yards from the entrenched Turks, and we can hear them singing their chants every night at their religious service … we have had a taste of the real thing, and find it serious business. Everything is in the Turks’ favour as far as situation goes … all one need do to escape the fatigue is to show his head three inches over the earth works and he will be permanently relieved from duty.” He added, “the boys from Australia are soldiers of no mean order and stand the strain as cool and fearless as any others we have met; in fact they show an indifference that no one would believe who had not witnessed it.”

In early August 1915, as part of a wider offensive, the 8th Light Horse Brigade formed the first two waves of an attack on Turkish positions at the Nek. Met by fierce Turkish machine-gun fire, each wave of the assault failed with extremely heavy casualties.

Lance Corporal Hughes was missing after the operation. One of his mates later told the story of what happened to him. He wrote, “In that charge on 7th August I followed him out of the trench, and after firing several shots I was hit in the foot. I noticed Hughes was still firing, then as I slid down the bank I saw him drop his rifle and roll over on his back without any further movement. I ... think Hughes was the last man in my troops to be shot. Of those who went into the charge, only two are left of that troop.”

Hughes’s body was never identified after the battle, and today he is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing. He was 39 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 Lance Corporal George Thomas Hughes, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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